A workmate had a DVD he had bought in the UK. Strummerville - a history of Joe Strummer and the Clash. He couldn't play it. He wanted to know what it was, and he wanted to see it, one way or another.
I put it into my Blu-Ray player and that said "Cannot play". No reason given. I put it into my handy-dandy Cyberhome $50 special DVD player, now region-free, and it played just fine. So it wasn't a bad disc.
I put it in my Linux computer, ripped it, converted it to mp4 and handed it all back to him. That was fine, and he can now play it, but he still wanted to know what was wrong with it, why didn't it play in his DVD player? It's not a big deal as he can watch it on his big TV, pushed through his Apple TV. So back to Linux.
lsdvd gave me the answer.
$ lsdvd -x /data/Movies/STRUMMERVILLE libdvdread: Using libdvdcss version 1.2.11 for DVD access libdvdread: Couldn't find device name. Couldn't read enough bytes for title. Disc Title: unknown Title: 01, Length: 00:58:00.010 Chapters: 15, Cells: 15, Audio streams: 01, Subpictures: 00 VTS: 02, TTN: 01, FPS: 25.00, Format: PAL, Aspect ratio: 16/9, Width: 720, Height: 576, DF: Letterbox Palette: 000000 d38467 1e8080 798273 ae8d8a 94a099 69bfb1 bc8271 b7865a ae8c35 c78d8a 1e8080 728685 bb7d91 1e8080 6c7f88 Number of Angles: 1 Audio: 1, Language: en - English, Format: ac3, Frequency: 48000, Quantization: drc, Channels: 2, AP: 0, Content: Undefined, Stream id: 0x80
There we go - it's in PAL format. Most cheap players in the USA only know about NTSC. This one was bought in the UK, so it's in PAL format.
I thought I better check for the region too, so I used vlc on the actual DVD while watching the stdout/stderr output. This came up:
$ vlc /dev/sr0 VLC media player 2.0.1 Twoflower (revision 2.0.1-0-gf432547) [0x804cae8] main libvlc: Running vlc with the default interface. Use 'cvlc' to use vlc without interface. libdvdnav: Using dvdnav version 4.2.0 libdvdread: Using libdvdcss version 1.2.11 for DVD access libdvdnav: DVD Title: Strummerville libdvdnav: DVD Serial Number: 3cb174b3 libdvdnav: DVD Title (Alternative): Strummerville libdvdnav: Unable to find map file '/home/hgriggs/.dvdnav/Strummerville.map' libdvdnav: DVD disk reports itself with Region mask 0x00000000. Regions: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
It is region free. So there we go, it's PAL and region free.