Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Movies Media

Limited-Use DVD Technology 643

ps_inkling writes: "Two companies are creating different techniques to make DVD discs unusable after a set period of time. SpectraDisc has a patent on a limited-play DVD technology; FlexPlay is currently developing limited play DVD technology. The SpectraDisc technique is to coat the DVD with a film, then wrap the DVD in an anaerobic package. The idea is to sell these 'play-once' DVD movies at a substantial discount to regular DVDs as a way to compete with pay-per-view or movie ticket outlets."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Limited-Use DVD Technology

Comments Filter:
  • A technology flops, and companies try to resurrect it nonetheless. Don't they remember Circuit City's Divx fiasco?
    • Difference (Score:5, Insightful)

      by emmons ( 94632 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:19AM (#2972707) Homepage
      The difference between Circuit City's fiasco and this is that divx required a special player which dialed an 800 number to see if you're eligible to play the disk. That part wasn't so horrible. The bad part is that CC wasn't making any money with it so they dropped it and screwed all the people who had paid extra for the specialized players.

      These new ideas are entirely different.. they rely on the disc itself to limit how many times you can play it. I, for one, wouldn't mind paying $1-2 for a DVD which allows me to watch a movie a couple times until the coating on the disk makes it unreadable. You only have to read it once to rip it. ;)
      • and screwed all the people who had paid extra for the specialized players.
        Um, didn't all those people get $100 back? (which was the usual price premium?)

        In any event, I doubt those who chose Beta over VHS got any sort of refund ...

      • I, for one, wouldn't mind paying $1-2 for a DVD which allows me to watch a movie a couple times until the coating on the disk makes it unreadable. You only have to read it once to rip it.
        Why wait for new technology? Just rent it.
    • I PREDICT ....

      i predict the movie rental stores will all be closed within 5 years.

      the profit model is good, but with the advent of widespread digital cable (and thus, very easy to access Pay-per-view), and with streaming media, tivo, and people's natural tendency to buy not rent ...

      attempts such as single use DVD just arent going to be able to carry a dying market.
  • New DivX?? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Axe ( 11122 )
    Do theny never learn? Sure, now they do not require you to connect ot the Big Brother, Co. to view it, but who will want this anyway? And how would they handle liability, if it does not play??
    • Re:New DivX?? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by helzerr ( 232770 )
      I don't see what the big difference is between paying Blockbuster $4.95 for a limited time rental and purchasing a limited life time disc for about the same $$$... Oh, except I have to return the disc to Blockbuster or face late fees. Why exactly is this so bad?

      Also, imagine a day when you can walk into the Blockbuster and instead of seeing miles and miles of movies taking up valueable space, you can pick out the movie you want from a kiosk, with access to more movies than you could squeeze into acres of Blockbusters, and a DVD-R burns it for ya with the time limited coating... That makes sense to me.
  • waste (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Krimsen ( 26685 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:08AM (#2972636) Homepage
    "creating more waste faster than ever imagined"

    I don't get it.
    • Re:waste (Score:2, Funny)

      by Hal-9001 ( 43188 )
      Welcome to Dubya's America?
      • Re:waste (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by cloudmaster ( 10662 )
        Yes. The president, wielding the awesome power of the "line-item veto" and other similar powers, has caused trash production to skyrocket in the last 14 months or so. Under a *democrat* president, we would have no trash, because we'd use every part of the buffalo to make teepees and hoof-pie.

        Or, people who say "blame dubya" are just stupid. :)
    • Re:waste (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tom Davies ( 64676 ) <> on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:16AM (#2972690) Homepage
      From FlexPlay's FAQ:
      It is interesting to note that a recent scientific study found that because Flexplay discs will eliminate unnecessary trips by car to video stores, they will actually result in a net benefit to the environment. The study, conducted by Jonathan Koomey, a noted environmental expert, concluded that if Flexplay discs constituted 10% of all rentals, the technology would save 50 million gallons of gasoline, eliminate 111,000 metric tons of carbon emissions, 700 tons of hydrocarbons, and 1,000 tons of nitrogen oxides every year. These emissions savings would be equivalent in their effects to removing 82,000 passenger car and light trucks from the road permanently.
      • Re:waste (Score:2, Insightful)

        so what if I walk to rent a film?
      • Re:waste (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dozing ( 111230 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:30AM (#2972759) Homepage
        Now here's a thought. If I rent the movie, but don't have to take it back to the store then I won't look at other titles while I'm returning this one. Hence, I won't be compelled to rent another on impulse. This acctually sounds like a poor marketing decision.
        • Re:waste (Score:5, Insightful)

          by damiangerous ( 218679 ) <> on Friday February 08, 2002 @10:01AM (#2973710)
          Hence, I won't be compelled to rent another on impulse.

          Of course you will. How did you get the first one? The idea is not to have specific stores for them anymore, but to make them ubiquitous. You'll see them every time you go grocery shopping, or to Wal-Mart, or even fill up your gas tank.
          • Re:waste (Score:3, Insightful)

            You do remember the videotape-rental fad of the mid-1980's, don't you? You could rent movies from just about anywhere -- video store, supermarket, drug store, even the convenience store on the corner.

            How many of those places still rent videos? Provably just your neighborhood Blockbuster.

