Region Free DVD Drive

DVDs come in several region-coded format restrictions. The DVD players are usually restricted to play a single-region or a couple of regions. However, I was always under the impression that computer DVD drives were region-free i.e. these computer drives can play content from any and all regions; without restrictions. Last year, we purchased a TV series from Amazon UK store. The DVD series is Region-2 compatible. I did not realize it until I received the package. I put the disc in my computer. I was surprised to see a prompt to change the region settings of my DVD drive.

I ran a diagnostic tool DiscInfo which displayed the following:

rpc1.org is aptly named “The Firmware Page”. It is an active community of users who help each other to remove the DVD restrictions. I was able to quickly remove the restrictions on my DVD drive; in less than 5 minutes. Once the patch is applied, all restrictions from your system are removed permanently.

This is what the diagnostic tool shows after my DVD drive is patched successfully. Now, I can watch any DVD, without worrying about the restrictions.

Some people wrongly push the blame for these restrictions on the OS. In this case, it is the content creators (movie studios, game manufacturers etc) who are to be blamed, if appropriate. This restriction is apparently set by the content creators to control piracy, pricing, regional sensitivity and staged product launch around the world. The users are allowed to change the region settings of a DVD drive for a set number of times (usually four). Once this number is reached, the last region code selected becomes permanent. Re-Installing the operating system, formatting the system does not help reset the counter. These changes are permanently stored in the hardware (probably BIOS). One way to overcome this restriction is to “patch” your DVD drive and remove the restrictions permanently.

Be very careful while applying the patch. In most cases, you will void any warranty with respect to the DVD drive. Also, if these patches are not applied correctly, they you will end up with a big paper-weight.

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