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The One-Use, Self-Destructing DVD Returns 561

Posted by kdawson
from the renting-a-media-experience-while-polluting-too dept.
BonrHanzon writes "Looks like DivX (the stupid one, not the codec) has been resurrected in the form of Flexplay. Staples will be selling these movie disks for 5 bucks a pop at the checkout counter. The disks can be played in any DVD player, but a special adhesive will render the disk unplayable 48 hours after the package has been opened. As if our landfills weren't already overflowing with enough crap." The blog post notes that Flexplay has actually been around for 5 years; the Staples distribution deal is what's new.
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The One-Use, Self-Destructing DVD Returns

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  • Heh, pirates ahoy! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xtense (1075847) <{lp.2o} {ta} {esnetx}> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @02:47AM (#23648461) Homepage
    1. Buy cheaper disposable movie.
    2. Rip it to harddrive.
    3. Dispose of movie.
    4. ???????
    5. PROFIT!
    • by Digestromath (1190577) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @02:53AM (#23648499)
      1. Buy cheaper disposable movie

      2. Discover a cheap 'hack' work around (boil in water, spray with hairspray etc)

      3. Keep the disposable movie

      4. ????????

      5. Profit?

      • by mybadluck22 (750599) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:11AM (#23648575)
        1. Download movie for free

        2. Keep movie forever

        3. There is no step three.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Opportunist (166417)
          And most of all, no profit. So I guess it has to be illegal in some way. If not, it'll soon be made illegal. It's so un-american to charge nothing for nothing.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        focusing on 2, is there any info on what adhesive they use? My guess would be once you get that you can figure out what it sticks to and dunk them in a solute more concentrated than the dvd and just use it as a cheep supply of DVDs
      • by TaoPhoenix (980487) * <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:33AM (#23649629) Journal

        Since you already have rights to the work's initial medium, does this mean than hacks are not violations of DMCA?

        They provided technology for the ORIGINAL disk to self-destruct. You are not breaking tech to make copies, you are *preventing breakage*.

    • by Bios_Hakr (68586) <xptical@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:05AM (#23648547) Homepage
      If you are going to pirate a movie, don't tip-toe around it. Just download the thing from the Internet.
      • by archeopterix (594938) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:19AM (#23648613) Journal

        If you are going to pirate a movie, don't tip-toe around it. Just download the thing from the Internet.
        And miss the joy of sticking it to the man?

        And the joy of making him 5$ richer? Umm, wait. Gotta think about it a bit more. Brb, torrenting.
      • by theheadlessrabbit (1022587) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:19AM (#23648619) Homepage Journal
        so, now can I make the claim that I can not on good conscience rent or purchase a movie due to pollution?

        My deep rooted concerns for our environment, the glaciers, the ozone layer, my grandchildren, his grandchildren, and even your grandchildren prevent me from paying for movies, since it will add more worthless junk to our overflowing landfills.

        Downloading movies produces significantly less waste; therefor, pirating all my media is the only way any responsible, eco-friendly person can be entertained, and still be able to sleep at night.

        does that sound good to everyone else?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          so, now can I make the claim that I can not on good conscience rent or purchase a movie due to pollution?

          My deep rooted concerns for our environment, the glaciers, the ozone layer, my grandchildren, his grandchildren, and even your grandchildren prevent me from paying for movies, since it will add more worthless junk to our overflowing landfills.

          Downloading movies produces significantly less waste; therefor, pirating all my media is the only way any responsible, eco-friendly person can be entertained, and still be able to sleep at night.

          does that sound good to everyone else?

          Yep.

          One more thing... pirating movies is good for the environment in another way.

          It takes money out of the pockets of directors, producers, and actors. You know. Those guys who live in mansions, fly private jets, and own dozens of sport cars while getting up on their high horses about the environment and how we all have to "pitch in" and "do our part."

          Pirate enough movies and they won't be able to afford those mansions, private jets, and sports cars. Their energy consumption will go down, their carbon f

      • by arivanov (12034)
        Most content on the Internet has been recoded into lower resolution. Subtitles are usually stripped and so on.

        While this may do for watching it on a computer, it is usually not enough for a proper viewing experience using a media center system especially if you have it hooked up to a HD screen.

