DVD region restriction on latest powerbook - definitive solution anyone?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by patrickq, Oct 23, 2005.

  1. patrickq macrumors member

    Mar 23, 2005
    I've trawled through a lot of posts trying to get to the bottom of this one, so apologies if it appears that I am yet again repeating a question - but still looking for the safest, easiest definitive solution.

    First I'd like to say that I find Apple's position on this decidely crass. I bought a Powerbook to enable me to use it elsewhere other than in my living room. I am fortunate to be travelling in the Far East and Europe, possibly elsewhere. Apple's restriction means I would have to buy all my dvds from one country/region and then either copy them to the hard disk when I travel, or carry them around with me. Pathetic, Jobs needs to get a realistic view on life. We don't all have to pander to the instructions from the movie industry ... at least that's what it would appear to be! So I need to overcome their petty restriction, not so I can save a few bob buying overseas dvds, but so that I can use £1500 worth of laptop efficiently.

    I am not keen on doing anything that might upset the workings of my new Powerbook. I understand that the Superdrive has an inbuilt 5 change limit and this is repeated in the DVD software. Presumably the software element could be easily overcome, by reloading every so often, or having 2 or 3 versions loaded, 1 for each region. I had thought of doing this on my portable Firelite hard disk, but I don't think this solves the problem.

    Has anyone successfully overcome the restrictions, on a recent Powerbook? If so please can you give fairly detailed description ... I'm not that clued up on everything Mac!

    Having raised the above critiscism, I must say I am finding this Powerbook excellent otherwise, really enjoying using it ... just have to transfer stuff over from my antiquated G3, broken hinge, OS9, no USB etc, but must have been a good 8 years or so with it.
  2. thomasp macrumors 6502a

    Sep 18, 2004
    This isn't a "new" thing, this DVD region restriction. Our 3 - 4 year old G4 MDD desktop (which did run OSX10.2.1 until a while ago) had the same restrictions.

    My previous-gen PB also has the same.

    There are tweaks you can get that unlock the region thingy, and you can use VLC to play DVD's. Search the forums, as it has been mentioned a few times (use the 'Search' link at the top)
  3. mrichmon macrumors 6502a

    Jun 17, 2003
    The issue is not Steve Jobs pandering to the movie industry. It is the standard for DVDs that the moive industry put in place. Manufacturers of DVD hardware, ie set-top DVD players and DVD drives for computers are required to produce RPC-2 compliant drives if they want to use the DVD-ROM logo and claim compliance.

    RPC-2 requires that the region setting in the drive can only be changed 5 times, with a maximum number of factory resets (allowing another 5 region changes each). RPC-2 also specifies certain region checking operations to be invalid. These operations were previously possible with RPC-1 drives and as an unintended side-effect made it possible for software to work around region encoding.

    If you really feel strongly about region encoding, write your congressman or other government officials. The practice can be changed and some governments are trying to do so. For example, the Australian government is using region encoding as the basis for claiming that the movie industry has engaged in anti-competitive practices and region encoding is manipulating the market.

    Any new firmware for your superdrive has the potential for messing up the inner workings of your laptop. Specifically, flashing a new firmware could fry your drive.

    Having said that, there are no region free firmwares publically available for any superdrive released in Powerbooks after April 2004. There has not been much time for people to look at the drive in the new powerbooks but it is likely that they use an encrypted firmware like the UJ-825 drive (assuming the new powerbooks use a matshita drive). Realistically I don't think we will be seeing an RPC-1 firmare for the drives in the new powerbooks for at least 12 months.

    In the meantime you can use VLC to watch DVDs from any region. To avoid the question of changing region when you insert a DVD go into your System Preferences to the CDs & DVDs pane and set "When you insert a video DVD:" to "Ignore".
  4. patrickq thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 23, 2005
    Thanks for responses.

    Thomasp, I did realise this had been going on since early days, just never had to worry about it myself until now. My G3 Powerbook only had CD player, by the way I find it amusing reading critiscisms of the latest Powerbook improvements - when I got the G3 it was cutting edge with 300MHz and 64Mb memory, I recall adding a 'massive' extra 128Mb, people thought I was crazy!
    I'll have a look at the VLC fix, but have read several comments saying it is buggy, so was trying to avoid.

