'RCE' stands for Regional Coding Enhancement. RCE is a more involved method of enforcing DVD Region Lockout in software.

DVDs with this feature are able to detect (and refuse to play) on region free DVD players (that is, players set to Region 0).

Discs known to contain RCE:

  1. The Patriot starring Mel Gibson
  2. South Park: The Chef Experience
  3. South Park: Christmas In South Park
  4. Thomas The Tank Engine and The Magic Rail Road
  5. Hollow Man

RCE-enabled discs seem to operate as follows. Note that this is entirely supposition at this point:

  1. The disc is popped into a DVD player. The disc is set to Region 0, so it's able to load on any player.
  2. Software on the DVD performs its own check, comparing the DVD player region code against all possible region codes, 0 through 8 inclusively. If the player reports any region code besides that one for which the disc is intended, then a message similar to the following is displayed:
This disc is intended for play on non-modified Region 1 players.

There is nothing wrong with this Region 1 disc. To assure playback you should purchase or rent a disc designed for your region as set forth below.

The DVD FAQ for the rec.video.dvd newsgroups say that Warner Bros. was only the first company to *publicize* these 'smart discs', and that Fox, Buena Vista/Touchstone/Miramax, MGM/Universal, Polygram, and Columbia had already done something similar.
Slight correction,

The first part is correct, the disc is regionally hardcoded to Region 0, so any DVD player will load it. Then the disc's own software performs it's own checks.

  • The software then asks the player if it is a Region 1 player. If it answers yes, then go to 2. else throw an error. (as expected.)
  • It then asks if it's a Region 2 player, if it says yes (as region-free players should) then it throws an error.
  • This previous step is repeated with Regions 3,4,5,6,7 and 8.
The best way to defeat RCE-encoded titles is to have a player that allows you to change the region code of it manually. Other "smart" firmwares find other ways to automatically sense if the disc is trying to fool it or not.

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