So recently Baceman007, aka The Minister of Common Sense, posted some comments in regard to code free DVD players. Some of the links he pointed out were:
First, let me say that I've never used these sites and I have no knowledge of their effectiveness and/or legality, and I would never knowingly encourage you to do anything illegal. Baceman007 also made a similar disclaimer in his comments. I'd also add that some years ago I looked around for DVD region code hacks and found a number of them, many of which actually involved physically jumpering out/replacing components. So I'd only recommend this if you plan to trash your player if you fail.
Furthermore, often hacking the region code is only half the battle. For most foreign DVD's, you also have to convert PAL format to NTSC to play on an American TV.
Personally, for my time and money (especially if you need a new player anyway), I'd rather just There are any number of online stores that'll sell you one if you just search google for "code free dvd player". One I've used before and have never had a problem with is http://www.world-import.com/dvd.htm. I'm not guaranteeing it's the best or cheapest or anything, just that I've used it before and it worked for me.
Finally, as for the greedy studios who imposed this system--I don't know a lot about the worldwide movie distribution business, but it seems to me that the studios have less to lose from import DVDs than do individual theater owners. Perhaps more money is made on theatrical release than DVD, but more and more I hear that that's not the case. If the studio get the $$ from a DVD sale, whether it's sold in America or in Europe, I don't see how the studio loses all that much (note that I'm talking about import of legitimate studio DVDs, not piracy--that's a different issue). Sure, import DVD sales could cannibalize theater box office, but I think that's already happening for many movies. I personally know several people who'll purposely miss several movies because they'd rather rent them on Netflix than spen $10 to see them on the big screen. People who go to the movies nowadays are people who care about the big screen experience--not just big special effects but the experience of sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers and having a shared experience. I'm not saying studios aren't greedy or that they aren't the driving force behind enforcing region codes. I'm just saying that the system protects more than just the studio interests. Primarily, it protects local distributors and theater owners, and consequently it protects theater patrons. Sure, it can be frustrating to wait for a much-hyped movie to come out in your country, but if you care that much for a few bucks the system can be circumvented anyway. In fact, my only real complaint about the system is that it's a joke--it's so easy to circumvent that why implement it in the first place? Just release movies more or less simultaneously worldwide (perhaps some smaller movies won't have enough prints), and release on DVD after it's played everywhere theatrically.
Really, I think the current system is actually a fairly comfortable balance (well, maybe not that comfortable). The people who want to see foreign movies that might never make it to the US can see them if they look hard enough and spend a few extra bucks on a code free DVD player (again, I'm not talking about piracy, that's illegal and wrong and I want nothing to do with it). Neither the studios nor the theaters have any interest in hassling me for having a code free player, since I spend so much money on their product every year. And when I buy a DVD, I'll always buy the american version if it's available at the time (or I know when it will be available) and has all the features I want (very rarely I've bought a foreign version of a DVD because it had an extra not available on the american version).
Anyway, as I said I'm not an expert in the economics of worldwide film distribution, but that's my rant. Your mileage may vary.