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DVD: Degradable Versatile... 246

jomaree writes "The SMH online reports that some DVDs are starting to corrode or "rot". Although somewhere between 1 and 10 per cent of DVDs are affected, it seems the distributors don't want to know. One list of affected movie titles reveals what might be a sinister pattern emerging: "One DVD website lists 18 titles known to have at least one bad batch, among them Planet of the Apes (1968), Men in Black: Collectors Edition, Independence Day and the Alien Legacy box set." Or maybe the person compiling the list only buys sci-fi movies."
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DVD: Degradable Versatile...

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  • by Agent Green ( 231202 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:40AM (#5202698)
    After all, isn't making a backup somewhat illegal under the DMCA??

    Man...I can't wait for another round of forced upgrades...or replacements in this case!

    Woohoo! I'm glad to be a consumer!!
    • I'm glad that I disregard the law and make backups anyway. I have countless cd's that I would have had to replace if not for backups to my hdd and now that I've ripped my dvd collection I'm sure it'll save me a lot of bucks on replacements also. Keep my disks duplicated so that a hdd dying won't harm things and I'm pretty much set. Just keep adding/replacing hdd's as needed.

      I've considered opening a movie rental store. If otherwise good discs suffered this kind of problem I'd be tempted just to burn off a new copy and keep the original as proof of ownership. I'd like to see them take me to court for that. They couldn't do it without publizing that their discs were rotting.
      • I'm glad that I disregard the law and make backups anyway.

        Bad Law fosters Civil Disobedience.

        • Very true. I've long said that people do, or don't do, things based on their own morals and sensabilities - not because of laws.

          People drive 90MPH down the highway although the speed limit is 70MPH. The same people drive 20MPH down the highway in bad weather although the minimum speed limit is 45MPH. People copy music, movies, etc because they feel that they have the right to do so. Even old ladies are cranking out copies of songs for the gals in their church choir. In a democracy what the majority of the public wants is what the public should get. If people disobey a law in large numbers or obey only out of fear (or cus they don't know how to break the law - copy protection) then it's a stupid law. Laws exists to give our judical system guidelines about who to punish and how - not to tell people what is right or wrong.
    • Too bad it's illegal to make backups.
      What with the release of the KiSS DP-450 DVD player, which can play DivX 4&5, the backing up of DVD's would have been such a simple thing...

    • Woohoo! I'm glad to be a consumer!!

      Funny, yes, but at the same time... There is perfectly good reason to upgrade. New Technology Is Better(tm). Anyone who lived through vinyl or tapes, barring a few stubborn die-hards, will tell you moving to CD was an amazing transition. Fast track skipping and repeat, no clicks, no cracks, no "blurred" sound, etc. Ditto with going from videos to DVD - fast "fast-forward", no snow, no jammed tape, no "blurred" picture, etc. But when the next innovation in video or audio technology comes along we'll all step up sooner or later and realize how limiting CDs and DVDs really were.

    • If you buy a license to the content, but do not actually own the media, the content owners should be obligated to replace worn out/defective media for the lifetime of the license purchaser. Any publisher/copyright holder who refuses to do this should not be able to prosecute anyone for making backup/archival copies of data that they legitimately own a license for.
  • Bad DVD player! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FyRE666 ( 263011 )
    Or maybe the person compiling the list only buys sci-fi movies.

    Yeah, or maybe his DVD player is knackered, and it's damaging all his disks...
  • by krin ( 519611 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:41AM (#5202701) Homepage
    I had a DVD that was released in 2000 start to lose quality, also I noticed that the layers seemed to be seperating. I take good care of all my cds and dvds, so I knew it was no fault of mine. I contacted the company who pressed the dvd and they offered to send me a replacement as long as I sent in the original.
    • I'm building a library of best/classic films from around the world, and so movies from the Criterion Collection are a big part of it (wish they could get Wim Wenders, Kieslowski, Ozu and Jodorowsky films, but that's another story.) I've been impressed with the quality of the pressing from Criterion, and that sort of thing is a big part of my "do I buy or do I rent" determination. Criterion consistently puts together incredibly good DVD's, with excellent video and sound, fascinating background material (the accompanying material for Rashomon was a joy) and high-quality materials.

      Fun, dumb, disposable movies like MiB and most SF are definitely in the "rent, not buy" category, so that's one safe way to avoid the rot-factor.

  • Familiar? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Adolatra ( 557735 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:42AM (#5202702) Homepage
    Not to rain on the MPAA Conpiracy parade I'm sure we'll see from the usual suspects in a bit, but wasn't there a similar problem with early CDs?

    Or could this be "planned obsolescence," i.e., Sony's PlayStation2 hardware problems? (The PS2 breaks more often than the GC and XB combined, and usually Sony wants $100 just to look at it)

    • CAPCOM has made this point about Sony a few times. Seems it's actually a known habit at Sony, but their official take on it is "Game Systems only live a few years anyway."

      So, if your PS1 broke, buy a PS2. If you are unlucky and your PS2 breaks before the PS3 is out, you'll just have to buy a new one or wait till you can upgrade.

      I know someone who has owned 6 Playstations, 4 original, and 2 PS2s. My PS2 is now making funny noises. :(
    • I personally have not had that experience, nor has anyone that I know. I know the PS/1's (the little white hockypuck version) has some overheating problems. Having owned one, I can't say I ever noticed.

