Regional Tension

Why, in the name of fuck, do the likes of Window Media Player and Power DVD insist on policing what kind of DVDs I play on my PC? It's none of their business.

Windows Media Player almost earned itself a black eye the other day, when I attempted the heinous crime of playing a Region 2 (Europe, Oz and, uh, other stuff) DVD. Perversely, WMP is packaged on my new PC (which is, worryingly, displaying a blue screen of death each and every day) with a default setting of Region 1 (US/Canada), but will only allow me to change the region setting four times. So what's the logic here? Region-switching is either okay, or it isn't. And clearly, no-one apart from the makers of DVD-playing software gives a flying fuck about DVD regions any more. Apparently, these new-fangled HD-DVD discs are region-free, so clearly the days of shiny-disc segregation are over.

Yet... yet... here's Windows Media Player, popping up with the oh-so-patronising message: "You need to obtain a disc appropriate to your international region". Cheers for that, you electronic cock.


Laura Anderson said...


Jason Arnopp said...

Hello madam! Is that a 'yikes' in a 'Blimey, blokes don't half get themselves all worked up over technology!' kinda way?

Laura Anderson said...


William Gallagher said...

In theory there's a DVD/video player called VLC that ignores region coding and just plays the bleedin' thing.

I say it's in theory because I know the Mac version is supposed to do that, I'm only presuming the PC one does. And I've never got it to work, either, so this is becoming progressively less useful to you.


Lee said...

Even less useful, I just threw away a region free player you could have had.

Now you can't.

Piers said...

Yep, VLC does indeed ignore the region-coding.

Get it here.

And you're right to get annoyed.

Jason Arnopp said...

Knew I could rely on you to feel my pain, Mr Beckley!

Of course, the fact that I could simply walk across the room and shove a disc in a regular DVD player is neither here nor there. It's the principle, goddamit!

Robin Kelly said...

It's not WMP's fault, it's the computer itself. If you use something like Power DVD you will get the same message.

Four settings allows you to move country a few times in your lifetime, they weren't thinking of people using it for nefarious ends - like playing cheaper, better quality or unreleased DVDs from outside their own region.

I use AnyDVD to solve the problem and saves me the walk across to the room.

richard purves said...

It's not as simple as just using an alternative DVD player program. Problem is there is region encoding not only on just the software, but also on the damn dvd drive in your pc too.

Both must be hacked or you'll end up stuck on a particular region.

PowerDVD is easy to bypass with a free utility from called DVD Genie. Not the easiest thing in the world to use, but easier than getting a region free DVD drive firmware and flashing the drive with it ... which is what you'd have to do next anyway.

Give me a call if you're still stuck with it. Failing that, i'm sure you can concoct an excuse to get me to ring you to EMAP's helpdesk :p

Jon Peacey said...

"they weren't thinking of people using it for nefarious ends - like playing cheaper, better quality or unreleased DVDs from outside their own region."

-Anyone would think they'd not heard of the wonder of the Internet, what with it allowing international trade and all: that's the trouble with these techno-inventor-bods... just not on the cutting edge! ;-)

William Gallagher said...

You can also rip DVDs to get them to shed their region coding.

I found this out entirely coincidentally when I just ripped something to watch on my iPhone and realised afterwards that it was a different region than I'd thought.