            It costs a lot of money to:
            a) set aside retail space for movies
            b) keep the section stocked with the latest and most popular movies
            c) produce and distribute the media containing the movies

            You won't ever see these degradable discs next to the magazine rack at the local 7-11.
      • What would the volume of 10% of all DVDs rented in the U.S. be? I imagine it's probably quite a bit. In any case, the environmental argument doesn't apply for me because my apartment complex is across the street from a video store... :-p
        • Re:waste (Score:5, Insightful)

          by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @10:32AM (#2973867) Homepage
          According to the Blockbuster web site, the rent on average 1700 videos an hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They also have about 1/3 of their market. So, so total market size for video rentals is around 44.6 million videos a year.

          This figure is for total number of rentals, and might also include video games and non-video rental items but just for the sake of showing how off these figures are, let's just assume that this is only DVD rentals.

          So 10% of this figure would be about 4.4 million DVD rentals. That means that people use over 10 gallons of gas per video rental and 25 kg of carbon emissions! I think that 10 gals/video is quite funny since Blockbuster claims that there is a store within 10 miles of almost every metropolitan house.
      • Re:waste (Score:3, Funny)

        by Safety Cap ( 253500 )
        ...they will actually result in a net benefit to the environment.

        Kind of like how all those AOL DVDs are a net benefit to the environment, huh?

        It'll be a net benefit, alright, when no one buys it!

    • It requires polycarbonate to make CDs and DVDs. Polycarbonate that's generally not recyclable or biodegradable. If the disc self-destructs, it's landfill fodder- which means they're going to be choking up the world with nigh worthless plastic discs, using precious resources (the plastic, the materials to make the disc, etc.). All of this to make that precious pay per view they've been seeking all these years realistic and to do away with rentals (Realize that the media companies view rental companies as the enemy (except Viacom- they own one of the largest rental companies out there...) because they don't control the situation themselves. Rather than fostering their own rental company as Viacom did, they'd do this instead...)

      I guess they have to have that object less in, "greed destroys all..."
  • The other shoe... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ryanr ( 30917 ) <> on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:10AM (#2972647) Homepage Journal
    So, now we see why they were so keen to eliminate DVD copying software. If only they hadn't made DVD copying a complete and utter technical impossibility.
  • by mskfisher ( 22425 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:10AM (#2972649) Homepage Journal
    Will this technology fade once DVD-R comes into the mainstream?
  • by WildBill1941 ( 187641 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:10AM (#2972650) Homepage
    And it failed miserably. My uncle's got a DivX player that's near-useless. He should've got one that also played regular DVDs - but hey, he was an early adopter. I don't think limited-use discs or other media makes sense. People want to *own* the movies and music they buy. Otherwise, everyone would listen to the radio all the time, or get pay-per-view movies on their cable or satellite. But hey - what do I know? I'm just an American Consumer - I vote with my dollar. And my dollar won't be buying a use-once disc. Unless you can rip it to DivX;-).
    • by Malcontent ( 40834 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:29AM (#2972750)
      "I vote with my dollar. And my dollar won't be buying a use-once disc."

      You seem to be under the mpression that this technology is aimed at consumers. It's not. It's aimed at publishers. You will not have a choice of paying one dollar for a one-use disc and 10 dollars for a unlimited use disc. You will only have the choice of paying 10 dollars for a one-use disc.
    • So rip a DivX to DivX ;-)? My brain hurts.
      • So rip a DivX to DivX ;-)? My brain hurts.

        Somewhat OT, but has to be pointed out; this would be useless. Divx discs implemented a 3DES encryption scheme to prevent playing on 'normal' DVD players. A dedicated chip in the player handled decryption. This also allowed Circuit Shitty to maintain the PPV scheme, since the PPV discs couldn't be played on non-Divx players.

        Since the Divx system is dead, the discs are useless. The players can still play normal DVDs, but any Divx discs are now coasters, or trash fodder.
  • Nitrogen (Score:4, Funny)

    by 1/137 ( 179946 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:11AM (#2972652)

    Wouldn't that make Nitrogen gas illegal under the DMCA as a circumvention?

    • Wouldn't that make Nitrogen gas illegal under the DMCA as a circumvention [device]?
      What are they going to do, hold me in contempt for breathing? Arrest me for being under the influence of N2? (For those who don't know, the atmosphere is roughly 70% nitrogen)

      P.S. Love the handle...too bad most /.ers don't know much about physics...
  • by SamMichaels ( 213605 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:11AM (#2972659)
    Once is all I need to copy it :)
    • by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:48AM (#2972826) Journal
      An introduction of this technology will almost certainly increase DVD piracy, as people will see an opportunity to get a full movie cheap. FlexPlay, at least, claims their discs will work in all DVD drives, including DVD-ROMs. The market for DVD burners, currently technophile and media professional toys, may witness a small upsurge in demand, and ripping tools will become popular as the damn-copyright set notes the obvious ways around the time limit - make copies of the discs.

      There's no way this can come to any good. Abort mission.
      • How is this different from renting from blockbuster and copying it?
        • by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @03:51AM (#2972930) Journal
          How is this different from renting from blockbuster and copying it?

          Not much, on the surface. The first difference is that with the Blockbuster rental model, you know you can always go back and rent the disc again if you want to watch it at some later time, but don't want to completely buy it. To some people who skirt the edge between respecting the existing rules and breaking copyright, this can be a deciding factor. Admittedly, this would be a very small set of people, but why go through the hassle of copying a disc you can just rent again?

          The FlexPlay/SpectraDisc systems remove this possibility. Part of what the backers of Divx envisioned was selling the discs in grocery stores and other non-rental outlets for impulse buyers. I think this is what Flex/Spectra are trying to do, so it's not as if you can return the disc once you're done with it. There was also a well-founded concern that certain studios, namely Disney, intended to release certain movies exclusively on Divx, preventing ownership and ensuring a permanent revenue stream. Should a movie get the permanent-rental-window treatment, there would almost certainly be a demand for copies that don't die after three days.

