Changing DVD region encoding on a powerbook
October 6, 2004 4:47 PM   Subscribe

I just bought a brand new 12" powerbook to replace one that was stolen several weeks back. I am told by a friend at Apple that I can watch different zone DVDs 5 times, and on the 5th viewing the machine will permanently set to whatever region that DVD is encoded to. Is there no way to undo this encoding? For example, if I foolishly, for example, allowed a friend to use the machine and he watched 5 Korean DVDs, am I stuck with that region forever?
posted by luriete to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
If he watched 5 Korean DVDs in a row, that would only count as one region-switch out of your five. Plus, most DVD drives can actually be "reset" two times after getting region-locked. So you might get up to 15 changes of the region.

The solution is to find a firmware upgrade that will make your drive RPC-1 instead of RPC-2. Don't ask me what those stand for, though, I have no idea. RPC-1 firmware won't cause a region-lock, that's all you need to know.

I flashed the firmware in the DVD drive in my PowerBook to make it RPC-1 and I watch DVDs from abroad all the time with no ill effects. It was easy and took about five minutes once I knew the right Google search terms to find the firmware. Now I can switch regions easily with a utility called Region X.

It is harder to find firmware for more recent PowerBooks as the guy who was doing most of them "retired" from the scene. But search around.

BTW, this is probably illegal or at least kind of gray-market. Personally I think it's absolutely ridiculous that it's illegal to buy a DVD of a UK TV series that isn't even shown in the US, for instance. I consider it fair use.
posted by bcwinters at 4:56 PM on October 6, 2004

As far as I know, it's not illegal to buy the DVD, nor is it illegal to use a region-free player -- it would, however, be illegal to hack a DVD player's firmware to make it region-free. I think. And that's only due to the DMCA.

Not like anyone really cares anyhow.
posted by neckro23 at 5:12 PM on October 6, 2004

You could also use a utility like Mac the Ripper, which you can find via Versiontracker, to rip the DVDs, removing the region encoding on the fly.

This requires a bit of extra space, but it will let you watch DVDs from other regions without a region switch.
posted by tomierna at 5:17 PM on October 6, 2004

Spooky! I considered posting exactly the same question (except for a G5 iMac) an hour ago. Anyway, my brief research uncovered:

VLC lets you watch DVDs from any region; the region of your DVD drive is irrelevant, since VLC decrypts stuff independently

there are utilities (make sure you check out all four tabs on that page) that let you do things like make your DVD drive region-free, or rip DVDs from any region, etc

I haven't tried any of this stuff (cuz my iMac isn't schedule to arrive until Oct 29! gah!) and obviously mucking about with firmware is deep magic.
posted by lbergstr at 5:22 PM on October 6, 2004

Or, install VLC, which will decode the DVD in software (in violation of the DMCA, of course) regardless of the region. MPlayer could probably handle it as well.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:27 PM on October 6, 2004

I use VLC all the time but I had no idea it could bypass region restrictions. Man, that's one hell of a program.
posted by bcwinters at 5:37 PM on October 6, 2004

There needs to be a special area of AskMeFi that says, "Do you have a question about anything video-related on the Mac? The answer is VLC."

I swear it comes up every single time.
posted by Robot Johnny at 7:52 PM on October 6, 2004

And if your Mac smells funny, use ExStink. majick says so!
posted by Danelope at 9:21 PM on October 6, 2004

Turn off the DVD setting that opens Apple's DVD Player whenever you insert a DVD - or set it to use VLC on default. Either way, just use VLC.
posted by spslsausse at 10:59 PM on October 6, 2004

There's a program called region X I believe that lets you reset your powerbook to region 0 (the super region that plays anything).

And if I can rant for a second here: Region protection is totally dumb, it actively prevents sales of more media to movie fans. Until I found a hackable DVD player at home and on my computer, I couldn't buy anything from, but now I can (and I have). Great work, Mr. Hollywood Guys, preventing the sales of international DVDs all this time. Bang up job you're doing there in tinseltown.
posted by mathowie at 11:34 PM on October 6, 2004

same for, etc -- most Americans just can't play Region 2 Japanese dvd movies or region 3 Koreans. dumb.

I second the VLC thing, it's great.
also, if you own the original dvd, you can rip it and burn a region 0 copy with DVDBackUp and DVD2ZoneX and Toast
posted by matteo at 12:48 AM on October 7, 2004

« Older Frivolous Lawsuits   |   Mobile Skype Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.