      Hell I drive a Ford Focus. There are websites devoted to telling you how crappy the brakes are. Well with 2 drivers (my wife and I), 2.5 years (woohoo, only 6 more payments!) and 40,000 mile later, we have not had to replace the brakes once. I might add that I, my wife, and most of her brothers and sister learned to drive stick on that car. The clutch is still going strong.

      My point is that EVERY mass produced item has a few bad runs. If you produce a million of something you will have a few hundred people who will have a crappy experience. You can match horror story for horror story for any consumer product out there. I don't think people remember the bitch sessions on slashdot about the early Xboxes being DOA, or dieing in a puff of smoke.

      I don't mean to take away from your suffering[sic]. I am just trying to give this thread some balance.

    • I have a playstation2 unit which was part of the first holiday batch (november 2000?--I'm an absent minded professor and it seems like just a little while ago to me) that landed at ToysRus.

      I am an avid gamer, and I know how to treat computer equipment, so I rarely used the hard-switch, and for the most part the unit was happily doing it's job. Then when the really nice dynamic 3D render games started showing up (Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, Jak and Daxter and such) my Playstation2 gradually stopped playing anything due to disc read errors. There was also this terrible ratcheting noise that it makes whenever the caddy opens. Really annoying cheap noise reminiscent of cheap-ass matsushita cd-rom units that die after about a month of use back in the day.

      Using a dry-brush cleaning kit did nothing for this problem, so I went online and after some serious google-diving I managed to find a site that elaborated on the problems with the DVD unit (lens discoloration reaction to cleaning agents, sensor faults and how to adjust the unit). I was going to give that a try but then I'm a programmer (read:lazy bastard) and decided to just send the bugger in.

      My Playstation2 was returned about three weeks later and it had developed a really interesting problem with the graphics...going to the inventory in Baldur's Gate:Dark Alliance would cause all the little objects to throw interesting splines all over the place...the brighter the object the worse the problem.

      Sent it back for that issue and three weeks later I was playing games without any problems other than that damn annoying ratchet noise from the media-caddy. That was about nine months ago and now, I'm back to the problem of the unit not reading any media (well, memory cards don't count), no music CD's, no Playstation1 games, and no Playstation2 games.

      Now I'm getting ready to send the unit back again, and hopefully they'll have the sense to throw-out the DVD unit and replace it with another...knowing my luck they'll give me a phone call and say something like
      "...and we need to charge you an additional $75 in order to replace the DVD unit in your console, do you want us to do this?"
      Of course the answer will be "Yeah, I guess so." and I'll be rattling off my CC#.

      Because it's what I play games on.
      And it's something of an "evil you know is better than the one you don't" situation. I could go drop another $150-$200 on a new unit, but I figure they've already made at least one engineering mod (for the graphics problem they fixed) and if the unit is stable when I get it back I'll probably spring for a linux-kit for it, or get one of those schweet logitech netplay contoller keyboards.

      Initially I was really torqued about this, but then as someone who has to deal with hardware and software issues all the time I have cooled down a bit from the inital "Screw this crap!" reaction.

      And as for longevity with the origial Playstations...I have an ancient second-hand playstation1 that has never, ever's survivied every TombRaider game, CrashTeam Racing, and an army of titles. Great piece of kit. Someday I hope the Playstation2 get's there.

      It would be nice if someone (OPM,or other game mags, independent webmaster with hosting in some other country that doesn't cave to corporate BS) could sponsor an impartial site which would track console issues.

  • conspiracy theorists... start your engines!
  • by sn0wcrash ( 223995 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:45AM (#5202710)
    Planned obsolescence. Companies know that as long as a consumer has somethign that works they are inclined to keep using it. They can't make money selling you one product once. The whole goal of these companies is to have you buy thier product again and again. Why do you think so few quality products are available today?
    • by anubi ( 640541 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @07:03AM (#5202858) Journal
      sn0wcrash - you must have some experience to see this.

      I guess I was in my mid 30's when I started really noticing how much work it was to have to re-do things that I had done poorly the first time. I think the catch phrase went something like " If you can't find the time to do it right, you will make the time to do it over.".

      I have lived through galvanized pipe - I will never have it again. Do you know how much work it is to have to strip the plumbing infrastructure from a house to re-do it? I do. Copper went back in. I soldered it personally. Never again will I have anything to do with galvanized pipe where I can't get to it.

      I moved from another house because I discovered it had aluminum wiring.

      There are some things I have learned to very highly value, and thats the elegance of things made right. I have a toaster, made by Sunbeam Electric Company, that was given to my parents as a wedding gift. I am no spring chicken either, but I still use that toaster every morning. ( Well, maybe that's why Sunbeam is out of business, they never sold me another one? ), but I really like that toaster. I have one of the very first microwave ovens ever built. It was a prototype, or at least that was what was stamped on its innards. It still works.

      When I took my first job in a major oil refinery, I participated in, a huge effort to put all our plant drawings into a CAD system, then powered with DEC computers. I watched as the company then abandoned the computers, going to another system - but the data files were incompatible, so they had to do it all over. What a waste!!! I learned by observation how much effort could have been saved if there had been such a thing as a standard data file. I learned the value of things like simple ascii files and comma-delimited-format database files.