          My point about burning may be nullfied by reality. One issue with consumer DVD burning technology is the single-layer nature of the formats; you can burn a single layer with a maximum capacity of either 4.7 or 3.95 GB, and that's about it. Many movies require two layers to fit. This holds for the rewritable specifications, AFAIK. Professional pressing machines are mad expensive, probably not even for the determined small-time pirate.

          Of course, a mass influx of limited-use DVDs may create a push for a consumer-level writer that can produce multiple layers, though I don't think a writer that can fit in a computer case, or even a small room, is feasible on the consumer or prosumer level right now.
    • Exactly. For those of us with the kit to copy this is great, but we are not the target.

      Blockbuster want these more than life itself. They can finally forget about dealing with returns - and always have inventory as they don't have to play the averages game. Just order a stack of disks and send them out.

      It IS wasteful, not only do we have 20 CDs falling out of every computer mag we buy - we'll have a DVD to bin every time we 'hire' a movie.

      This has to be weighed against the real waste of returning to the shop with the watched tape, all the time and effort involved in dealing with the returns process etc... Its still a bigger waste, but probably not by much.

      The masses (and I dont mean that in a condescending manner) will love this.

      "you mean I don't have to go back to the shop with the disk!! bingo!"

      This technology is actually coming on line slower than I expected. Give the consumer what he wants. He wants movies to watch once, cheaply, when he wants it, with minimal hassle. This is a better option currently than movie on demand over a bit of wire.

      Another benefit is that Blockbuser after Blockbuser will close as people get used to ordering films like pizzas. I can run to three video shops while holding my breath from my front door - bet thats down to 1 within a year of this hitting the street.

      Maybe they'll fill those empty shops with coffee shops []! ;-)
      • by FastT ( 229526 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @04:18AM (#2972983) Homepage Journal
        Blockbuster want these more than life itself.
        Wrong. Late fees, which frequently cost more than the original rental, are a major revenue stream for Blockbuster and other movie rental companies. They don't have any incentive to back this sort of technology.
        • Wrong. Late fees, which frequently cost more than the original rental, are a major revenue stream for Blockbuster and other movie rental companies. They don't have any incentive to back this sort of technology.

          There is another point about this, by having to return stuff to the shop I'll bet they get a reasonable number of additional rentals from impulse decisions while returning itemsf.. At least for those who do it during opening hours.

          On the other hand, if returns stop they can reduce staff counts, this may seve them more money than they loose..

          But they still have ways to get additional revenue streams to partially replace these. How about an environmental charge, similar to a deposit on glass bottles (common here in Europe). You pay extra 'up front' for the disk, but if you bring it back this gets refunded (CD's etc have a very small recyclable content/value, but since when have people in the entertainment biz. let the facts get in the way of profit?). This way they get extra money from the lazy and drag you back into the shop too..

          Meybe I ought to patent this as a business model?
  • Bad (Score:4, Funny)

    by oregon ( 554165 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:11AM (#2972662) Homepage
    The next thing you know, they'll be trying to sell us eat-once popcorn to go with our play-once dvd
  • by sgtron ( 35704 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:14AM (#2972677)
    How about DVDs that disintegrate after a period of time? Maybe after subjected to the heat of a DVD player or something. Then you have no waste. Like those packing peanuts made of starch. They disolve in water so you don't have to worry about styrofoam waste from packing material anymore.
  • Imagine the uses for it.

    In the every box of cheerios you get a copy of the Powerrangers movie that you can play 3 times before you have to buy another box.

    This would enable cheap short life DvD's to be given away to people. Perhaps a movie mag could put on it all the new previews they had at such a small cost. As much as i dont like the idea there are many uses for this technology.

    Also I could see some of those online places that will let you rent DvD's over the net use such a thing. They send it out and you get to watch it twice or three times and they save money buy not having to worry about postage. I kinda hope this works and kinda don't due to it could become the standard and evuantally you wont be able to buy movies anymore but be forced to rent them.

    So the point of my comment is this. Any technology when used can be either good or bad. This has the future of both. I imagine both uses would get used out of it.
  • by kmactane ( 18359 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:16AM (#2972691) Homepage

    If I just wanted to watch a movie once, I'd rent it from my local Blockbuster or similar video store. Those places carry DVDs now.

    But if I buy a product, I damn well want to use it more than once! (Well, a data-carrying product, anyway. Food is a different story...)

    I'm sure they could have tried to make VHS tapes, audio cassettes, and so on, that would only play once. Nobody was fool enough to try it until now.

    I predict this thing will crash and burn at least as badly as DivX did.

  • So if you put those discs in a vacuum, you'd be able to store them almost indefinately? It's fairly easy to make a box for these discs and pump all the air out of it.

    Alternatively, there's probably a way to chemically treat the "special coating" so that it doesn't oxidize.

    Of course, you could also just rip the DVD's to your hard drive and convert them to DivX ;-) or record them to DVD-R once the discs are cheaper.

    Hard drives are still the only commonly available technology that doesn't require you to have big piles of stuff (discs, tapes) around.

