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Regional lockout

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Regional lockout is the programming practice, code, chip, or physical barrier used to prevent the playing of media designed for a device from the country where it is marketed on the version of the same device marketed in another country. It is a form of vendor lock-in.

It originated in the video game industry, and, with the advent of DVD, it was adopted by the motion picture industry. Nintendo is the originator of regional lockout. Critics argue that regional lockout promotes game piracy and modding by adding incentives in the form of new things one can play if one cracks the lockout. Some critics consider it a form of copyright misuse.

Region free, especially in DVD players, means that the device is shipped by the manufacturer without the ability to enforce regional lockout. Some countries' laws consider regional lockout to constitute unfair restraint of trade; all DVD players sold in those countries must be region free. In addition, most handheld video game systems, including all Game Boy systems, are made region free because many people travel with their game systems.

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