      Technology will change. Most of the time, its been for the better, but many of the "improvements" to me are of dubious real value. Is a 1GHz Pentium laptop, which goes through batteries at an astronomical pace really any better than that old Radio Shach model 100 computer which used to get hundreds of hours on a set of penlight cells, albeit it only had a simple text LCD screen? I have a little 386SX laptop I like because it gets around 40 hours on its battery if I use the backlight sparingly. The screen is a little crude for graphics, and admittedly its a bit slow if its a graphics intensive program, such as font mapping under Win 3.1.. but if I am doing text stuff, I drop to DOS anyway because the machine is hundreds of times faster than I am when its using its hardware mapped character generator. But I can have the machine on from the time I leave the house, through the airport, on the plane, through the taxi trip, onto the hotel, and still have the battery running. Maybe Ashton-Tate 1-2-3 is a little dated, but it works. Same with MathCad. And the Futurenet electronic schematic editor. And the Spice analyzer. And the PCB Layout program. And my Borland C++ compiler. And the file sizes are small. And the files were simpler then. Most of the time, even if something does happen, I can usually open the files with a hexadecimal editor and see what the problem is.

      I have really learned the value of trying to do things right the first time so you do not *have* to do it over ( usually at the most inconvient of times ). I like having the option of replacing something when *I* feel its warranted, not when someone else gets it into their head they want to commandeer me to do so.

      I have worked with enough businesses now that I can see the smart ones do this too. You will see the smart ones configuring things so they get their system in place, then start using that system to make money... not so smart businesses never get their system working, as parts of it are constantly failing and needing to be replaced... kinda like that guy who never figured out what kind of plumbing would run till the proverbial cows come home, and which one would necessitate a constant stream of work to keep it running. Yes, I know one has to know how to solder to install copper, but in the long term, doing it right the first time leaves you free to spend your remaining time doing what was really important, now that your infrastructure is stable.

      The best example I can think of for GOOD ENGINEERING is the old Romans. They built roads and water aqueducts which are even in use today. Its not like *everything* needs to last an eternity, but I consider it a really good investment if one designs the Important Stuff to last the proverbial eternity. That way its there until *you* decide to change it.

      • I've noticed the same thing. Yeah, it's not evident to youngsters who grew up with everything being disposable, but to us old fogies (I'm 47) it sure is annoying when what I could formerly count on to give years of service now lasts a fraction as long, and is more inherently breakable.

        BTW check out ... not out of business at all, but quality of their products isn't what it used to be either. And you can't get a human response from 'em to save your life.

        Rather than buy a new whatever when something that was poorly made breaks, I'm inclined to do without, or find a different brand. So in my case they don't gain an extra sale by cutting corners; quite the reverse.

        "Everything is smaller, not as good, and more expensive than it used to be." -- Andy Rooney

  • by felonious ( 636719 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:48AM (#5202715) Journal
    For a minute there I thought that it might affect the porn titles but luckily it didn't happen. I think we could have been looking at riots and possibly martial law.

    You can steal my car, rob my mom, and beat my brother but DON'T FUCK WITH MY PORN!
  • by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:49AM (#5202719)
    Or maybe the person compiling the list only buys sci-fi movies.

    Or maybe this only happens to bad sci-fi movies.

  • Christ, you've posted every single story that's on the front page right now. You've been incessantly surfing through the queue submissions since 1pm yesterday.

    Take a break man -- you deserve it! ;-)

    * [] -- Latest article: "Tablet PCs As Mobile *nix Workstations"
  • Conspiracy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cheshiremackat ( 618044 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:51AM (#5202723)
    Ok NOT Trolling;
    But I find it oddly convenient that I am not legally able to dupe my DVD collection, and THEN magically they start to break... total boon to the studios and MPAA!

    Although, in an odd way this could be the YRO savior... think of it... this is a perfect reason to extend 'fair use' rights to digital media... DVDs break...computers crash, all necessitating backups... with DVDs rotting, it becomes alot harder for the RI/MPAA to argue against allowing 'perfect digital' duplicates...

    Mr. Valenti, I now have a perfectly valid and (IANAL but seems) legal reason to dupe my DVDs. I would love to see someone go to court and sue because the product was faulty and they are not legally able to make copies, and the studio wont replace it because the DVD is out of the 90 day warranty period... this could be very interesting!

    • Ok NOT Trolling; But I find it oddly convenient that I am not legally able to dupe my DVD collection, and THEN magically they start to break... total boon to the studios and MPAA!

      Ok, you're not a troll, but you're not correct, either.

      This is indeed a sign of something, but not the fact that there is a conspiracy afoot to make us buy more DVDs or prevent fair use. It is more a sign that quality of manufactured products overall is degrading. Few things last as long as they did before anymore. It's not limited to DVDs. When you live in a disposable society like the US, long term quality is not a priority. There's a reason why many warranties cover only the first 90 days.

      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @11:55AM (#5203895) Homepage Journal
        I've noticed the same thing with CDs, albeit under a certain degree of abuse:

        I use unwanted AOL and other CDs as "bird chasers" -- that is, I hang 'em outside in a tree to help keep the starlings out of my yard. Normally they pretty much last forever, or until the wind fairy steals 'em.

        The newest "bird chaser" consists of one rather old AT&T Connect CD, and one newish AOL 7.0 CD (the "rainbow" version). The AT&T CD still looks like new. The data layer of the AOL CD started flaking after about 4 months, and had completely peeled away after about 6 months; all that was left is the naked clear part of the disk. I'd never seen that before, but it sure looks like "made real poorly" to me. Contrast this to an AOL 3.0 CD that had hung outside for over a year before being rescued because a friend needed that particular version. It still installed just fine.

        Now, not that we care if AOL CDs fall apart, but I think it's probably a warning as to the current manufacturing quality of CDROM disks in general.

  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kscd ( 414074 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:55AM (#5202737)
    As much as this sucks for the people currently affected, I can't help but think of this as a good thing overall. It's only when Joe Schmoe starts to feel the fact that his fair use rights have been taken away by the DMCA that there will be enough outcry to repeal it.