  • This, if implemented, would be a great reason to legalize DVD backup solutions. Right now, the DVD is virtually not wearing out. But if it does, the consumer can argue all kinds of standard consumer protection arguments in favor of his right to watch the DVD *as the content is licensed*, like once, but to use the content when he is ready. It will be tough defense for the DVD people because there will be very legitimate reason to back it up.
  • Ahh yes, another piece of junk for us to accumulate. I think I'll shelve the used discs on my bookcase, next to the handbook on "How to reduce clutter".

    Wouldn't it be nice for a change if our culture moved away from selling to people as much junk as they can buy? Disposable diapers, disposable cameras, disposable cellphones, etc. I find that many people lead just as disposable lives, unfortunately -- with the quality of life getting emptier as people get richer.

    Yes, yes, I know that all marketing is about making people want something they didn't know they needed before. Just because we're accustomed to it doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. I look forward to the day when we can overcome our material desires, the need to one-up our neighbors, and express our achievement through spending money.

    Maybe science, freedom of information, and education will get us there someday. I hope.
    • Why do people stupidly bring up the disposable camera and cell phone thing as waste? What part of recycle don't you fucking understand? You don't take pictures with a disposable camera and then throw it out. The camera chassis gets sent back to the manufacturer to be repackaged and resold. Same with those limited use cell phones. You're supposed to either buy more minutes on the phone (for a lower price than the cost of a new phone) or sned it someplace that is going to send it back to the manufacturer for reprogramming. Disposable diapers are pretty crappy (funny huh) but if you've got such a problem get a job with a diaper cleaning service. I hope you enjoy it.
  • by spotter ( 5662 )
    assuming that these will be normal DVDs except that they will "degrade" somehow that will prevent people from watching them, I would think this would make it even easier for people to rip the DVDs, as their "1 time use" could be spent ripping the DVD to their hard disk.

    not really sure what this gains the studios.
  • Screw being bad for the consumers. These ideas are bad for the environment. You rent a VHS and you return it so it can be rented another 50 times. Think how many of these there would be even if it were to flop. That's way to much plastic in the land fills for the next 10,000 years for this green guy.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:29AM (#2972753) Homepage
    Next question: if somebody develops a way to preserve these disks, will that be illegal?

    I suspect this is a non-starter of an idea. Polaroid developed a comparable technology for VHS caisettes in the 1980s, using a mechanical ratchet in the cartridge to limit the number of plays. That went nowhere.

  • Okay, the idea of DVDs that degrade over time is honestly sorta interesting and cool. Can't imagine what it might look like when it's half way gone?

    Now what's wrong with this idea?

    Well they (presumably) ADD coatings and materials to get this effect, and yet they want to charge less and give you less.

    Maybe the copyright holders will give them a break in pricing to make up for the added cost of coatings, but it's not clear that they would want to. Even if that happens they would have to price competitively with DVD rentals to make any sense and there isn't a lot of margin in that business (for the renter). And, the throw-away DVD providers would have the extra cost of continuously replacing inventory.

    So they probably have higher costs than competing rental places so to make up for it they would need to deal in higher volume. Maybe it's just me but I actually enjoy walking around Blockbuster and seeing what's new and popular and reading the boxes, etc. More than likely the degrading DVD idea will flop. It just isn't a good idea to enter into an entrenched market unless you have a clearly superior product, and for my thoughts this is an inferior one.

    P.S. I can't help but wonder how long you might keep the disks alive if you put them under vacuum between uses...
  • Moderate paranoia (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Forager ( 144256 )
    I'm assuming that this "film coating" is the same tech we heard about a while back that causes the DVD disc to corrode into uselessness shortly after the film is exposed to reader light ...

    Is anyone else worried that this film might "rub off" onto your DVD tray, and get onto one of your other discs afterward? I'd certainly be pissed to discover that the rental DVD I purchased destroyed the discs I already own... I don't think there's a conspiracy here, but I don't think this film is a good thing, either.

    To be honest, if I want to rent a DVD, I go to blockbuster, or Hollywood Video if there's one near by. It's cheap, it's pretty painless, and there's no risk of the disc destroying my setup

    One thing that is VERY nice about DVD rentals is that you can watch the movie one year or eight years after the video store acquired it, and -- provided the disc is readable -- you get the same experience ... digitally identical playback, every time, unlike VHS, which corroded and is useless after a few years.

  • by Xpilot ( 117961 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:35AM (#2972783) Homepage
    ... on Mission Impossible. Jim sticks in those shiny discs in and it self destructs after it plays once...

  • getting shat on even more...
    • That was my first thought, too. The last thing we need is to take something that's currently distributed electronically and distribute it on truckloads of instant trash instead.

      Talk about your giant step backward.

  • At a time when cities are striving for a 50 or 75 percent reduction in waste going to landfills it is downright disgusting to be engineering throw-away technology. We have enough AOL CDs occupying our landfills. We don't need DVDs there too, especially when the consumer doesn't even want limited-use tech.

    I bet within 5 years there is a special "waste tax" on every unit manufacturered (sorta like tax on soda cans) because we know the items will end up in the landfill.
  • If the disk is rendered unreadable by a reaction involving oxegen, all that is needed to keep the DVD's from going bad is to store them in an oxygen free environment. After you open the packaging, watch the DVD, then place it in an airtight package with some yeast and water (the activated yeast will consume the oxygen in the container) and the disk should still be playable at a later time providing the new packaging is airtight, and you consume all the oxygen.

    Of course the other obvious way to get around this is to rip the contents and burn your own.
  • First off, I just wonder how they're going to make this all enviro-safe, considering that they're talking about a disposable commodity. With all the films and coatings, you have to hope these things can be recycled.

