You stick it in your player.
And then, disaster strikes!
You get a message like “Region not allowed”, and the movie won’t play.
Welcome to the glorious world of Region Codes!
Sometimes, it’s possible to bypass this restriction, but it depends on your DVD/Blu-ray player.
Region codes explained
Region codes are basically DRM (digital rights management) techniques that allow studios to control the release of films in various regions. So, for example, they can release a new movie in the USA first, and then the UK, and then elsewhere.
If you’ve ever looked for movies on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, you’ll notice that DVD and Blu-ray movies are usually released in the USA first, and then a month or two later, they’ll appear for sale in the UK.
Now, let me just say that I don’t support pirating movies. But, here’s the thing: If I want to buy a movie in another country, I’m still paying for it. It’s not piracy. If I want to buy a movie in another country, in another currency, and if they’ll ship it to me, then what’s the biggie? There isn’t one, except that Uncle Hollywood says, “No!”
Well, screw you, Uncle Hollywood. I’m a rebel. You’ve got enough money, I’m not shortchanging anyone, I’m not pirating anything, and goddammit, I wanna watch my movie! 🙂
The following is a color-coded Region map for DVDs:
Blu-ray discs also have region codes, but most studios don’t enforce the region code restrictions, which are way more lax than for DVDs. There are a few exceptions to this rule, so there are no guarantees. Also, hacks that exist for Blu-ray players usually don’t turn off the region code setting for Blu-ray discs – it usually just makes playing DVDs a region-free experience. Sometimes, it also unlocks the Blu-ray region code, also.
As for DVD players, some are hackable, and some are not. Some are hackable until you update the player’s firmware (via ethernet, WiFi, or an update file on a USB stick). Then, the player is no longer region-free. YMMV (your mileage may vary), so be careful.
Right, so: How do you hack your player?
That depends. Some manufacturers basically don’t allow it. Toshiba is kind of famous for having non-hackable players. Sony usually requires downloading a CD image, burning it to a disc, and playing the disc in your player. Samsung players are often hackable, but then they’ll issue a firmware update that resets the region code and disables the hack – lame! My personal preference is Philips, because almost all of their players are hackable.
The hacking process for some players is quite simple:
- Go here: http://www.videohelp.com/dvdhack
- Search for your model number, i.e. “Philips DVP2880“
- Go through the list of instructions, and try it out!
The instructions will usually be something like this (this is just an example, specifically for the above player):
- Power ON the DVD player with no disc inside
- Goto SETUP and go to Preferences
- With preferences highlighted, Press NEXT CHAPTER>|, PREVIOUS CHAPTER |<, NEXT CHAPTER>|, PREVIOUS CHAPTER |<
- The OSD will show the current Region Code
- Press the Navigation Up or Navigation Down buttons to select your desired region, or 0 for region free
- Press OK to confirm your region selection
Poof! You’re done.
Note that different manufacturers have different methods for hacking the region code on their players. Not all hacks will work for you. For example, you may have the exact same model number, but the Australian version of the player instead of the EU version. Like I said, YMMV. But, usually on sites like VideoHelp.com, there will be several sets of instructions, so try them all before you give up.
How do I watch movies on my puter?
Buy Redfox’s AnyDVD. You can use it for a free 21-day trial by downloading it here:
The price is now a bit steep, but I’ve used it for years, and it really rocks. Many movies also contain added copy protection so that the disc won’t play on a computer. AnyDVD conveniently disables all that nonsense for you, on the fly. It’s one of my favorite bits of software, and it’s updated regularly to remove the latest copy protection mechanisms, so you can just watch your dang movies in peace.
Got another favorite player hack site? Post it in the comments below!
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