    Linux, isn't sexy. This, however, is the stuff those stupid segmants on the 10 o'clock news are made of.
  • by C_To ( 628122 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:57AM (#5202738)
    After 10 months of owning the Collectors Edition of this movie, I was annoyed to find that it, in fact was unplayable at all. After closer inspection, it looked like the center of the first disc had been cracked in several places, while other DVD discs that I have played (for longer periods too) have stayed in perfect shape. I never noticed this because, until they are being viewed, my movies stay in their respective containers. This is the primary reason why I often resort to DivX and shifting formats of video. Other movies, I find, are very sensitive to layer changes, and once again, when I play back a DivX copy off a CD, I don't experience such problems (except the lack of extra features I probably won't use).
  • by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @05:58AM (#5202740) Homepage Journal
    This site [] appears to be the original source. This guy puts his bad DVDs under a high powered microscope and documents the damage.
    • Please don't spank that server too hard - i know the person involved (friend of a friend) and they only have a 6 gig limit for the month.
    • I may be thinking a bit out of context, but what is your SI? ...and why does it suck?

      • 01011001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01101100 01100101 01100110 01110100 00100000 01101111 01100110 01100110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01000111 00101110 00100000 01001101 01111001 00100000 01010011 01001001 01000111 00100000 01010011 01110101 01100011 01101011 01110011 00101110 00100000 01000001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01101001 01110100 00100000 01100100 01101111 01100101 01110011 00101110 00100000
  • Wasn't it in "Men in Black" when Mr.Agent K shows a little silvery disc and says something like: This little thing will substitute the CD in the next years. SH**, so i havce to buy "The White Album" again. Maybe this is a similiar plan?
  • by surprise_audit ( 575743 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @06:06AM (#5202757)
    Could this lead to the DMCA being overturned? No, I'm serious - all of us here know that the DMCA prohibits us from making backups of DVDs due to having to break the CSS, but Joe Sixpack is less aware of this issue.

    If it became commonly known that not only do DVDs degrade, but also you can't legally copy them to preserve the content that you already paid for, maybe there'll be enough disgruntled people writing to their Congresscritters that the DMCA will get a serious review.

    That won't help Joe Sixpack until legally licensed DVD-copying shops start to appear, but until then us geeks might be able to legally help out our buddies...

    • by gvonk ( 107719 )
      The thing is, and everyone on Slashdot seems to forget this, you DON'T have to break the css to copy a dvd!!!!
      Your player decodes it when you play it!
      Copy it with the CSS!
      • You can't copy the CSS. The keys (or something like that) are on a region of the DVD that no consumer DVD burner can write to. So we're back to square one.
      • Unfortunately, most of us don't have DVD burners/ A couple teras of hd space to store them on.

        Not to mention, I've got a plethora of CDs that don't have this same degrading-problem.

        But yet, I'm still not allowed to back them up.

        Even more importantly, I'm not legally allowed to watch my DVDs without shelling at least another $100, after I've already spent a good $60 on a DVD-ROM.
  • by The Tyro ( 247333 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @06:21AM (#5202782)
    Yeah, it's supposedly illegal, but why not archive your DVD's as DivX movies? Potential DVD damage seems like a pretty stinkin' good reason to me.

    DivX quality is pretty good, it's playable under linux (I like Mplayer, myself), and you don't have to worry about your DVDs getting scratched/broken/lost/stolen when they get handled.

    Nothing like having your entire DVD collection available on every computer in the house, served straight from your file server.
    • There are a couple of reasons why I haven't yet ripped my DVD's.

      For one it takes along time. I used to not think I would need a new computer but with my pIII 850 it takes a *long* time (like 8-9 hours) to rip and encode a single DVD, and my roommates p4 2.53ghz it still takes 3 hours to rip/encode a single DVD.

      Also, I have yet to really decide what to rip them to. I could rip em bit for bit but that takes up too much space. Encoding them in any codec just means I will probably have to re-encode them in a few years once that becomes obsolete.
      Also, even though Divx is pretty good you can still tell a major difference in picture quality (especially if the DVD is like 720p originally).

      I don't know. I imagine if/when I get a DVD burner I might just burn backup copies, that is probably the way to go.
      • Also, even though Divx is pretty good you can still tell a major difference in picture quality (especially if the DVD is like 720p originally).

        The maximum DVD resolution is 720x480, however that is 480p. 720p would be 1280x720, and there are no such DVDs. While divx rips usually have almost the same resolution (640x???), they have to resize the pixels (4:3 or 16:9 on DVD, 1:1 in DivX), which is the biggest cause of problems, particularly with lines that get jagged. Even with anti-aliasing, it's quite noticable if you look for it. But, I don't irritate over it, so for me it's completely ok.

    • IF you think that life span of DVD's is short, what about hard drives? Hard drives are only *designed* to work for a year. I don't store anything critical on a hard drive without a CD backup.
  • by PetWolverine ( 638111 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @06:23AM (#5202785) Journal
    Okay, so this is the stuff that if you throw it in the landfill it'll be around for a million years (give or take), but if you make a disc out of it it'll decompose in two years. Pretty uncooperative of it, if you ask me.

    Well, personally I don't worry about DVDs degrading. I just rip them to my hard drive, bit for bit, minus copy protection (so come arrest me, why doncha). Takes up a lot of space, but what the's cheaper than buying them, especially twice!
  • by dWhisper ( 318846 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @06:28AM (#5202795) Homepage Journal

    All of the titles are associated with aliens in some way? Coincidence? I think not.

