DVD player regional settings: you can only change them 5 times?

I ran across this fact the other day when poking around with my DVD/CD-RW… you can only change the regional setting 5 times.

I have heard or read about this before, and it always struck me as odd-- so two questions, please:

  1. Why? (I assume that it has to do with limiting piracy in some way, but how does that work exactly?)

  2. What is the physical mechanism that prevents me from changing the regional setting 6 times? (will my drive melt? will a SWAT team swarm in through the window, throw me to the floor and stand on my neck while I suck carpet? does the hardware start thinking of baseball, the firmware become positively flaccid, and the software succumb to the siren-song of gravity and fall right off the Windows sugar cone?)

Enquiring minds want to know… and so do I!:wink:

All you have to do to get around it is flash the drive’s firmware. There are websites out there that’ll tell you how to do it, but I ain’t posting any links until cleared by a mod.

#1: My WAG is that it is, as you suspected, an anti-piracy measure, just like the DVD region settings themselve were meant to be. If you could change the regions as many times as you wanted to, there would be no point to having region codes in the first place. I guess the 5 times is to give you a few chances to change it in case you mess up or move to another country or whatever.

Anyway, it’s all a very stupid idea, IMHO.

#2: Not sure how it works, exactly, but you can usually find workarounds or custom firmware that gets rid of the limitations for you. I turned my computer’s DVD drive into an all-region device with a firmware upgrade. Just Google for it and hopefully something will come up for your drive/player. (Note: I didn’t do it to watched pirated DVDs. Like my example above, I had to move across regions and didn’t want to maintain two seperate drives for playing different movies.)

Thanks, asterion! But actually, I’m not interested in doing it… just curious as to why that protection is there, and what, physically, enforces it. I assume from your post that the sixth change in some way screws up the BIOS, then… is that the motherboard’s BIOS, or BIOS residing on the DVD drive?

(and, Mods, if this question skates on the edge of violating the UA, I apologize. It was not intentional, and feel free to close it if needed…)

And thank you as well, nobodyimportant! Your WAG as to number 1 makes sense…

I was thinking of it from the point of view of the pirate; perhaps I was thinking backwards!

Some players can be flashed, some not. If you don’t do it right, you can damage the firmware. There’s also software solutions that allow you to reset the number of changes you can make.

I used to have my DVD drive set to region 2. I was able to buy R2 sets of Family Guy before they were available here. It also allowed me to get Star Trek: The Next Generation in the European cases, too.

I ended up buying a code-free stand-alone player with a built-in PAL converter.

It’s actually nothing to do with piracy. It’s to prevent people from watching a movie on DVD before it’s available in theatres.

The odds of this occurring in most Western countries is so small as to be almost nil, but that doesn’t stop them from imposing this absurd restriction which denies some viewers from watching particular movies at all, let alone particular extras (available to some regions and not others - like for example commentaries, or DTS soundtracks).

Indeed, region codes have nothing to do with piracy - as far as I can tell, it’s perfectly legal to buy a DVD in Europe and watch it in America.

Region codes are there so the manufacturers can control price, release date, and content in different countries. If the Chinese government doesn’t like a certain scene, the studio can cut that scene out of the Chinese version but leave it in the others. If Americans are willing to pay $25 for a DVD but Batzanians are only willing to pay $10, the studio can charge $25 in America and $10 in Batzania, and the region codes will keep (most) Americans from using the cheaper discs.

Source: http://hometheater.about.com/library/weekly/aa071601a.htm

Thanks, guys. That was informative. I stand corrected.