    Second, it just doesn't strike me that a disc couldn't simply be 'fixed'. *spritz spritz*, a few blasts of a nice clear heat-resistant coating and you've got a sealed item that'd still fit in the tolerances of a DVD drive. I bet it only takes a few days, if these things actually make it to market, before someone discovers what can of stuff to buy to make instant-preservations.
  • Y'know, for all the shortcomings of Divx (special players, mounting costs, VHS-Beta-style format war, deceptive advertising, being unable to share discs, etc), it had one thing over both of these harebrained schemes.


    You could purchase additional viewing windows, and you would be a sent a bill by HQ each month. Pay-per-view DVDS - it's as dumb as it sounds, especially since many of the discs had no special features, were pan-n-scan, and basically had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. At least you could replay your own discs.

    These dumbshit ideas... 3 days, and they're in the trash, never to be viewed again. The wrapping and case/sleeve also go in the trash. FlexPlay presents a claim that 100 million DVDs can fit into a 10m^3 block. It's still additional waste, of landfill space, of packaging, and of the resources and energy that went into producing a DVD that craps itself after 3 days. It's not as if you can return the flick for someone else to enjoy - the disc is WASTED. Perfect for the disposable society, but I thought we were trying to move away from that?

    As for the "save the environment by driving your car less" claim attached to this... build cleaner cars before looking for excuses to keep the current ones.
  • normally I'm not a environment type of guy but the same thought occured to me when divx came out as now. theres going to be a huge amount of waste from this. is it really neccesary to make a big landfill of non-useable discs just so Blockbuster can compete with PPV?

    sigh. my brain hurts from corporate stupidity.

  • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @02:48AM (#2972824)
    I'm not sure if there are any official numbers attesting to this, but the few people I know of that actually spend money on pay-per-view (and I do mean "few," since it tends to cost more than a 3- or 5-day VHS rental) videotape the PPV broadcast.

    All I can see this doing is either removing the middleman between the movie company and the "unauthorized" copiers or flopping on its face when these kinds of people run into copy protection.
  • by DRACO- ( 175113 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @03:16AM (#2972891) Homepage Journal
    A play once dvd priced at $5.88 or just a buck would severely break a store. Customers wont know the difference from the play once dvd's or the standard dvds. They will see that cheap price for say, Fast and the furious and nab it before someone else does. Then when they get home the kids will spark up the dvd player while mom is in the kitchen cooking. Mom calls the kids for dinner and the kids stop the dvd player and have dinner. The family retires back to the living room and starts the dvd from the beginning only to find mom is not going to see any of it because the dvd has alredy burned off it's boot sector.

    You will turn up with upset customers, fast.

    I work at a walmart in the nortwest houston area. I can vouch for the fact that customers are not very quick at understanding things much less take the time to read anything. All they see is a Price, and an object they want. A while back we were stocking Jarassic part 3 in dvd. One full screen, one wide screen. Most customers dont have a clue there a difference and have a problem with the wide screen letter box format. Most of them come back and ask about full screen. They didnt see a little sliver of text at the bottom of the dvd that said wide screen.

    Customers arent very bright when they come in stores. They will plow through water on the floor, spilled legos, anything. They never see signs higher than 6 foot, (never can find the 2 signs in the store both with 3 ft letters saying restrooms).

    Customers seem to check their brains at the door and dont understand what Out of stock means and ask, "well, what does that mean?" Out of stock means out of stock, there is not a magic hat we can pull a 19 inch tv out of and if you ask me again Im going to scream!

    These things are going to be bad stuff. Just think, they might write games to these discs. Then we will have a war on our hands.

  • Not a bad idea. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by acet ( 159342 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @03:29AM (#2972895) Homepage
    You know, not simply to be controversial, but I don't understand the big problem a lot of people here seem to have with this idea. People are comparing this to DivX (evil). This is *not* DivX, not even close. DivX required special hardware. DivX required that the user give over their credit card info and hook the player up to a phone line. DivX required the user to live with the fact that someone, somewhere, was recording everything they watched on their DivX player. This is not DivX.

    What this is, however, is a pretty revolutionary idea for the world of video rental and I'm suprised more people aren't seeing this. This, if successful, has the full potential to completely change the way people rent movies. Suddenly, with this technology, any retail outlet has the full fredom of becoming a video-rental store, without any of the additional overhead involved of tracking discs, late returns, lost/damaged media, collection agencies, etc. Instead, any convenience store owner can go down to Costco and pick up a box of movies, rip open the top, and set the box on the counter next to the cheap lighters, beef jerky, and plastic roses. Consider that. How do you think this is going to affect rental chains like Blockbuster if every grocery store stocks the latest movie releases in the impulse-buy section of checkout lines, between the tabloids and the candy bars? It won't completely kill video rental stores, to be sure, because there still needs to be a place to non new-release movies, but it will take a chunk of their pie.

    Additionally, this promises to change the whole distribution method for existing video rental stores. Previously, when a new movie was about to be released, discs and vhs tapes would go on the market to rental outlets for an extreme price of like $80 a pop, and this is how the publishers would make a good chunk of money off of the rental market. Only after the rental outlets have had a chance to get the latest-greatest movies, would they go on the market to the general consumer at a more normal price. This technology allows publishers to do away with that step, and release new movies to rental and consumer markets simultaneously. Of course, how many people are going to go to a video rental store to rent the latest and greatest when they can get it in the checkout line of "Safeway" remains to be seen. But the argument remains that, on the distribution side for movie rentals, this technology would simplify things immensly.

