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Monday, June 21, 2021

Possible violation of specification: UHD Blu-rays should have regional codes

The Swedish distributor “SF Studios” has apparently given two Ultra HD Blu-rays a regional code, contrary to the specification of the disc format.

One of the great advances brought about by the introduction of the Ultra HD Blu-ray was, in addition to the higher resolution and the expanded contrast range, that these discs no longer have a so-called regional code.

As a reminder: For the video DVD and the Blu-ray disc, it was specified at the time that discs could only be played in the distribution zone provided by the respective rights holder. With DVD, the world was divided into eight regions (1-8), with Blu-ray Disc into three (A, B, and C). The discs were only played if the disc and player had the same region code.

Among other things, this was intended to prevent users from other regions from importing and watching discs with films that may not have even been shown in the cinema in their country. This technology for digital rights management (it is not copy protection) was never really effective but was bypassed again and again by users in practice.

Back to the regional code with a twist

Against the background of the omission of the regional code, it is understandable that some Americans who had imported the UHD Blu-rays “Death Wish” and “Greenland” from Sweden are currently expressing their amazement in Internet forums that their players are able to play them Refuse to refer to the wrong region code.

In the meantime, the riddle for this seems to have been solved: The Swedish distributor SF Studios is said to have discovered that the player’s Blu-ray region code can be checked when playing an Ultra HD Blu-ray. Background: Every UHD Blu-ray player can also play Blu-ray discs and has a Blu-ray regional code for this (in order to meet their specifications). If the software developed by SF Studios detects that the UHD player does not report the region code “B” (for Europe), it blocks playback.

Should this prove to be true, then SF Studios would clearly bypass the specifications of the Ultra HD Blu-ray – which would then lead to the question of how the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), as the master of the format, would react to this. It is also conceivable, however, that SF Studio accidentally reused code for UHD BD authoring that was written for Blu-ray authoring. c’t has asked the studio and the BDA in this regard, answers are currently pending. ( nij )

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