    Apologies to Mr Jobs in that case! But Jobs does have interests in the Movie business I believe, so it does him no harm, he wins either way. I presume from what you say that the region free players one can readily buy (in the UK) cannot display the DVD-ROM logo, which I guess is a small price to pay ... maybe Apple could release cheaper versions without this valuable logo ... ok, being slightly facetious here!

    This is why I was reluctant to mess with it, is this the fix that would release the actual SuperDrive?

    I have now done this, but will the SuperDrive still be counting up the number of different regions? If not, then why do I need to do anything to the SuperDrive?
  5. mrichmon macrumors 6502a

    Jun 17, 2003
    The DVD-ROM logo only indicates that the drive is compliant with the spec. Technically the important part is that the drive has a valid decoding key. These keys are controlled by the DVD consortium who are enforcing the region encoding. The region free players you can buy in the UK and other places are not shipped from the factory as region free players. They are either modified by the retailer, or have an undocumented remote control code that bypasses region checks.

    The superdrive does no counting. VLC does its own decoding of the DVD data. The Apple DVD player uses the DVD drive to decode the video. For the Apple DVD player software to work the drive must be set to the same region as the disc being played. If the regions do not match then the Apple DVD player software pops up a dialog asking if you really want to change the drive region. So long as you are not using the Apple DVD software (and not using any other DVD software that uses the drive to decode) then you don't need to be concerned.

    Basically there are two options:
    • Apple DVD software (and other commercial software) enforces region locking. To be able to play any DVD you need to have an RPC-1 DVD drive. For some superdrives there are modified firmwares that can be flashed to the drive to make it an RPC-1 drive.
    • Use VLC to play DVDs. VLC ignores region encoding by accessing the disc as data and performing the region decoding in software. This approach means that RPC-2 drives can be used to watch DVDs from any region without ever changing the region of the DVD drive.

    An RPC-1 drive roughly means region free. An RPC-1 drive relies on the DVD player software to enforce the region encoding. You can use software such as DVDRegion to set the region before playing any disk. This software does not change the hardware settings.

    An RPC-2 drive is region locked in the hardware.

    All drives currently produced are RPC-2 drives. The modified firmwares for DVD drives change the drive's behavior so that it is an RPC-1 drive.
  6. patrickq thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 23, 2005
    mrichmon, thanks for that, clarity at last, it now makes sense, believe it or not I searched through endless posts and didn't see the reasoning behind why one used VLC etc. Thanks again.
  7. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    Do Apple even use the logo in the first place?

    It's hardly "undocumented" when it's printed on a slip of paper that comes with the player :rolleyes:

    I agree though, when I can go to a local shop and buy a region 1 DVD, I'd expect that a locally-purchased computer would be able to play them too.

    Edit: And I just got this: :eek:

    Attached Files:

  8. mrichmon macrumors 6502a

    Jun 17, 2003
    That's a slip of paper rather than the product manual. Are these instructions provided by the retailer or the manufacturer. There may be some manufacturers who are willing to ignore the DVD consortium rules and risk not getting keys for their next models. But these manufacturers tend to not stay in business long.

    In the cases I have seen any instructions for removing the region checking in set-top DVD players have been provided by the retailer. This is particularly true in countries such as NZ that are far out of sync with the US cinema release times. Region encoding is primarily a way for the movie studios to maintain ticket office sales in the face of staggered cinema release dates. Without region encoding, people are likely to buy movies on DVD from the US rather than wait to see the movie in a cinema in Australia or NZ as an example.
  9. myprettycabinet macrumors newbie

    Oct 24, 2005
    It still won't play a DVD from a different region. Is there a special technique to opening it?
  10. patrickq thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 23, 2005
    I had the similar problem and haven't had time to find out why yet, in fact I've removed VLC and might try to download again.

    I've set to 'ignore', opened VLC, clicked on 'open disc', then get a brief second only of recognition (the DVD title appears in box), that is as far as it will go. I've tried various alternatives; opening as VCD, double clicking, praying :), but to no avail.