    Using the best fuzzy logic that caffeene and sleep-deprivation can provide, I can prove this fact.

    The DMCA is evil, and has long conspired against anyone actually enjoying their information. It's also meant to make more money, and since people will have to purchase the "non-defective" discs, or more than likely pay twice the DVD cost in handling costs for a replacement, it makes them more money. The MPAA/RIAA is the main driving force behind the the DMCA.

    The government has supposedly been covering up the existance of aliens for decades, and usually does everything they can to make it fictional. They tend to distroy anything with truth in it.

    The government passed the DMCA, and it prevents these Discs from being copied.

    The movies are all about aliens, and the government hides things about aliens.

    Therefore, the people at the RIAA/MPAA who back up the DMCA must be aliens.

    And that makes aliens evil.

    [End Sarcasam]
  • by The Mutant ( 167716 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @06:39AM (#5202805) Homepage
    but I do know that CD's and DVD's are both the same in that the are physically constructed of several layers.

    Each layer consists of various polymers, and although sealed polymers are susceptible to degrading. Even though they are realtively robust compared to say, videotape, the weakest part of a CD or DVD is the side where information is made available to the reading device.

    Polymers can react with moisture or UV light, and once that reaction starts (this is where a *real* chemist should start to add some meat to this discussion) it throws off by products that cause further degradation.

    CDs and DVD's do ship with a protective layer that is intended to shield the delicate, information carrying sublayers but once damaged (i.e., scratched), the degradation process can begin.

    Apparently if you store them properly - low humidty and at about 8 to 10 C, even damaged CD's and DVD' s will remain stable indefinitely.

    • I'm not a chemist either, but I remember enough from my metalurgy class at MIT to add something here -- plus I have practical experience with both polymers and metals in adverse circumstances: boats.

      What you say is true, but misses the real issue: Polymers are generally *relatively* stable, compared to most things. And right next to the polymer is something which is decidedly NOT stable!

      Have you heard of thermite? The thermite reaction involves the oxidation of aluminum, and aluminum is VERY hungry. It will actually steal oxygen from from iron oxide (rust) under the right circumstances -- and release a lot of heat in the process. (But aluminum oxide is more voluminous and stronger than aluminum, and quickly seals off exposed aluminum behind a thin layer of oxide. That's why your beer can isn't on fire inside your fridge.

      But exposed aluminum is very reactive. Freshly-machined shavings of aluminum can catch fire.

      It's the aluminum that's reacting. What is it reacting with? Several possibilities that I see:
      1) Impurities in the polymer.
      2) Impurities in the alumnimum deposition.
      3) Impurities in the adhesive.
      4) Impurities migrating through the polymer.
      5) Impurities migrating in from the edge via the adhesive and/or the metal layer itself.

      It could be a combination:

      Dissimilar metals in contact set up a battery, if anything is available to complete the circuit. For example, put a brass screw into salt water, and before you know it, all the zinc will disolve and the screw will crumble into copper dust. Either metal by itself will do just fine in salt water -- so long as they're not touching.

      Impurities in the aluminum might be stable unless they get, e.g. moisture migration along the adhesive from the outside edge.

      Impurities could be in the polymer, or generated from degradation of same, but that wouldn't explain the observed failure pattern, so I think we can tentatively rule those out as contributing factors.

      From this, what you say about storing them under low humidity and temperature makes sense -- but I bet this only comes from theory. It would take a LOT of CD's and a LOT of time, and a LOT of work to reach this conclusion validly through statistical observation.
    • The problem is not the plastic. The problem is the ultra-thin layer of metal that reflects the light back. It's only a few microns thick, so it really doesn't take much to punch a hole through it.

      Now with CD's they got around that with a really sweet error-correcting code. It will continue to play properly with up to 40 continuous errors in a row. The problem is that cracks tend to be a bit wider than 40 sectors on the disk. You will find that same sort of error correcting code on a lot of digital media.

      Now with CD's, you were storing the virgin signal. Even when a pop occured, it was recorded at twice the frequency humans could percieve, so most of the time you just don't notice. DVD's store a highly compressed, lossy version of the signal. You don't have as much information redundancy, and you have a much higher information density, AND you have an extra layer on each playable side of the disk.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 01, 2003 @06:41AM (#5202809) enu=news.quirkies

    CD-eating fungus discovered

    A Spanish scientist has discovered a fungus which eats CDs.

    Geologist Victor Cardenes says he stumbled across the microscopic creature while visiting Belize.

    The discovery came after friends complained that one of their CDs had developed an odd discoloration that left parts of it virtually transparent.

    Using an electron microscope, Cardenes and colleagues at the Madrid-based Superior Council for Scientific Research later observed that fungi had burrowed into the CD from the outer edge.

    It had then devoured the thin aluminium reflecting layer and some of the data-storing polycarbonate resin.

    Cardenes said: "If you look at the CD from the shiny side, in the places where the fungus has been you can see all the way through to the painted surface on the other side.

    "It completely destroys the aluminium. It leaves nothing behind."

    Biologists at the council concluded that the fungus belonged to a common genus called Geotrichum but had never seen this particular species before.

    They add that, fortunately for Europeans, the fungus only survives in the sultry weather conditions that prevail in Belize.

    Story filed: 16:53 Friday 15th June 2001

    • Geologist Victor Cardenes says he stumbled across the microscopic creature while visiting Belize.

      I read that, and pictured a scene similar to the following.

      Man steps off a plane, enters an airport terminal.

