Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lockout Bypasses

Though most are unaware of this system, and it does have some positive feature, some customers who are interested in importing foreign media will find regional lockout irritating. Here are a few examples of how to get around these locks. But some of these have consequences which can potentially be legal.

The first and most obvious possibility is to just use a system with the proper region codes such as a Region 2 DVD player for a Region 2 DVD. This method can be very expensive. The customer will, of course, have to by the additional player, which could potentially not fit their countries electrical outlets and standards. This as well as other complications might require adaptors to make the device usable.

Some DVD players are designed to be region-free and able to play DVDs from any region. Most players that aren't region-free will allow a user to change its region code after they have entered a special code with the remote or controller. These codes aren't often shared by the devices' manufacturers, and they will need to be found on certain sites that list them for specific players.

Another option is to use a device called a modification (or mod) chip which is manually installed into the player or game console. The mod chip works by intercepting or bypassing the system that checks the code on the disk and allows the device to play disks from any region. Since this requires customer to personally install the chip, it can possibly be improperly installed. This also circumvents the copy protection components of the system which can be illegal and void your system's warranty. Manufacturers also change their systems' physical design in newer models to try to prevent mod chips from installing properly.

Though most DVD drives in personal computers will change their internal codes when a different disk is inserted, they will lock to the last region code used after five changes. After that, the user will need to either install a new DVD drive or use an external drive that plugs into a USB or other port. Video playing software such as VLC are able play DVDs regardless of region though.

The disks themselves can be copied and burned to new disks. Certain sections of the disks are protected preventing them from being properly copied and playable. Some software and mod chips will allow official disks to be copied and copied disks to be playable. Then, when the disk is recreated, it can be written with a different region code. Since the consumer is reproducing copyrighted material, depending on what they do with it, they can get into legal trouble. The consumer does have limited permission to copy disks they have purchased, but only for to backup and archive and not to sell or distribute.

Software, called emulators, are able to imitate game consoles and are able to play ROMs of games released for those consoles. Emulators don't use region codes and are able to play any game converted to ROM form. Again, since this is reproducing both the games and the consoles that run them, the use and distribution of emulators can be illegal. Most of these are for much older consoles like NES and Super NES and are somewhat ignored. But emulators and ROMs for more recent consoles would not be appreciated. Use of emulators and ROMs should only be when both the console and games played are owned by the user.

For anyone who wants to get around regional lockout, these as well as others are methods that can bypass it. Many of them are illegal or unethical for a reason, and the consumer should keep in consideration the companies that make and distribute these products.


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