Is it impossible to make a region 2 DVD work on my home DVD player?
April 10, 2016 4:29 PM   Subscribe

I bought a couple of concert DVDs from Japan but they won't play on my TV's DVD player (I'm in the US). For the first one that arrived a month ago, I got a trial of AnyDVD and figured out a way to remove the region and make an ISO, then burn back to a DVD. But AnyDVD seems to have gone away and my trial has expired.

So ... I've spent some number of hours fiddling with my PC and downloading all kinds of stuff so I can watch the second DVD, which arrived this week. I spent $39 on Nero Recode only to get a "this DVD is copy protected" error. Is it really true that it's not possible to legally buy a Japanese DVD and watch it in the US? I mean, they shipped it to me! I've seen solutions involving buying a foreign DVD player, but that's too much. So far I'm out $80 and can't watch my video. I've spent at least 4-6 hours reading random web forums and such to no avail. Very, very frustrating!
posted by freecellwizard to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Sites won't stop you from buying DVDs from out of region; caveat emptor. Maybe someone else will have a better solution, but here's all I know to do:

You can buy a region-free DVD player for very little money. If you're a fan and anticipate buying more DVDs from Japan someday, you might as well! We have a Sony one that works just fine. (It was a while back that we bought it, so you're better off googling for recent reviews.) It cost around $50 and earned back its cost really quickly since we were able to buy DVDs from overseas Amazon sites with lower sticker prices (even adding in shipping!).

If you know someone with an old Mac they're not using much anymore, they might be able to switch its drive's region and rip it for you (if they have a DVD ripping program installed).

There might also be a video transfer shop in your area that would copy it for you. If you live in an area with much immigration or many international workers, it's worth looking around.
posted by wintersweet at 4:39 PM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

AnyDVD is still available. They had to stop selling it due to copyright infringement and gave up. But it is still there. Another company is offering it as well. If you google it you will find it.
Hope it works for you.
posted by JayRwv at 4:42 PM on April 10, 2016

There's a chance that you can make your dvd player region free or at least switch back and forth between regions... check the directions here for more info.
posted by Huck500 at 4:49 PM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

So manufacturers don't actually make individual region-specific players. It isn't cost effective. They sell the same model in every region. The region-locking is encoded in software, and can be overturned by entering a code. The codes are out there on many different websites. Try here, or if that doesn't work, a little googling will go a long ways now that you know the secret. Good luck!
posted by seasparrow at 4:52 PM on April 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

Only certain DVD players can be unlocked that way--our main one can't be. But it's worth checking if OP hasn't checked already.
posted by wintersweet at 4:54 PM on April 10, 2016

Have you searched for your player model and "region free" at the dvdtalk forum? That would be my first stop.
posted by 26.2 at 5:08 PM on April 10, 2016

As it happens, I happened to be catching up on RSS feeds and stumbled on this story on TechDirt: Hollywood Forced SlySoft DVD Ripping Software Out Of Business, Only To Have It Return As RedFox.
posted by jzb at 5:30 PM on April 10, 2016

You may be interested to know that the region codes are different for BDs, and that North America and Japan are the same BD region.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:22 PM on April 10, 2016

We use this player for our non region 1 dvds. It works well.
posted by Ferreous at 8:14 PM on April 10, 2016

It's totally possible! Here's one way that should work:

1. I use an external CD/DVD drive for my laptop. I don't know if all external disc drives are region free, but I think a lot of them are, and you can get decent ones for $20 to $30. This is the drive I use, and it's only $21 on Amazon.

2. Download Handbrake to rip the DVDs. (It's free software.)

3. If the movies have copyright protection, you can also download libdvdcss software. It's also free and open source. Once you install it, you don't have to mess with it again.

4. If your computer plays DVDs as soon as it detects a disc, you should go ahead and turn off that feature just to make life easier.

5. After I use Handbrake to rip the DVDs to my computer. I usually just watch them on my laptop, but it's easy enough to burn the movie back onto a DVD if you'd like. I'd recommend VLC player if you want to watch on your computer. (Also free.)