    Some people point out that with this technology, you could by the disc, take it home, and rip it to make a copy. Sure, but couldn't you do that already with rental discs from a video store? Nothing has changed there. There are no new copyprotection mechanisms introduced with this tech. All the same all circumventable copy protection techniques still apply. If you want to pirate, you still have just as many options as you had before. In fact, this tech gives you a new one cause, unlike with traditional rental media, shop owerns aren't going to be so paranoid about people shoplifing movies.

    The one significant concern that I've heard and I completely agree with is the environmental issue. Yes, this further advances the disposable society by giving us one more thing to clog our landfills with. Is it a huge issue? I don't think so. We throw more material away when we toss out an empty full sized bag of doritos. However, there is a certain "save gas/polution cause people don't have to take it back to the store" factor.. tho I'm not sure how much I'd trust the little environmentalist's report on how significant a savings that would be.

    Anyways, I could go on but this is long enough. In short, this isn't the next frontier of evil in the media universe. It might even be useful.
  • This just can't compete with pay-per-view.. I'm sorry.. The reason that people get pay-per-view is to record it. I don't know anyone that pays the $8 or whatever a ppv movie is that doesn't record it.

    No one is going to buy a proprietary dvd that they can only play a few times when they can ppv the movie and record it and watch it infinate times.

    Its a status thing.. people like to physically own a movie whether they bought it or copied it off ppv is irrelevant, the very idea that they can stockpile cassettes and then watch any movie they've already seen on a whim is appealing to people.
  • Inevitably this will be compared to the failed divx producted produced by circit city a few years back. (Neglecting the stupid proprietary player you had to buy) The main reason that divx failed, was not because of a consumor lack of interest, but instead because of the lack of industry support. The industry did not want to get behind a product that could be re-activated. It was their view that this product was just like a full version of the film. They realized full well (for once) that they were putting a product out there that would be cracked. With cracked divx floating around, everyone could have cheap movies. Who wouldn't want a $3.99 movie title.

    The reason Limited-Use DVD's might succeed is this: if the companies involved can actually get these stupid things to distruct then the industry will back them. These companies work to make money by taking advantage of the consumer, and with little risk of the consumer pulling one over on the industry, the product is viable for them.

    Also if this technology works it can be deployed immediately, there is no modifications that need to happen to your exsisting dvd players.

    And for those that don't get out much, go to your local Blockbuster, notice anything? Way more dvd's now then ever before, why? More players, and this is the technology that the industry wants us to use.

    I'm just happy I got my dvd player that plays all regions and allows me to turn off copy protection (to vhs). :-)
  • by gessleX ( 454570 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @03:46AM (#2972926) Homepage

    The United States, a disposable nation. We build our lives around the convenience of Dixie cups, Saran Wrap, dime store paper plates, a Ziploc bags.

    Now, disposable movies. Like we needed one more thing for the landfill?

    CSS encryption + these two companies = more AOL cds

    Waste products.

    As Nancy Reagan was once said, "Just Say No!" :)

  • by singularity ( 2031 ) <> on Friday February 08, 2002 @03:57AM (#2972944) Homepage Journal
    The best comparison to this technology is renting a DVD from your local Blockbuster. While I am not a big fan of Blockbuster, per se, I see absolutely *NO* advantages of this technology over renting at Blockbuster.

    At Blockbuster, I walk in, give my $4, and walk home with any movie on DVD. I can watch this movie any number of times in a certain time period. With these discs, I walk into Blockbuster, put down my $4, and walk out with a movie on DVD that I can watch any number of times in a certain amount of time.

    Why, then, would anyone get one of these?

    Well, I suppose you do not have to return these new movies, but is that a big enough incentive?

    If you charge $3.99 for one of these movies, I assume that Blockbuster is going to walk away with $2 per disk. That is a 100% return. On the other hand, if Blockbuster buys a new DVD for $20 and rents it 15 times at $4/rent, that is Blockbuster walking away with a 300% return on the investment.

    On top of that, Blockbuster still has the movie! They can continue to rent it out, or sell it as a previewed move for $10, making even more.

    No, this makes no sense for consumers or for the rental people.
    • by Rain ( 5189 ) <> on Friday February 08, 2002 @04:45AM (#2973038) Homepage
      While I think your comparison is ultimately correct, it costs a lot more than $20 for Blockbuster to get the movie, thanks to the wonderful people at the MPAA. If you read the copyright notice at the beginning of practically every DVD/VHS, I'm nearly positive that it forbids you from renting out a regularly priced copy. Instead, Blockbuster et al. have to buy a very price-inflated (I don't know how much, exactly, but I believe it to be >$100) copy of the DVD to be able to legally rent it out to customers.

      Because of the high cost, the read-limited CDs may interest the smaller rental chains: it may be more profitable, and certainly more profitable in the short run, to sell the defective DVDs.

      Of course, I really doubt this will get far. We all know the legacy of DivX [] (which is a better comparison than nothing), and judging by how people react when told about the DMCA and friends in plain terms, the MPAA and RIAA are already getting away with a lot more than J. Random Consumer would like. If they aren't sneaky about it (and I don't know how they could be here), I doubt people are going to go for it.
      • Actually, no, this is not correct.

        DVD and VHS are different in the respects of licensing. With VHS, Blockbuster made a deal with many of the studios to give them a portion of rentals (I do believe, though, that late fees and previously viewed purchases are not included) and a guarantee on titles that are anticipated to be high rentals but low sales that they'll be priced for rental chains only. That is why you see some video, still today, as $100 titles when they first arrive, instead of the $20-$30 they are in places like Best Buy.

