Language instructors will often import media from other parts of the world, and when they return to the United States, they find they can no longer play the media they purchased abroad. This is because of the international system of DVD region codes.
Ostensibly, the justification for the creation of region codes was to make it possible to release a film in one region, for example North America, before it was released in another region, for example Europe, and prevent people in the region where the film has not yet been released from buying DVDs from the region where the film was first released (in this case North America); that is, to prevent Europeans from buying the North American version. The rationale was that if too many Europeans bought the North American version, this would cut into sales of the European versions. Arguably, the real reason for region codes is to enforce price differentials in different markets, similar to how pharmaceutical companies enforce price differentials between the USA and Canada for the same drugs.
VLC Video Player
VLC is free and open source software for multimedia playback. Using VLC instead of Apple’s native DVD Player software or the built-in Windows apps you may be using is a great solution.
Once you download and do the drag and drop install (on Mac OS X) you will be able to go into your CD/DVD System Preferences and change the mapping of what to do when you insert a DVD from the Apple DVD Player to VLC.
After you have mapped it there in your System Preferences (in OS X) when you insert a DVD of whatever region, VLC will launch and give you an initial controller palette. Pressing play will then prompt for the user to tell it where to obtain the media and in general all you will need to do is click over to the ‘Disk’ tab as it will recognize the DVD and click play. You also have full-screen viewing options as well. Playing the DVD through VLC will not prompt for a region code change.
VLC is not only great for handling region code issues with DVDs, but great as an all-around media player for Quicktime movies, .avi and other formats.
- Thomas Hedden’s post: “DVD Region Codes and Video Encoding Standards, and How to Overcome Them“
- VLC Download (Windows/Mac OS)
- VLC Tutorials: Windows and Mac