Depending on your DVD player, you may be able to change regions a limited number of times. Some DVD players are region-free, and one of those could play the DVD. That’s probably in the “too expensive” category (unless you’re in the market for a new DVD player anyway).
I think you can also legally make a copy… except that to make doing so useful, you need to decrypt the content (to convert it to region 1), which you cannot do legally. Fabulous catch-22 there.
I don’t know what the status of this is on the board (though I’m quite sure this is not illegal) so I won’t post any direct links, but search DVD hack on the internet. Some DVD players can easily be altered to be region free (though do so at your own risk; I can’t guarantee you won’t screw up your player).
The reason for regions is, for example, say a movie has already has its theatrical run in Europe and is availabe on DVD there, but has yet to open in theatres in America. The producers don’t want Americans able to buy the DVD and hurt possible box office sales in America.
To my knowledge, some claim this violates certain free trade agreements, but as far as I know this challenge has never been brought to the courts.
Many (but not all) DVD players can be unlocked for other regions by entering a series of commands (e.g.“DVD-528 OPEN THE DVD TRAY; then PRESS STOP; then PRESS 2008; then CHANGE THE REGION CODE# ; PRESS NUMBER (0 for all region, or 1-6)”). A good list of these is here http://www.videohelp.com/dvdhacks.php
You have two problems to overcome before you can watch this disc.
First, you need a DVD player that will play discs from region 2 (Europe). Many DVD players can be set to different regions just by pressing a few keys on the remote. As others have pointed out, you can search for your player’s region hack code on the web.
Then you still have to deal with the different video standards. The UK uses PAL, but we use NTSC here. For DVDs, the difference means your UK disc will have a larger frame size and slower frame rate than American discs. You’ll need a DVD player that can convert the frame size/rate and produce an NTSC signal for your American TV, or (less likely) a DVD player that produces a PAL signal and a multiformat TV.
If your DVD player doesn’t have a region hack and/or can’t convert PAL discs to NTSC for viewing on your TV, then it’s time to get a new DVD player. My Philips DVP-642 was only about $50 at Walmart and it does both; it even plays DivX and XviD AVI files.
As others have said, DVD regions are a technical measure imposed upon the DVD-Video standard for both discs and players by the big movie studios, to allow them to restrict distribution of movie discs. Some have contended that this is an illegal restraint of trade, but I don’t know whether the issue has been forced to a court ruling.
It’s important to note that region coding is completely optional for the producers of a DVD-Video disc. Any movie disc may be configured by the author to play in all regions.
It’s also important to note that region coding is completely-different from the issue of video standards. Japan and the USA use the same standard-definition video standard, NTSC, but are in different DVD regions.
The big-name traditional brands of DVD player, like Sony, tend to have the least information available for defeating region locks. Lesser-known brands such as Apex are often easy to set. And outside the US region-free players are sold much more openly.