      "Ahh, Belize! I cannot WAIT to get to..." *trip* (Man trips over something invisible while walking through the terminal)

      "My, word! What's this? I say, it appears to be a microscopic organism that feeds on compact discs!"

      That's strange, this article didn't start out as funny, but I'm laughing. heh.
  • I think I've found the site that shows the list of "rotting" DVD titles mentioned in the article: []

    I'm surprised Titan A.E. isn't on the list. Both I and a friend of mine own this DVD, and we've both had our copies degrade to be nearly unplayable. Mine has spent its entire life in a 200-disc carousel, where none of the other discs have had any problems.
  • We heard the same thing twenty years ago about CD's.
    • We heard the same thing twenty years ago about CD's.

      You can fix DVDs the same way, just get a blue marker pen and draw a line arround the edge of the DVD.

      If that fails send the DVD to Craig Shergold.

  • Get used to it... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rxke ( 644923 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @07:10AM (#5202871) Homepage
    Studying for a masters degree in conservation and restauration of visual media, we've just hit the subject of digital conservation. guess what... 'It is recommended to make backups of DVD's every FIVE years, since the format cannot be considered stable for more than 10 years, even in ideal storage conditions' the cracking of the plastic layer is inherent to the prodduction proces, figure that! Seems that the alu/plastic bonds cause excessive strans because they have different expansion characteristics, so everytime they get a bit hotter/colder, the risk of cracking occurs. furthermore, some plants use 'glues' that affect the alu layer, so it starts corroding. kinda depressing all that...
    • Is there anything in the works for use as a true archival media? I'm talking something with a shelf life of hundreds of years, or is that just sci-fi right now?

      On a kinda related notion, I remember reading an article in Analog sci-fi (maybe) about how you would leave a message for people 20-30,000 years from now. Such as to mark a storage site for nuclear waste. Not easy...

      Safe to say your DVD collection would be dust.
      • by Rxke ( 644923 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @07:51AM (#5202931) Homepage
        Hope you love spy movies... The best system for longer-lived archivation (and excuse me my Engrish, i'm from Belgium...) is actually something we all know from those russian mumbling, raincoat-wearing types: MICROFILM! Yeah, iknow...sounds funny, but seriously: a lot of musea et;c. are switching back to this old and trusted archival system. It's tried and tested, the information density is not that bad (compared to parchment, anyway,) storage, copying and retrieval is kinda straightforward, and thus relatively cheap, in comparison to digital storage, where you have not only to update your disks, tapes, what have you, but also your computers, readers,... at a very high pace (say ten years) Microfilms are guaranteed reliable for over 100 years, and can be combined with ocr (if you want to swap computers every ten years (sigh) Ok, it's far from ideal, and admittedly super-bulky, compared with DVD's and the like, but for valuable data, convenience has to make way for reliability.
        • Think high-density two-dimensional barcodes on microfilm.
        • It's not bad for the long run, but there's a huge advantage to having data in the digital domain: replication. Once you have digital data, it's relatively trivial to move it to the latest and greatest format that will (supposedly) last a long time.
        • The best system for longer-lived archivation (and excuse me my Engrish, i'm from Belgium...) is actually something we all know from those russian mumbling, raincoat-wearing types: MICROFILM

          Microfilm has a long lifetime per cm^2 for film, but even compared to highly acidic newspaper paper it has a very short lifetime. The advantage of digital media is not that a copy will last very long on whatever media it is recorded on, but that you can make near-perfect copies of data that has decent error correction codes. Then you reconstitute the ECC, and you have a new copy that will last as long as the first copy. Microfilm has been very valueable though as a warning to us not to destroy the originals after we've copied it into another media. We'll probably never know as much about the early 21st century as we've learned about the 17-19th centuries because of all the newspapers we pulped. Now those pages we actually photographed are not only bad copies but are also getting fuzzier by the minute... (Read "Double Fold" by Nick Baker for more info, as someone who quit a law library in discust when I was asked to participate, I can tell you he understates the danger our so called libraries are to the future of civilization.)

          This is another reminder of the great crime to history long copyrights and immoral copy-protection schemes are.

      • There was an article in Omni some years ago about 'deep time communication'

        The big problem with deep time communication, though, is not so much media longevity, but communicating a message to people with whom you may not share any linguistic or cultural referent.
  • by ComputarMastar ( 570258 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @07:32AM (#5202906)
    I haven't run into this problem myself (yet), but some of the DVDs I have are in cases that require you to BEND THE DISC to get it out. What a horrible design!
  • "Symptoms of the rot include picture break-up and freezing at a specific place on the disk. The main cause is believed to be poorly designed cases. Delamination shows up as a coffee-like stain that prevents the disc from playing."

    you know, picture break-up could be caused by scratches and puup on the dvd, and the freezing in a specific place could be attributed to the delay in switching layers during playback.

    i've seen funky "stains" on CDs and DVDs, but haven't had problems with playback. i'm not saying that dvd rot doesn't happen, just that there are other reasons for playback problems.
  • Otherwise you might not be able to view your film collection 30 years from now...
  • by NotAnotherReboot ( 262125 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @07:55AM (#5202939)
    I own a DVD of Gladiator (with Russel Crowe). There isn't a single scratch on the disc, but now when I put it in the player, it can't get beyond the menu (even on the computer). I'm not sure why these companies can't have a return policy since they're so cheap to make (ie, they tell you to send some type of SASE) but I suppose it's the whole thing about getting people to buy the same movie over and over again. I thought I had a license to view it by owning it, but if I can't do that, what do I have?
    • by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @08:49AM (#5203016)
      You, like many others, have a dirty lens (laser). In most cases, a swipe with a lens cleaning disc will do the some cases, the unit will need to be opened, and the lens area dusted with compressed air..that stuff in the can. If your player lives in a dusty or smoke typical area, you might want to think about opening it twice a year and cleaning things out.