The one thing about Handbrake is you have to do settings manually, so if you want the subtitles to be included, you have to set that before you burn it. There are lots of tutorials out there and it's pretty easy once you experiment with it a bit. (You can even use it to add external subtitles!)

This is a bit time intensive, but the only cost is $20 for an external region free disc drive if you don't have it already. Oh, and the cost for blank DVDs if you want to do that. Alternatively, you could probably hook your computer up to your TV and play them that way. You will still have to use Handbrake to convert the movies first.

Last thing: I use a Macbook. I don't know if using a Windows machine will affect this approach.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:00 PM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

AnyDVD is now found at their new site It is located in Belize.
posted by JayRwv at 2:29 AM on April 11, 2016

Hi everyone - thanks for the great suggestions. I'm most likely to try the Handbrake solution or just buy a physical region-free DVD player. I poked around Amazon and my only concern there is that it seems some of the region-free players are just regular players with override instructions as suggested above by 26.2. Given the low cost I may just risk it. I did previously try removing the region stuff from my Samsung player (about 5 years old) but either it's disabled or I wasn't adept at the complex sequence of timed key presses.

I'm disappointed in the DVD industry to say the least. If you asked my wife, she'd roll her eyes at my Boy Scout-like attitude towards copyrighted content. I have zero music or video on any of my devices that comes from a non-official source, and have generally jumped through hoops to play nice with the owners. But they seem to go out of their way to make it possible for people to enjoy their legally purchased content.

I will try a couple of these things and report back.
posted by freecellwizard at 8:07 AM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

I also just want to say that the Handbrake method may seem time and effort intensive, but once you get the initial set up in place, it's basically a set it and forget it kind of thing. It will go a lot faster depending on your laptop, but you can also mess with those settings in Handbrake. It's very configurable, but they also have a pretty solid default setting.

Oh, and for the subtitle settings, I found this a little non intuitive at first, but you have the choice of default, burned in, or forced only. Forced only is for things like characters suddenly switching languages, so that's separate from the continuous subtitles. Burned in means that the subtitles will always appear in the video, no matter what. i would usually recommend against this, although maybe it would make things easier for burning the DVDs. With the default setting, you can choose to show or not show the subtitles.

You can also have multiple sets of subtitles and/or audio tracks in the same file. This is especially useful when you have things like director's commentaries. (Some DVDs include this as a completely different movie, but most just have the additional audio track.) If you use VLC to play the files, you can use the top menu to select a particular audio or subtitle track.

Another counterintuitive (to me at least) aspect is that the speed of burning isn't just about how fast it does the ripping. The faster the setting the larger the file ends up being; slower settings will give you better quality video and a smaller file. I would recommend medium as a good compromise.

I have zero music or video on any of my devices that comes from a non-official source, and have generally jumped through hoops to play nice with the owners. But they seem to go out of their way to make it possible for people to enjoy their legally purchased content.

For what it's worth, I totally feel you on this. It's particularly frustrating when you have films that aren't released in region 1 format. I buy all my music and videos through legal and official sources, but I also think once I do that, I should have control over these kinds of things.

Actually, the main reason I first started using handbrake is that I got tired of my DVDs getting ruined from scratches and what not. They're just so fragile and it's such a bummer to spend $20 on a DVD and have it end up unplayable. That's one huge advantage of ripping the DVDs to your computer using a computer like Handbrake, especially for movies that might be harder to replace.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:50 PM on April 11, 2016

Sorry for the late follow-up but I was successful using the Handbrake method on Windows 7. I then used a free program to assemble a DVD with sort of a cheesy English title/chapter screen and now can watch it on my US DVD player. Hooray! I did make about 10 "coasters" during this process. The final trick was that the burning program was defaulting to PAL instead of NTSC in a not-obvious settings page, so I first got a playable title screen and a non-playable PAL main section.

BTW the DVD in question is the In concert by Tokyo Karankoron. It is a fantastic 2+ hour concert video and in the end was worth all the headache!
posted by freecellwizard at 12:33 PM on April 26, 2016

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