Region Code Free DVD Players: An Increasingly Difficult To Find Commodity
Until the release of the Blue Ray Disc in 2006, DVD technology provided the most resilient and best quality medium for the distribution of motion pictures. In order to provide a level of control over the release dates, the DVD Copy Control Association in California, was requiring the manufacturers of DVD players to incorporate the Regional Playback Control (RPC) system into the DVD players they distribute. Since then the majority of DVD’s sold in shops are region locked. DVD’s are rated according to the region that they are distributed in and may only be watched by players that are coded for that region. There are still older Region Code Free DVD players available on the market—usually as hardware in older model computer DVD drives. All new computers must also incorporate Region Control into their new hardware. Because of all these new regulations, it’s becoming increasingly more and more difficult to purchase a code free player.
The practice of restricting region sharing has been incorporated as a way of reducing pirated copies of movies being distributed, The concept of restricted regions existed in previous years with the release of movies on tapes in either the PAL or NTSC format, however, there are those who claim that the practice is discriminatory and anti competitive.
Consumers who are determined to have the right to watch DVD’s regardless of their country of origin have created methods of turning locked region DVD players into Region code free DVD players. Using either software or hardware modification, they modify the technology to unlock the device and enable the multi region operation of the player. These methods are successful, but their ongoing success is variable. It is not uncommon for a modified DVD player to revert back to its Region Coded Locked System and to display a sign indicating that a DVD cannot be played due to the region not being recognized.
It is legal to own region code free DVD players, however it is not legal to operate them for illegal purposes. Consumers who modify their players, either by using software or hardware modifications, are encouraged to check with their state and national laws for further information about their rights.
New technology is being introduced in Region 1 DVDs to prevent them from being played on Region Code Free DVD players, and as you can imagine, this will only cause further restrictions to people who want to play region specific DVD’s.