        So given a choice of ripping it and storing it native (and/or recoding it to _MY_ settings) and Internet I would actually chose the rip.
      • by Auckerman (223266) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:48AM (#23649021)
        Here's the funny thing. You OWN a copy of a defective movie. You have every right to back it up before it can no longer be read. It's not a rental, it's a purchase of a self destructing disk at a reduced price. In this case, it's not pirating.
        • by infalliable (1239578) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:39AM (#23649655)
          If we have learned anything from the copyright cops, it's that you never own anything. Despite paying for it, and everyone other than the "MAFIAA" treating it like it was a "sale", they can (or at least try) to do anything they want with it and impose insane restrictions on it.
          • by Sloppy (14984) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @01:00PM (#23655951) Homepage Journal

            Despite paying for it, and everyone other than the "MAFIAA" treating it like it was a "sale",

            Don't forget that they also advertise it as a sale. "Own it now on DVD" are their words; I didn't put it in their mouths.

    • by pubjames (468013) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:08AM (#23648561)
      This is interesting from a legal perspective. Would copying one of these be legal for the home user for home use? You have paid for it, after all.

      Are any of the many lawyers that read Slashdot able to shed a light on this?
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:12AM (#23648587) Journal

      1. Buy cheaper disposable movie.
      2. Rip it to harddrive.
      3. Dispose of movie.
      4. ???????
      5. PROFIT!


      Well, how's that different from...

      1. Rent movie.
      2. Rip it to harddrive.
      3. Return it.
      4. ???????
      5. PROFIT!

      Effectively, this is just a simpler way of renting movies. In fact, so simple that any regular store can get into that business. They don't need to keep track of who rented what, who's overdue, find and replace scratched movies, etc. It just lets them use their normal logistics, which they have in place and are already in place. And it makes it a lot simpler to "rent" them by mail over the internet too.

      It also makes life simpler for people like me, who live half a city away from the nearest movie rental shop. It's more convenient to chuck it into the bin, than have to make a second trip to give it back. In fact, it would save me a lot more trips, since now I'd be able to just go there once and buy a small stack of disposables, and watch them whenever I have time. (The clock starts ticking when you opened it, not when you "rented" it.) No more "omg, I got the whole LOTR trilogy, so it's time to drop everything else and stay awake until 1AM to watch it all. Or just order a small stack of them by mail.

      Of course, it has the same caveats as rentals. Including that if someone wants to rip it, they can. It's not a new problem, though. And I'll venture a wild guess that if it wasn't the end of the world or of the movie business before, the new version can't be that much more destructive ;)
      • by zakezuke (229119) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:37AM (#23648719)

        Well, how's that different from...

        1. Rent movie.
        2. Rip it to harddrive.
        3. Return it.
        4. ???????
        5. PROFIT!
        You get a case with what I presume has a decent cover.

        Rental $2.50
        Longbox $.50
        Photo paper $.25
        Ink - $.75

        To copy a rental could easily cost you $4. For an extra $1 I presume you get the case and cover. That's not so bad.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DrXym (126579)
          To copy a rental could easily cost you $4. For an extra $1 I presume you get the case and cover. That's not so bad.

          Not necessarily. These things look like they arrive in some kind of vacuum sealed pouch which is probably held inside one of those tamper proof plastic shells that you have to cut open.

          A bigger concern for these things is what you get for your money compared to a rental disk. Is it some crappy panned and scanned version of the movie? Does it have any features? Is the disc single layer or ev

    • by Technician (215283) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:24AM (#23648637)
      The blog post notes that Flexplay has actually been around for 5 years; the Staples distribution deal is what's new.

      The only place I've ever seen one of the self destruct discs has been in a truck stop. These have not been sold to geeks to rip. They are sold to convience those on the road without alternative diversions such as high speed internet and blockbuster. No returns on the road is the selling point. How they intend to sell the overpriced product in Staples is a mystery to me. They don't compete with the $5 bin at Wal*Mart.
  • Netflix? (Score:3, Informative)

    by ZiakII (829432) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @02:51AM (#23648485)
    Staples will be selling these movie disks for 5 bucks a pop at the checkout counter.

    Why not just use Netflix then? Unless they are hoping for purely impulse buys, which would be better suited for buying DVDs then simply renting them.
  • They Are Recyclable (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheMiddleRoad (1153113) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @02:52AM (#23648495)
    http://flexplay.com/recycling/ [flexplay.com]

    You can recycle them. You can return them to the store you bought them at for recycling. You can even get a free mailing label and ship them to flexplay for recycling.