      I'd give this a shot before I started returning DVD's.
      • You, like many others, have a dirty lens (laser).

        You have a point, but at the same time, that's real evidence of deterioration in his microscopic examination of the disk.

        I would, however, be interested to see if his discs had the same problem in other players. Recently my wife and I tried to watch a DVD fresh out of the shrink wrap. In our three-year-old Mitsubishi DVD player, the picture starting getting "motion artifacts" after playing for about fifteen minutes. If I stopped the disc and started it again via the scene selection menu, it would run okay for another fifteen and then the same problem. But when we threw the same disc into the Playstation 2, it played perfectly, and other, older discs appear to play fine in the Mitsubishi player. Go figure.

  • 1. Fundamentally, starting from the playback side, the disc consists of data layer 1 (the first layer as played back by the DVD player), backed by a semi-reflective metallic coating (often gold)

    OOOOOhhh! I read on slash a while back about people in 3rd world countries pouring acid on the electronic junk we send over there for gold.

    Now i'm trying to think of a chemical that could melt a DVD, Anyone? I'd guess turpintine or paint thinner could do it. Jasco definetly could melt it (when I was 5 I ruined our plastic vacuum cleaner by pourin jasco on it)

    So you could have like a 1000 of those suckers mailed round to you easily. Make a few phone calls posing as a screwdriver shop (Oh yes, my customers like AOL!)

    Now take these 1000 or so AOL DVD's, and put them in a stainless steel container, add in turpintine, jasco, whatever and let it melt.

    Hopefull if you can use a thin enough solvent it will be enough for the gold particles to float down to the bottom, drain off the top and you got instant gold.

    In this fucked economic downturn i'll cook up all kinds of crazy idea's like this to make a buck.

  • He works as a failure analysis engineer, with access to an optical microscope.
    An optical microscope huh? Wow. He must be a really important guy. You can't just by that kind of technology in a high street store. No, wait, actually, you can...
  • by sawilson ( 317999 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @08:22AM (#5202974) Homepage

    10 Things I Hate About You
    101 Dalmations
    Abyss SE
    Alien Boxset
    Bad Boys - repressed
    Contact - repressed
    Independence Day SE
    L.A Confidential - repressed
    Little Mermaid
    Men in Black CE
    Planet of the Apes 1968
    Stuart Little


    Boogie Nights - first release
    Bone Collector
    Chicken Run
    Dances With Wolves
    Galaxy Quest
    Devil's Advocate
    L.A Confidential
    The Negotiator
    Stuart Little
    T2:UE (Dual Sided Disc)
    War Games
  • by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @08:41AM (#5202999)
    Since when were these discs glued togther?

    CD's, DVD's...they are not 'glued' together, as the article states. This guy should be shot.

    Anyone that knows will tell you why they refer to the 'stamper' when they talk about mass duplication. I'll wait for a more knowledgeable source to comment on DVD 'rot'...Sure, if you keep them on the dashboard of your van, or floor of the basement...but falling apart just by laying around in a case...not sure about that one. I can see delamination from a faulty stamping procedure, but these machines are expensive and are operated in clean rooms. Each disc is verified, etc. You'd know if you had a chronic problem, and then you have a different issue, such as fraud for selling bad goods. To say that 10% of the DVD's in general use are now faulty sounds like a bit of FUD.
    • According to this article [][]:

      ...The basic manufacturing process for DVD is similar to the current process for CD-ROM, with some exceptions. Two injection molders are required to make one DVD, which consists of two bonded 0.6 mm discs. The second additional manufacturing step is hot-melt glue bonding (single layer) or UV bonding (dual layer). For the dual layer design, a semi-reflective layer is also added to allow both information layers to be read from one side of the disc. DVD also uses a high resolution laser beam to write a glass master in addition to incorporation a new semi-reflective layer rather than the standard aluminum layer in CD-ROM.

      This internal design provides DVD with the major advantage over CD. To improve the resolution and readability of two distinct layers, the minimum pit length of a single layer DVD is 0.4 micro meters, as compared to 0.83 micro meters for a CD. In addition, the DVD track pitch is reduced to 0.74 micro meters, less than half of CDs 1.6 micro meters. With the number of pits equating to capacity levels, DVDs reduced track pitch and pit size creates four times as many pits as CDs.

      ...[Boring bit about reading out to in instead of in to out]...

      These numerous manufacturing and design differences lead to an expanded step for DVD production -- more extensive quality control. The DVD process requires optimum pit replication because smaller pits spaced closer together are more susceptible to jitter. In addition, the bonding of two discs requires no tilt in either, making the disc itself a more critical component to the production process

    • Somebody mod this down. DVD rot is a well-documented phenomenon. My copy of "The Devil's Advocate" has rotted (it's unplayable past the second layer, which irritates me to no end as it's one of the original pressings) and many early WB titles (this was one of them) are notorious for this.
  • by Mipmap ( 569611 ) on Saturday February 01, 2003 @09:10AM (#5203055)
  • Or else my Fight Club SE would be dust by now.

    Maybe that's why Disney is taking DVDs off the market for a number of years. Once your discs rot, you'll have to buy them again, right about the time they are re-released.