        However, such deals do not exist with DVDs. Movie studios do not get a portion of rental fees, so there's no incentive for them to market any for rental chains first. What's the purpose to pricing them at $100 on release if the video stores will keep all the funds, instead of sharing the loot like VHS?

        Plus, I still haven't seen a case precedence where renting a physical media such as VHS or DVD was illegal when there was no license purchased to rent them. Isn't there a case precedence already for software companies suing the public library system in the US for lending out software for free?
      • Sorry, but you're wrong.

        VHS has rental pricing and regular pricing, with the rental version being released earlier, and actually being made of higher quality tape. DVD only has one pricing model, so Blockbuster gets those DVDs for whatever the wholesale price is for each disc.

    • On the other hand, if Blockbuster buys a new DVD for $20 and rents it 15 times at $4/rent, that is Blockbuster walking away with a 300% return on the investment.

      For new movies, Blockbuster are more likely paying $120-200 per disc. I remember trying to order a movie that hadn't quite been released on video to buy yet (can't remember which one) and the people in tBlockbuster said I could have it if I paid the 'rental store' price for it, which was about £80 at the time! They only drop the price once they've advertised a consumer release for purchase.
  • Evening news:
    Today an undeground nail polish producer was arrested for making illegal substance to protect limited-play discs from limiting the play. Ever since limited play discs were adopted by movie studios all legal make-up companies stopped manufacturing of clear nail polish, as a thin layer of it, applied to the surface of the disc, prevents it from expiring. Last week authorities confiscated 20 gallon clean nail polish liquid from illegal alien, trying to smuggle it in through Mexican border, and today an undeground lab got busted.

    In Entertainment news: Britney Spears new video release "My Smashing Songs" on limited play dvds have to be unlocked first by bathing th disc in diet pepsi. Dr. Pepper claims it can also be washed in diet Dr. Pepper, though quality of playback is not guaranteed...

    p.s. as usual -- everything above is made up :)
  • Tiny margins (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Squirrel Killer ( 23450 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @04:14AM (#2972974)
    With some DVD's breaking $7 at Best Buy, they're going to have to go pretty far below that to entice customers. ("Why should I watch once for $4, when I can buy it for $7?") That means tiny margins and shaky business models, not as bad as the .coms that had negative margins, but still not very enticing for the investors either.

    Yeah, yeah, that $7 is for the Cindy Crawford vehicle Fair Game [], but maybe good DVD's will drop in price like that, and at least you didn't pay to see it in the theatre.


  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @04:28AM (#2972994)
    Yet another reason Star Trek will never become a reality.

    I don't know about anybody else, but when I signed up for the "Future" and this digital revolution, it was partly so that all non-physical art; literature, music and film, would be publicly accessible, for free, from a discreet and tastefully designed computer consul. --Preferably on a spacious and graceful starship.

    The entire Star Trek universe was/is a weird Freudian hallucination wherein all the races are rarified aspects of our current selves.

    This idea of taking something purely digital, something which is reproducible with no threat of waste or effort, and tying it to a wasteful, laborious and greedy method of storage and distribution is so bloody Ferengi, it makes me retch.

    The flowers of humanity are not shared openly, but dangled like carrots in an infantile effort to 'get something'. How ugly and foolish!

    We're a bunch of silly hobbits, squabbling over Bilbo's estate gifts, getting the name tags lost and digging holes in his basement.

    Hooray for us.

    I can't wait to start ripping off the media giants and distributing their crap for free to anybody who asks. Too bad most of it is unwatchable. --Though I suppose it'll make stealing it less time consuming in that I won't actually have to view any of it. . .

    -Fantastic Lad

  • disclaimer: I haven't thought this through at all - it's off-the-top-of-my-head stuff. It might be really evil. It might be insecure. It isn't, however, offtopic, IMHO.

    I return approximately 25% of my video store rentals on time. Despite being exactly their target demographic, I don't want to buy more plastic crap to throw away.

    Why not work towards using DVDRW in stores? I haven't heard of DVDRW existing yet (maybe it does, I don't follow the news) but bear with me.

    Use Case
    1. Customer steps into store, picks "The Matrix" off the shelf.
    2. Customer walks to counter. Pays money. Hands over the disc they rented last time (maybe yesterday, maybe six months ago)
    3. Shop gives customer another DVDRW pre-loaded with "The Matrix", which they burnt a few days before when their cache was low. If customer had picked something obscure, they might need to wait a few minutes for a copy to be made up on the spot from a store master - ordering ahead will avoid this.
    4. Customer leaves, views movie, returns disc to store when they want either another rental, or the deposit they paid for the disc back.

    Piracy concerns
    Sure, it means potentially lots of copies of media floating about, but that's what we have now with video libraries - except the video store pays up front for it. People can still duplicate VHS tapes at home etc. so there's no new piracy introduced.

    People still need to bring their "DVD Rental Barn" disc back to rent another movie - or they pay extra deposit on a new disc - ie. not economical if deposit > price of a blank.

    Movie distibutors issue special "one rental shop only" master copies of their DVD movies, in some encrypted format. These master copies can be decrypted and duplicated by software that uses a CD Key (Half-Life, Quake3 etc) type of system to identify the video store. The CD-Key is linked server-side with the unique "one rental shop only" algorithm/seed issued to the rental store.