    You can also shoot yourself in the face if you're dumb enough to buy this crap.
    • by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:13AM (#23648593) Homepage
      "Flexplay® discs are fully recyclable and conform to all applicable EPA environmental standards. Flexplay has partnered with GreenDisk and local environmental organizations to develop several closed-loop recycling options to test with consumers. As distribution of Flexplay discs increases, Flexplay will continue to work proactively with content providers and recycling partners to broaden the collection and recycling program."

      Read: technically, we could recycle them, but this has not been important enough for use to develop. We have not come beyond some pilot programs that could have been tested by consumers if we bothered to actually implement them. We will keep telling you the discs are recyclable till people notice we're not actually recycling them.
      • by millwall (622730) * on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:21AM (#23648629)
        Flexplay® discs are fully recyclable

        To add to your point, just because something is recyclable does not mean there are no energy costs to recycle.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jamesh (87723)

          just because something is recyclable does not mean there are no energy costs to recycle.

          Along the same lines, there are plastics that are manufactured from otherwise-unused byproducts of petroleum production, so often you have to create more pollution to recycle than you would to just make new ones. Maybe burying them would be a better option? At least you are then taking at least some carbon out of the loop.

          I think someone has put forward the case that it is more environmentally sound to bury paper in the

        • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:07AM (#23649435) Homepage
          Indeed. Ultimately -everything- is recyclable. Every atom in every product could, in principle, be used for a new product. If that is -practical- or -cost-effective- or even environmentally friendly is a completely different question. (if the recycling requires lots of energy and nasty chemicals, it may be that it's a net loss to do it)
    • by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:50AM (#23648761) Homepage
      How is a disposable DVD different than all the water bottles, plastic bags, yogurt pots, polystyrene trays, etc. that are currently being dumped by the trillion?

      This is a drop in the ocean compared to that. Heck, the snack foods consumed while watching the movie will probably create more garbage than the DVD.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855)
        It isn't. Generally, disposable goods are less enviromentally friendly than more durable goods. However, this depends on the cost of production ( in terms of energy, resources ) of the disposable vs. the durable and the number of times the durable item can be reused.

        E.g. plastic cups can be more eco friendly compared to traditional ceramic cups due to the large amounts of energy needed to create the ceramics and the energy and chemicals needed to clean the cup. It all depends on the number of times the cera
    • You can also shoot yourself in the face if you're dumb enough to buy this crap.

      Is there a free shipping label for that, too?
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcd2025 (1246142) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @02:53AM (#23648497)
    Why would anyone do this when you can usually rent it for a week cheaper?
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by $random_var (919061) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:59AM (#23648805)

      Why would anyone do this when you can usually rent it for a week cheaper?
      Convenience. You can't get a rental at just any old checkout counter, because rentals require infrastructure to manage inventory, handle returns, late fees, etc. These things on the other hand can just get pushed out to retail locations same as any regular merchandise that Staples carries. And when you're standing at the Staples checkout, and get to choose between spending $5 to get that movie right now or open a Netflix account and wait a couple days to get it or drive over to Blockbuster... that $5 rental might look mighty tempting.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Technician (215283) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:03AM (#23648841)
      Why would anyone do this when you can usually rent it for a week cheaper?

      If you long haul truck, in a week, you may be over 800 miles from the rental store. The only place I have ever seen a Flexplay disc is at a truck stop. Staples is a new one... I wonder who their target demographic is.

      Staples and those far from home doesn't make sense except for business travelers, then I would expect them in airports instead of Staples office supply stores.
    • It means that I never have to go back to the video store. That is worth a 4x price premium for me. (Oh noes, my entertainment costs increased for $.50 to $2 an hour... oh, phew, not a starving college kid anymore so that difference is no longer supremely important to me.)

      It means I never have to worry about forgetting to go back to the video store (I let two months worth of rental time rot because I just got busy and forgot about movies for a while -- the rental *store* would have charged me boku bucks a
  • $5 disks? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spacejock (727523) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:00AM (#23648525) Homepage
    Here in Australia they're selling once-mainstream DVDs for $6-$8 all over the place. If shoppers would just exhibit a little patience instead of rushing out to buy the latest shiny, they too would benefit from the eventual lower prices.