  • Laser disks experienced a similar problem - which generally showed up as snow on the video, or freezing at a particular frame.
  • What if everyone in america reading this phones up/writes letters to the producer of their DVDs asking for them to provide or make available a system for making legal same quality backups of their DVDs. My reading of the DMCA implies that the producers of these DVDs must allow for or provide systems that allow continued fair use backups. As this medium turns out to *require* backups of the media, then it is upon the producers to provide a solution.

    Get your letter writing campaigns underway. And remeber, if they send you back something saying that they have no systems available, thats just them saying 'well you have to find your own systems'... Heck, thats a licence to use of DECSS.
  • Just a little conspiracy theory.

    1) Produce degradable discs (say 50 years lifetime, tops)
    2) Prevent anyone from making a copy (DMCA)
    3) Sell new "special/extended/edited/remastered" versions under constantly new copyrights
    4) No working copies ever hit public domain - as good as infinite copyright
    5) Make people buy the same thing over and over again forever
    6) Profit

  • I have yet to pay more than $50 for a DVD. And I have a rule about not allowing the fuss over an inanimate object to exceed it's replacement value. I usually pay a lot less that $50 for a DVD, but I know if I said something realistic (say $30) trolls would accuse me of lowballing. (No I didn't buy all 3 LOTR disk sets. I bought the cheap one, and borrowed the others from doting relatives.)

    Now, for my $50, I usually get about 4 good showing of the movie before getting bored with it and putting it on the shelf. The Matrix is an exception. Every time I tweak something on my PC I whip out the Matrix for a benchmark. A) I never get bored of watching that movie. B) There are so many scenes where the entire picture is shifting that it will immediately expose ANY flaws in a DVD playback implementation.

    Now $50 buys me, on average, about 7.5 hours of enjoyment. And, if you have multiple people watching the movie, the cost is divided by the number of sets of eyes.

    Now $50 is dinner and a movie for me and the wife. $50 is less than the admission for one person to an amusement park for one day. $50 is the less than the minimum charge for taking you car to the shop. $40 is a cable modem for a month. $50 is a set of fillings at the dentist. Shit, people spend more than that filling their prescriptions.

    Now you are trying to tell me I should get all bent out of shape about how a flimsy plastic disk I bought for less than $50 isn't going to last forever?

    Crap people, a DVD is a lossy compressed version of the original. It has no archival value. The crispest frames (every 8) use inverse cosine compression similar to JPEG, and the rest store varying levels of what changed in between frames. With some tweaks to compensate for motion. It is a consumer playtoy, to be watched and turned into a coaster when you are finished.

    • So.. let's say you're a collector, not a "use once, throw away" consumer (in which case, why buy when you can rent?), and in the past couple years you've accumulated a nice DVD library. 300 DVDs (a typical number I've seen bandied about by collectors) even at $20 each is $6000 (plus around $500 in sales tax in most states; EU VAT may be much higher).

      Are you saying it's okay for this $6000+tax to go down the drain every few years, due to disk rot? Is that now such a trivial sum that you can just throw it away??

      BTW, why does your sig seem so appropriate? ;)

      • People collect baseball cards too. Baseball cards are printed on acid paper, a lousy archival media. But the were not designed to be collectible. The first ones were designed to push bubble gum sales.

        Once the store prints you a reciept of purchase, all "value" is in the eye of the beholder.

        If someone was "collecting" movies, instead of simply gathering disks, one of the first prints of the film is preferred. If a digital format is desired, you would want an uncompressed feed that was used to make the DVD. With a respectable resolution those feeds could approach a terabyte in size.

  • So hmm.. Planet of the Apes, Men in Black: Collectors Edition, Independence Day.. they're all degrading, the pattern is clear: Do not buy crappy crappy movies on DVD.
  • There's no DMCA in Canada, so I'm going to start ripping my DVD's right now.

    Now if somebody can recommend a good DVD ripping program for either Windows or Linux...
  • Wow, that's a lot. The submitter seems to say that "it's not that bad", but if every 10 are faulty, you're likely to be affected if you regularly by DVD's.
  • And why anyone is surprised that it happens to DVDs is beyond me. It happens to LaserDiscs because their sheer size makes them harder to manufacture than CDs, so manufacturers use processes they don't have to use with a CD. (The fact that LDs have analog video makes them dramatically touchier than a sheet with holes poked out of it.) DVD is digital but it's way complex, especially when you get into multi-layer DVDs like most of them seem to be these days. It's really easy to notice switching layers on my Apex 3201 because A> it does no buffering to speak of so it's a chunky operation similar to changing sides of a laserdisc though of course not THAT slow, LDs seek slowly and B> because the firmware for the 3201 prints PLAY on the screen whenever you change streams for any reason.

    This is why digital media is superior to analog media even though dense analog media stores more data; you can copy it over and over again. Of course, they try to make it illegal to copy DVDs but who does that stop? Fuck 'em.

  • CDs have been around since 1984, so shouldn't CDs have suffered the same problem? Or are CDs and DVDs made with very different processes? Does the fact that DVDs use smaller pits than CDs make DVDs less durable?
  • I read tha part about the coffee stain-like patches on disc. I've noticed many of my DVDs have discoloured, irregular patches, sometimes there are multiple clearly delineated shades. It's not like I'm doind anything to these poor things, they come out like that out of the shrinkwrapped box.

    Would this be an indication of a (future) problem disc?
  • What about Mission : Impossible
    "This message will self-destruct..."

Maybe you can't buy happiness, but these days you can certainly charge it.