Your computer’s DVD drive may stop plying non-UK discs but you can break the lock
DVD “regions” are the invention of film-distribution companies, who would prefer that consumers only buy discs intended for release in their home territory. The idea is that disc releases can be staggered around the world, maximising marketing opportunities and, of course, Hollywood profits.
There is NO “law” that forbids the unlocking of your DVD.
DVD drives on new PCs allow the user to change region just five times before insisting on “locking” to a chosen region. Fortunately, with the right knowledge and specialist software, it’s possible to break the lock. Again, this process is quite legal, though doing so may invalidate the drive’s warranty.
Getting the Information you need
The first thing to do is find the exact model and firmware version of your DVD drive. Device Manager in Windows may not give you enough information, so an extra piece of software is required. DISC info will give you all the information needed about a drive. Download it from www.dvd-supply.com/lib/dvdsupply/DISCInfo155.zip and extract the files from the compressed ZIP folder. Launch the DISC Info application and note down the information it displays about your drive … you’ll need this for the next step.
Now that you know the version of the firmware software in your drive you need to find out what modifications are needed to remove the region protection. A good place to start is The Firmware Page at www.rpc1.org. There are listings for all kinds of DVD drive. Click on the Download firmware link on the left-hand side of the page and find the listing for your drive model number as reported in DISC Info you noted down in the first step.
Take this opportunity first
Before looking for patched firmware for your drive, check to see if there are any updates available from the manufacturer. The links from The Firmware Page should take you to the manufacturer’s update page. Now, back at The Firmware Page website, use the Download Search link to locate the required firmware-flashing software for your drive. In this instance my Liteon LTC-48161H drive required a utility called LtnRPC, which I duly downloaded.
Now let’s do it
Install the appropriate firmware-flashing software on your computer … in my case it was called CO48KH0R.EXE (XFlash), this is the latest firmware upgrade for my Liteon. Double-click on the icon to launch it. You should read any help file that came with the firmware-flashing utility, if there is one, in my case there was not, it wasn’t difficult. When it has finished, restart your computer as requested.
Now that your drive has had its region-checking facility disabled you also need to remove the checking that is built into Windows and the DVD-playback software. The easiest way to do this is with DVD Region Killer. Download it and install it on your computer.
If Windows disputes the number of changes you can reset it by clicking on the Windows tab and using the Erase command to remove the region settings from the Registry. Always make a backup of the Registry before making any changes to it. You can do this using Advanced mode in Windows Backup utility, which you’ll find under the System Tools submenu from the Start menu.
A strong word of warning : If your unsure about any of the procedures I have mentioned here then please do not proceed … you can render your DVD drive useless.