    I saw the first full page ad for Blu-Ray disks in a supermarket catalogue today. If the shops keep pushing those, DVDs are only going to get cheaper and cheaper.
    • If shoppers would just exhibit a little patience instead of rushing out to buy the latest shiny, they too would benefit from the eventual lower prices.
      If everyone employed that tactic, the companies producing them won't make enough money off them, meaning they won't be around for the price to come down.
  • by debatem1 (1087307) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:04AM (#23648539)
    These things positively scream "rip me! rip me!"- and if they came with that right, I'd probably buy them just to save me the trouble of downloading them. Until then, sorry guys, combining the shoddy packaging of a pirated copy with the transience of a rental is pretty much a prescription for failure.
  • by VincenzoRomano (881055) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:09AM (#23648567) Homepage Journal
    Someone should really forbide this practice by law, for the sake of the environment.
    And someone should really explain those i**ots that this way they'll give the pirates a simple cheap way to get DVD quality copies, without assles and a few pennies.
  • by Firas Zirie (1179357) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:15AM (#23648601)
    Oh, so you want me to pay you $5 for something that will self destruct in two days? Sure I'd be glad to... NOT! Who the hell came up with such a stupid idea? Why on earth would I buy this piece of crap when I can rent a DVD for less than that? This shouldn't even be legal and if it is then humanity is more screwed up than I thought.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by EyelessFade (618151)
      I would if it exploded. Now that would be cool....uhm wait a minute it has a countdown right?
    • by Spy Handler (822350) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:53AM (#23648783) Homepage Journal
      Why on earth would I buy this piece of crap when I can rent a DVD for less than that? This shouldn't even be legal and if it is then humanity is more screwed up than I thought.

      So you're saying that having a less-than-brilliant business model should be illegal? As in, Congress or state legislature should pass a law banning bad business ideas? If so you're just as screwed up as this FlexPlay crap.
  • by stoofa (524247) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:25AM (#23648639)
    I have scoured around TFA but can't find much detail on the actual chemical process. Now, I know it's probably all internal and doesn't involve copious amounts of actual liquid adhesive.

    But still, would you want to the first person to discover you have left one of these in your player and it just happens to be a rogue one in the batch that has written off your player.

    As someone else has said, renting the film for a week is cheaper and buying them new isn't loads more anyway.

    The only place I can see these having any place in the market is for the Mission Impossible box set.
  • by ringo74 (970328)
    ... are the movie and music industries ran by a bunch of monkeys suffering from Alzheimer's disease? A three years old would immediately see all these new attempted business models of theirs as unbelievably idiotic ideas. How on Earth is it possible that somebody actually believes such crap could possibly work? This is beyond me. Please, if you are a CEO of a "content" production company, could you enlighten me, pretty please?
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:33AM (#23648689) Journal
    If you rent a DVD
    • You have a limitted time in which to view it.
    • You have to return it. Not everyone lives near a video rental store.
    • you will be charged if the disk gets damaged or lost.
    If you buy a self destructing DVD
    • You can buy it on spec and watch it some other time (these have a shelf life)
    • You just throw it out when you're done with it.
    • The maximum cost is the cost of a disposable DVD.
    The environmental damage isn't as big a problem as people seem to think. Much smaller than takeout, and probably less than the waste from a day's food for most people. That and they're recyclable.

    The main problem is making people realise that this is a rental and not a purchase. When they own the physical media they think they own it. Prices are also a little high, but they don't need a vast number of customers. Just enough movie fans for stores to justify the shelf space.
  • What about those hapless people who buy one of these things, take it home, and open the package, only to discover that their particular unit had a pinhole leak that let air in and ruined the disc prior to purchase. These people then have to get back in their car and drive back to the store for a refund (when fuel is typically $4 a gallon or more) Even if the store gives them a refund, they are still out the time and fuel money. You probably can't toss these things into your recycling container, so they will
    • by Gerzel (240421)
      They can't toss them into the recycling container. They are not standard plastic, and have to be sent back to the manufacturer to theoretically be recycled.
  • by BenBenBen (249969) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:40AM (#23648735)
    "FlexPlay"

    No flexibility, and after 48 hours no play!
  • Since we are supposed to put everything in airless plastic bag when we are not actually watching them, it would strongly delay the degradation. Anyway, I am reminded that true geeks only buy collector editions anyway.
  • DIVX vs DivX (Score:5, Informative)

    by WaXHeLL (452463) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @03:48AM (#23648753)
    DIVX is the crappy circuit city DVD rental program. DivX is the codec.

    Case matters.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by robogun (466062)
      I'm sick of hearing this shit. DiVX asked for this confusion when they decided to name their company knowing full well the failed DVD system used the same name. Newsflash: IT IS THE SAME NAME!

