Break free from DVD region-locks

DVDs carry something called a Region-Lock. It is a restriction that prevents DVDs marked as a particular region from being run on a DVD drive set for another region. This isn't usually a problem - as long as the DVDs are set to the same region as the drive or the DVDs aren't region locked at all. However, the problem starts to arise if you have a laptop that you carry around in your travels and want to play movie DVDs from the various "regions". It will also be problematic if you have movie or game DVDs bought from another region in the world and it happens to differ from the region your DVD drive is set to.

Most of the computer DVD drives also carry this restriction. If you inspect the properties of your DVD drive, chances are it is set to a particular region - the region/country you reside though normally you wouldn't even be aware of this setting if you haven't encountered a region locked DVD. The older generation of DVD drives had something called RPC-1 (Regional Playback Control). RPC-1 leaves the enforcement of the region lockout up to the particular media player you run on the computer. This is quite easy to bypass and so the newer DVD drives all carry RPC-2. RPC-2 drives enforce the region locking by themselves and don't leave it up to the player software. The drives usually allow a maximum of 5 changes to its regional setting. So if you had a DVD marked as US and changed your drive to US region and then changed it again to play a DVD from Australia and then so on till finally you've used up the five allowed changes, then the drive becomes locked to the last region you set to. That means DVDs from all other regions are unplayable!

Thankfully, there are workarounds and software devised by a sneaky smart bunch of people who don't like this restriction. One of the more popular methods is to use a software called DVD Region+CSS Free. It acts as a layer between the DVD drive and the player software to allow playback without the RPC-2 hassle coming into effect. Sadly, the software isn't free. I prefer the next available method - known as firmware flashing. Firmware flashing involves installing a "patched" firmware for the DVD drive that revert the drive to a RPC-1 drive. Firmware is software that runs on chips inside the DVD drive and work independent of the computer the drive is installed on. Thus, firmware flashing leaves the drive as a RPC-1 even all on its own and gets rid of the need to install special software like DVD Region Free. However, I must note that firmware flashing isn't the end of it all - you still need special software even for RPC-1 drives to make it work smoothly. A software to do just this, called DVD Genie, is available for free and is a small download.

If you are keen to get your DVD drive flashed to RPC-1, head over to where they have listings of patched firmware for the various manufacturers and drive models. A bit of warning though, firmware flashing CAN leave your drive dead as a brick if done incorrectly. So read up and double check before going through with it. The site has excellent information guides and an active forum where there have been many questions clarified and problems solved - READ IT!

Enjoy! :-D


  1. No Trackbacks


Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)

  1. No comments

Add Comment

HTML-Tags will be converted to Entities.
Standard emoticons like :-) and ;-) are converted to images.
To leave a comment you must approve it via e-mail, which will be sent to your address after submission.