    Maybe it is just that it won't work with the latest Powerbooks?

    I'll keep you posted if I sort it out.

  11. goodwisha macrumors newbie


    Nov 7, 2005
    DVD Region

    I have found the same problem with region codes. Using a rip program to put the movie on your hard drive requires too much space. A solution I found is a program called Hand Brake 0.7.0 it's beta and free to download. It does many options but the one thing that it does that please me is I take a dvd and rip it into an MP4 which is playable on the computer and is a small file most of the movies are 700 - 900 mb give or take. It does have a target option to put it at 700mb. It does take time but in the long run I find it worth it especially being on the road often. I can put several videos on one DVD and watch them off of the computer.
  12. benpatient macrumors 68000

    Nov 4, 2003
    the reason why "screen grabs are not available" is because the new Tiger screen drawing system (which lets the graphics card control the final output to a greater degree than has previously been done) would by design capture a screenshot of a copyrighted (macrovision blocked) image from a DVD movie. It used to be that if you did a screen capture with OS X of a DVD, it would just "capture" a black square instead of the image you want from the movie. It did this because in essence the rendering engine is giving the dvd a black screen that it's allowed to "fill."

    now that the graphics card is "in the loop" where 2D is concerned, you can't "black out" the frames anymore. So, in order to "comply" with the recording industry, apple has decided to disable screenshots when a copyrighted DVD screenshot might in theory be taken.

    basically, Apple inadvertently developed a software solution to get around the inherent difficulties with taking a screenshot of a DVD, and then they put in a software "fix" to the situation. Pretty lame, if you ask me.

    I wonder if someone's worked out a solid way to bypass it...
  13. csubear macrumors 6502a


    Aug 22, 2003
    You could take dvd screen shots in 10.2 . Best work around is to

    a) download vlc
    b) use the terminal command screencapture .
  14. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Actually, there's also at least one (probably more) freeware apps that let you specifically take screenshots of the DVD player. I've been using a very old one that, while much flakier than when it was new due to software changes, still works well enough. I'm sure there are smoother apps as well.
  15. Marble macrumors 6502a


    May 13, 2003
    Tucson, AZ
    VLC won't play my BBC R2 DVDs either, even though I've tried the "procedure." I have an old 1Ghz Titanium Powerbook, so it can't be that this is a problem only with the newer models.
  16. graydecember macrumors member

    Jan 2, 2002
    VLC does *not* work anymore to play region 2 dvds, now that I've upgraded to a new widescreen powerbook. Neither does Handbrake. Both work fine on my ibook g4 though.

    everywhere I go everyone is giving the same advice: try VLC. But I'm using it the same way I always have and it isn't working (tried multiple versions, too). Has anyone *actually* successfully played non local discs in their (US version) PB 15"? Please advise if you have. But it appears VLC is no longer a solution. Very annoying.
  17. Eagon macrumors member

    Aug 27, 2005
    i too have the exact same problem and have researched the problem extensively. I have come to the conclusion that the only solution for me is to buy an external DVD drive and switch the region on it. VLC is unable to play region encoded DVDs using my model of superdrive because of the hardware restriction and the same is true of mactheripper which brings up an error message when it reaches the end of the ripping process. when you try to playback the video_ts files you get a message from the film studio saying that the dvd you are trying to watch was not intended for your region, so not even ripping software can bypass the hardware RPc-2 barrier :(
  18. graydecember macrumors member

    Jan 2, 2002
    My solution

    Fortunately, I still have my ibook, so last night I ripped .mpegs of my region 2 films and firewired them to my powerbook. Now I can burn them to a dvd.

    It's interesting that this region lock issue has now forced me to invoke my right to watch what I've paid for and physically rip and burn a new copy of the discs. Seems like they've provoked me to bring a new "unauthorized" copy into the world, the very thing they say theu don't want.

    What I would like to know is, they are DVD editions of films from 1967 and 1982. Why must there be different region codes for films that have debuted so long ago?
  19. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England

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