      Of course if capitalization mattered when registering domains, it opens up a lot of possibilities:

      Divx.com DIvx.com DIVx.com [taken]
      [taken] dIvx.com dIVx.com dIVX.com
      divX.com DivX.com DIvX.com divX.com
  • The entertainment ESPECIALLY the movie industry is out of touch with their base. While I think the TV and RIAA are idiot and are extremely out of touch with their base. At least the RIAA has come up with some half decent solutions (although stupid) like amazon mp3, rapshody/napster (unlimited), audible, etc. Although I think they are all stupid due to DRM and i dont use them anyways but at least are heading towards the digital age (not forcing people to use CDs).

    At the same time I think the TV industry is m
  • Get it right! (Score:2, Informative)

    You mean DIVX not DivX!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:00AM (#23648819)
    Given the quality of films today can they make them so they self destruct with bad movies "before" they are played? Could save a lot of pain and suffering especially with Uwe Boll movies.
  • by jafo (11982) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:09AM (#23648861) Homepage
    Ok, so I admit that my Roku box just arrived today, but it's just awesome. $9/month for the unlimited Internet watching. And then don't have to push around a bunch of plastic discs, keep discs in stock in case people want to watch them.

    Netflix is positioned to become the next "cable company" without having to lay all this cable. You can pick what you want, when you want it, pause it, skip around, and given 15 seconds or so it will spool up the data and play a perfectly reasonable picture. And with no commercials...

    I haven't had cable TV at home for the last decade, because it doesn't provide what I wanted. All I wanted recently was Heroes and Battlestar, but to get those two I had to buy 40 channels of other crap, including commercials.

    Or I could just wait for it to come out on DVD. Or lately a bunch of us have been gathering at a friends place for it.

    The installed base of DVD players is huge, but Netflix will already bring you the plastic disc, to your home, so it's only missing the ability to have an impulse buy the plastic disc.

    For the $100 box, you have the ability to get what you want without having to wait for the disc to arrive, don't have to return it, and can watch all you can stand.

    Netflix is poised to eat a lot of other folks lunch.

    Sean
  • DIVX died because it also required a special PLAYER...
    At least they got it right this time.

    Could work, might even make money if they have decent movies available.

    I can see these being sold at airports etc where returns aren't practical.
  • by Fallen Andy (795676) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:39AM (#23649261)
    is here [wikipedia.org]. But for the extremely lazy, here's a quick summary:

    - no DVD logo (may or may not play on real DVD players).

    - disc contains a dye which reacts with oxygen to discolour it (either to red or black).

    This is in the resin bonding layer between the two layers of a DVD-9. For DVD-5 it's in the surface coating.

    48 hours is the "alleged" time the disc will last before being unplayable. Since this is a chemical reaction expect that time to plummet dramatically in hot environments. So, how are they going to deal with the howls of indignation from customers who open the thing, decide they don't have time to play it today, and find they can't even play it once (assuming their DVD player doesn't bork on it)?

    ... and what about consumer protection laws e.g. "fitness for purpose" etc.

    Staples will back out of this one real fast...

    Andy

  • by GottliebPins (1113707) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:45AM (#23649301)
    Microsoft also uses a similar model. Their popular Windows product starts to deteriorate immediately after installation with all of the bloatware and is unusable within 48 hours.
  • by aplusjimages (939458) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:59AM (#23649807) Journal
    That's kind of steep. I can get $5 movies at the bargain bin at Best Buy, Wal-Mart, etc. Or I can rent a movie from Blockbuster for $4 and keep it for 2 weeks. Or I can use netflix and rent a bunch of movies for $10 a month, or I can download it from Xbox Live. There seems to be better alternatives to watch a movie.
  • I really hope someone sues the company responsible for putting all of these toxic chemicals into landfills.

    and yes, discs are made with toxic chemicals.

    This is just a horrible waste of resources. Especially when the content could be distributed in harmless electron format.
  • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @07:13AM (#23649953)

    Obviously, they must be running out of people to sue for downloading movies. This new technology is clearly designed to frustrate even more consumers, and drive them to download so they can keep their profit margin high with lawsuits.

    Fortunately (for me), there hasn't been a movie coming out of Hollywood in 20 years that I have the slightest interest in either wasting money on, or risking an infringement lawsuit for downloading.

  • $5 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Floritard (1058660) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @07:59AM (#23650407)
    So what they're really saying is that they can profitably manufacture, distribute, and sell DVD movies for the low price of $5, even after paying some company to add their technology to the disc which not only doesn't enhance the consumer experience, but seriously degrades it. So why do they charge $20 for the other discs again?

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