    If EITHER the shop's master copies get ripped off physically or duplicated electronically, or if the software/CD-Key is duplicated, then decryption/duplication won't happen because the server-side check will fail.

    If the "store master copy" encryption is cracked, then the store's library becomes pirateable. See reason why this doesn't matter above.

    If both the "store master copy" entire library AND the CD-Key/software are stolen, the store claims on their insurance policy, then gets a re-issue of its entire catalogue. It is in the interests of a video store not to give media away - and video store employees to keep their jobs.

    Privacy concerns
    Customer data is not included in the information sent to the authentication server - it sits outside the duplication box altogether, preferably - and stays in the store. Of course, places like Blockbuster might want to offer discounts (laugh!) for opt-in profile tracking, etc. Wary consumers can cash in their old disc for a refunded deposit and sign up for a new one every time, if they're that way inclined, but I don't know anyone who does this with rental libraries now... perhaps priests who rent a bit of pr0n? but I digress.

    What's in it for the Movie Industry

    Perfect market statistics through the server-client authentication mechanism.

    Lower overheads for disc manufacture.

    Mega bucks because they can indirectly charge consumers, through billing rental stores based on volume per DVD - right now, they get nothing when you rent "Life of Brian" because the copy was paid for a decade ago by the video store.

    How could it happen?
    Once the technology is available to make DVDRW cost-effective, it could be piloted in existing stores. If it seems to work, it could expand from there, with perhaps a gradual (five year) shift to the new model, at a pace consumers drive themselves.

    It doesn't even require commitment from all the major corporations at once - only for one to trial it, then another, and another, until they all get the idea.

    Remember - I'm not trying to fix piracy, only late video rental return fines. This idea is licenced under the "take it, change it, do what you want and become a billionaire" boiling_point_ public licence.

  • I can see this, I start a movie, then I get a phone call from a friend or family member so I stop the disk, maybe go out to dinner with some friends. A few hours latter when I go to restart the disk it's destroyed. If it truely is play ONCE then they can't expect it to last more then a few hours...

    Oh and I won't even start on the hassle of returning a damaged DVD where the package was cracked and air snuck in.

    Now if it lasted a few days, like a rental does, then it might be worth the convinence of not having to return it, and it would be great to never have to go back to blockbuster again with a disc the previous renter had managed to scratch beyond usefullness. But truthfully I will go one renting and buying standard DVDs, and if like some people have mentioned they take that option away... then I'll just start using wares copies, not because I am cheap and don't want to pay... but because they offer what I want.
  • by rlp ( 11898 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @06:17AM (#2973194)
    How 'bout a copy of Battlefield Earth [] that self-destructed before you watched it. I'd pay some bucks for that ...
  • Honestly... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PhotoGuy ( 189467 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @07:37AM (#2973313) Homepage
    Man, far more than the usual number of knee-jerk reactions, this time :-)

    First of all, didn't Divx require you to buy a special Divx player? That's a big difference, investing in a new technology that *only* supports limited use.

    Second, regarding the waste factor: have you ever been to McDonald's? Or any fast food place? The amount of trash one gets is huge as compared to a single disc. (And the disc seems to start biodegrading anyway, the minute you open it :-) Have you ever subscribed to MSDN? You end up throwing out dozens of CD's a month (or a DVD or two a month now). And I've certainly created many times more coasters than the number of movies I've watched in my life.

    I'm not saying more waste is good, just that in perspective, this isn't a huge factor.

    This needs to be compared to rentals, not purchase. I've spent more money on Blockbuster's annoying but smart (for them) return policy; midnight the next day. It lulls you into a sense that if you don't get around to it tonight, you can watch it tomorrow, and return it before midnight; tomorrow night comes, you watch the movie, and are too tired to return it (I always :-). They spent a lot of time coming up with that policy. So I end up paying late fees on top of the not-so-cheap rental. I personally find returns horribly inconvenient. And the rental companies no doubt find them extra labour to process.

    The rental places could also have a better rate at movie availability. I would guess that they could predict the total number of rentals more easily than the daily rates. So they stock up, and you can be assurred the movie will be in. In fact, the day the movie is released, you stand a *greater* chance of being able to get it. That's when people most want it, too. That kind of works out well.

    The main disadvantages I see are 1) storage space required in the store will be greater; 2) there will be less older run movies available, since they don't stick around. If this takes off, six months after release, it may be very hard to get a copy of a movie. And, as mentioned, there will be some waste, although that can be played off a bit against gas, pollution, and labour in handling returns.

    I wonder if they could make them taste like chocoloate or nachos? $2 or $4 for a rental, that would be a nice tasty snack afterwards would be very cool, and avoid the waste problem, too (well, at least modify the waste problem to an organic one :-) There'd also be something symbolic in becoming one with a movie you really liked, and even one that sucked and deserves no better fate than being eaten :-)

  • by danielrendall ( 521737 ) on Friday February 08, 2002 @08:48AM (#2973462) Homepage Journal
    Surely this is an obvious replacement for Windows product activation? Just sell XP on a CD which will survive long enough for you to install it once...
  • by LetterJ ( 3524 ) <> on Friday February 08, 2002 @09:29AM (#2973563) Homepage
    I read an article in the paper this week that pointed out that Warner Bros Studio is irritating many other studios with their pricing strategy. WB wants regular DVD's to become impulse items like magazines and priced accordingly. They are already pricing new titles at $15US and many at $10US. If WB keeps up this strategy, it'll be pretty hard to sell a one-view DVD for $2US when many full DVD's are only running $5-7US.

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!