The Blu-ray Region Free Guide

Original Page URL: http://www.digital-digest.com/articles/Blu-ray_Region_Free_Guide_page1.html
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Date Added: Feb 22, 2008
Date Updated: Apr 17, 2008


Blu-ray Logo


Now that Blu-ray has won the HD format now, this is one of the fist articles on Digital Digest dedicated to Blu-ray. But even had HD DVD not folded so quickly, this guide would still be a Blu-ray only guide. Why? Simple. It's because this guide is about how to make play Blu-ray movies region-free on your PC - there can never be a HD DVD equivalent of this guide because HD DVD is region-free.

It's still very early for Blu-ray playback on PCs, and even earlier for making it region-free, so please bare with me. Hopefully, as new techniques and software solutions become available, this guide will be updated accordingly. If you are still confused about HD and Blu-ray in general, these following resources may be of help:

Future versions of this guide will even features region-free instructions and tips for Blu-ray standalones, but for now, this guide concentrates on making Windows PCs region-free. Ok, let's start.


The Blu-ray Region Coding System

Blu-ray has 3 different regions, which are different to that of DVDs. While DVDs use region numbering, Blu-rays use region lettering - the letters A, B and C represent the 3 regions of Blu-ray. Region A consists of North American, Central America, South America, East Asia (except for China) and South East Asia. Region B is Europe, Africa, Middle East, New Zealand, and of course, Australia (where I am). Region C is for everywhere else, but mainly China, Russian and India. As with DVDs, you can find the region coding information on the back of the movie cover.

Region A Region A Region A Region A

Note that not all Blu-ray movies are region coded. Movies from Warner Bros., and upcoming releases from Paramount and Universal will most likely all be region-free. Disney and Sony's catalogue title releases are usually region-free as well, and only their new movie releases are region coded. All Fox Blu-ray titles are region coded, even catalogue titles.

The situation with Blu-ray computer drives is even more confusing than with DVD drives. Some Blu-ray drives do not have region locking in hardware (eg. some LG drives), while others are hard coded into the drive's firmware (eg. Matshita drives). All still carry the same DVD region locking system as DVD drives. As such, only the Blu-ray drives without hardware locking can be unlocked through the various techniques for software based players (PowerDVD, WinDVD) covered by this guide, so if your Blu-ray drive is region-locked, the instructions for PowerDVD/WinDVD will probably not work. On the other hand, if you do have a drive without hardware region-locking, then the solution is quite simple to perform in software.

Bypassing AACS

AACS is the copy protection system used on Blu-ray. If you bypass AACS, you can then be allowed to remove region coding as well during playback. Bypassing AACS is illegal, and as such, this website will not cover these instructions. Unlike the defeated HD DVD, Blu-ray also uses BD+ copy protection. BD+ is more versatile than AACS, and it can be changed on the fly to detect the absence of AACS, and so on titles that use BD+ (some Fox Blu-rays), the methods which bypasses AACS will not work.

AACS

There is a new tool that, once you bypass AACS, allows you to strip region coding from the Blu-ray files. This tool can even strip BD-J based region detection. You can download the Blu-ray Region Code Remover tool here.

Blu-ray Region Code Remover


PowerDVD Ultra Region Hack

Please note, the following instructions only work if your Blu-ray drive is a type that does not have hardware based region coding.

Currently, PowerDVD Ultra is the premier commercially available Blu-ray software player on the market. Unlike DVDs, Blu-ray region settings for computer are apparently stored in software, not in hardware. What you get when you first install PowerDVD Ultra is for the region code to be set to A. You can then change the region 5 more times before the region counter reaches zero, and you are no longer able to change regions - this is similar to the DVD software region code system that previous versions of PowerDVD employs. And just like with the older PowerDVD versions, there are ways to manually set the region without the counter being reset, or even to reset the counter itself. And hence, you get unlimited region changes, and a region-free system.

The method below, and the ZIP file download, was first published in this article, and Digital Digest take no credit in inventing this and other methods. If this method has really helped you, I recommend you visit the My Digital Life website and click on their ads or something to help them out.

Windows XP

Download and extract the contents of this ZIP file to a folder on your system. There are 4 files in the ZIP file, one for setting each region (without decreasing the region counter), and another to set the number of available region changes to a huge number (64,000 times in provided registry file). To use the file, all you have to do is to double-click/open the files, and you will be prompted to add the information in the registry file to your Windows registry.

Registry Editor


If the addition was successful, then you will get the following prompt:
Registry Editor


And that's all there is to it. Easy as pie.

Windows Vista

Changing the Blu-ray region code without decreasing the region counter is even easier in Windows Vista. All you have to do is to go to the directory that PowerDVD Ultra is installed in (for example, "c:\ProgramData\Cyberlink\PowerDVD\") and find the "CLDShowX.ini" file. Ensure PowerDVD Ultra is not running, and then simply delete "CLDShowX.ini". Restart PowerDVD Ultra, and the region settings will be reset to "A" with 5 changes remaining. Nice and easy.


PowerDVD 8 Ultra Region Hack

Please note, the following instructions only work if your Blu-ray drive is a type that does not have hardware based region coding.

Getting rid of the Blu-ray region change restriction in PowerDVD 8 is not as simple as in PowerDVD 7, but still relatively simple.

BD region control in PowerDVD 8 is stored in a file called BRF.dat, and it is controlled by a runtime program called brs.exe (Blu-ray Region System?). If brs.exe is running in the background, BRF.dat cannot be deleted or modified except by PowerDVD. However, if you stop brs.exe, then you can simply delete BRF.dat and the region settings will default back to the original settings (no region selected, 5 changes left).

If brs.exe is already running, you can stop it by using any Windows process manager. First make sure PowerDVD isn't running. The built-in Windows Task Manager works as well - you can enable it by right clicking on the Windows task bar and selecting "Task Manager" or pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del and selecting "Task Manager" from there.

Task Manager


In Task Manager, go to the "Processes" tab and find the "brs.exe" program, right click on it and select "End Process". Press "Yes" on the warning prompt that pops up and "brs.exe" should no longer be a running process. Close Task Manager.

Task Manager: end brs.exe


You can now find and delete the BRF.dat file. On Windows XP, it is usually located in "X:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\CyberLink\BDNAV" (where X:\ is the drive that Windows is installed on). On Windows Vista, it should be in "X:\ProgramData\Cyberlink\BDNAV\". Just delete this file and start PowerDVD. The Blu-ray region settings should have reset.

BRF.dat


PowerDVD 8 Configuration: BDROM


But the next time you reboot, brs.exe will have restarted. You can cause brs.exe to shutdown permanently by using a tool called "msconfig". Be careful using this tool as if you deselect the wrong item, certain programs could fail to start the next time you reboot. Press the Windows key + R (or click on the Start button and select "Run") and type in "msconfig" to launch the tool. Go to the "Startup" section and find the item named "brs" - uncheck the checkbox next to it. Press "Apply" and "Close" to close the System Configuration tool - you may be asked if you wish to restart the system or to exit the config tool without restarting ... chose either option.

msconfig: brs


The next time Windows boots, brs.exe won't be automatically set to run and so you can delete BRF.dat without having to shut down this process in the future.



WinDVD Region Hack

Please note, the following instructions only work if your Blu-ray drive is a type that does not have hardware based region coding.

Certain Blu-ray enabled PCs and laptops come with WinDVD as the Blu-ray software player. For example, Sony Vaio laptop computers come with WinDVD BD, although it is not commercially available as a separate software package (as far as I know). Unlike DVDs, Blu-ray region settings for computer are apparently stored in software, not in hardware. WinDVD BD also has a region counter system for setting regions, meaning you get to change the region code 5 times before you are locked from making any more changes. Because things are done in software, it is easy to be able to delete the file that holds the region counter, and thus, reset the counter. However, WinDVD BD makes it slightly trickier because a system driver runs in the background locking the file in question, and thus, it won't allow you to simply delete it like a normal file. You could, of course, boot into safe mode or another operating system installed that can access the relevant hard-disk partition, and then delete the file normally. The method listed below will allow you to delete the file without having to do any of these things.

First, we need a way to disable the system driver in question. There are many ways you can do it, but this is a way that I learned by reading article (specifically, one of the comments in this article). I'm not sure where this method originated from, but a quick Google Search found this post on the Inmatrix forum.

Anyway, download and install the free Autoruns software from this page. Open up the ZIP file extract the files into a folder on your computer. Go to that folder and run "autoruns.exe". When the program starts, go to the "Drivers" tab and locate the driver "regi" or "regi.sys". Uncheck the checkbox next to it (don't delete the item) and close Autoruns. Restart Windows.

Autoruns


When Windows finishes restarting, go to your Windows's "System32" directory (for example, "c:\Windows\System32", or you can use the Windows Run function and type in "%WinDir%\System32" to open up this directory). Find the file "ivireg.ivr" and delete it (make a backup, if you wish).

Run Autoruns again and go to the "Drivers" tab. This time, re-enable "regi.sys" (check the checkbox next to it) and close Autoruns. Restart Windows again. When you next run WinDVD BD, it will recreate the now missing "ivireg.ivr" and it will use the default region data, which gives you 5 more times to change the counter. Hooray!



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