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Self-Destructing DVD's Coming Soon 798

BrianH writes "Looks like a close cousin of everybody's favorite self-destructing video format is making a comeback. Four years after Circuit City and its Hollywood backers pulled the plug on the self-expiring DVD concept, FlexPlay Technologies has introduced the EZ-D...a 48-hour self-expiring DVD disk. The difference? This time around you don't need a special player, and "time extensions" are no longer an option. It looks like Buena Vista has already signed on to the format, so Disney, Mirimax, and all of their other companies should be using this soon. As if that wasn't bad enough, it looks like this works for music and software disks too!" Here's an older story on these technologies.
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Self-Destructing DVD's Coming Soon

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  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @11:44PM (#5977967)
    actually, you don't need to decrypt anything to make a bit-by-bit copy. Kind of silly, if you think about it.

    Remember though that DVDs require two decryption keys to work: one of which is stored in the player, and the other in a special area on the DVD. Blank DVDs have this key area zeroed out and can't record data on them, so unless you have a DVD press in your basement you can't make a true bit-for-bit copy which includes this vital key area. This is why decryption tools like DeCSS are necessary if you wish to copy CSS encoded DVDs on your computer.

  • Re:Ways to crack it (Score:5, Informative)

    by polymath69 ( 94161 ) <> on Friday May 16, 2003 @11:51PM (#5978017) Homepage
    I'm assuming the disc reacts with gasses in the air, so all you have to do to get unlimited viewing time is keep the dvd in a vacuum, nothing major.

    The story [] I saw this morning seemed to imply that there were two color changes involved. One, when you removed it from the envelope, to make it readable, and another 48 hours later making it unreadable again. (On rereading it, they may have meant "undecypherable to the laser" where they wrote "impenetrable to the laser"; you know how those non-techies are with language: so there may be only one color change.)

    That said, maybe you could extend the life somewhat by keeping the disk in the freezer between plays. But you know people will just copy 'em to the hard drive instead of bothering.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2003 @11:55PM (#5978043)
    also commercial dvds are typically double layer and use more than 4.7 gigs of storage. Downsampling of the video bit rate or removal of special features is usually needed.
  • Re:Open Season (Score:5, Informative)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Saturday May 17, 2003 @12:07AM (#5978095) Homepage Journal
    You're not getting the point either. IT'S NOT TO PREVENT HAVING TO RETURN MOVIES TO THE STORE. As has been pointed out amply in this and previous stories on similar topics (not an actual product announcement, but various stories on this which could be summed up as "coming soon to a landfill near you") video stores make a significant portion of revenues from late fees. This rarely results in them actually losing a rental sale since when people go to rent a movie, they generally have a backup plan in case the movie they want is out.
  • by m00nun1t ( 588082 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @12:08AM (#5978097) Homepage
    According to MSNBC [], the process is "similar to rusting", confirming our suspicions that it is a reaction to the air. They also say it's a perfectly normal DVD in the interim, so bring on DeCSS.
  • wrong there bud (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2003 @01:08AM (#5978349)
    On these new discs there's actually no copy-prevention mechanism besides CSS, which has been around for a very long time already. DVD burners aren't illegal because they don't circumvent copy-prevention mechanisms, and they are quite useful to the home-movie afficionados like me.
  • Pressure (Score:2, Informative)

    by hackwrench ( 573697 ) <> on Saturday May 17, 2003 @01:28AM (#5978413) Homepage Journal
    You're looking at pressure the wrong way. It isn't the zero pressure that's actually the problem. Its the pressure of the gas in the bubble. The same thing with human beings.
  • by AnotherBrian ( 319405 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @01:32AM (#5978424) Homepage
    Depending on what gas in the air causes the reaction, it's probably the oxygen or nitrogen.

    If the reactant is oxygen or nitrogen just place the dvd player in an open box with a piece of dry ice or another source of CO2. The CO2 is heaver than air so if you don't disturb it, the CO2 will stay in the box. If it's not O2 or N, bolt the box to the ceiling and fill it with helium.
  • Not really (Score:3, Informative)

    by YuppieScum ( 1096 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @05:35AM (#5979086) Journal
    A DVD or VHS used for rental typically costs six times more than a retail copy.

    At (for example) GBP60 for a new movie on VHS (as Rainman was on it's release), the tape has to be rented 120 times at GBP2 just to break even on the purchase price - that's every night for 3 months - to say nothing of the store overhead.

    Now add to this the fact that you can never have just *one* copy of a new release on the shelf, or your customers will go elsewhere.

    This is why your corner video store HAS to charge late fees, and sell off pre-rental tapes... and why they get annoyed at customers who complain about paying a GBP10 late fee and then won't return the tape, saying "That's what the tape costs, why shouldn't I keep it?"...

    The economics of a single video rental shop are marginal (pardon the pun) - the bread and butter is made not from A-list movie releases, but B-list and back catalogue material, as well as actual "retail" meterial like snacks and drinks.

    Now, consider instead the disposable DVD scenario: the economics change from the rental to pure retail model.

    Instead of having to buy 5 copies at GBP60 each and rent them 600 times at GBP2 a time to break even, they can buy 200 disposables at GBP1.50 each and make a guaranteed GBP0.5 on each sale.

    Even better, if 50 customers want to see the new Vin Diesel exploderama on the day it is released, they can, and they don't need to go to your competitor.

    Plus, the opportunity of "sale or return" on stock arises, so the video store can hold a thousand copies of "Things Exploding" on the day of release, and send back any used copies for credit.

    Finally, expect this "disposable format" to only be used for A-list titles in the first 3 months or so of their release, and subsequently revert to standard "long life" format.

    In fact, it's a shame that this didn't/couldn't happen a long time ago, as Blockbuster would never have got a foothold in the market.
  • by ealbers ( 553702 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @08:17AM (#5979385)
    Just get a can of clear laquer and spray the surface
    It will dry translucent and stop any further reaction with the air.
  • by pfw3_1229 ( 206369 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @08:25AM (#5979407)
    Speaking as a current employee, it is true that about 40% of Blockbuster's Revenue comes from EVF (Extended Viewing Fees). Also, most stores no longer participate in "Guaranteed in Stock" movies, so I would doubt that this would be a viable option for blockbuster.

    Some movies get rented upwards of 50 times while they are on the wall, this would require having 50 times the inventory that is normally carried.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2003 @09:09AM (#5979512)
    Also, most stores no longer participate in "Guaranteed in Stock" movies, so I would doubt that this would be a viable option for blockbuster.

    The store where I live still has this policy, but they have to look through all the movies that were returned and not processed in addition to checking the computer for movies returned and processed. On a busy night (when they're most likely to not have something in stock), that can take a while.

    Also, a previous poster used "$1" to describe the late fee. I don't know about other places but where I live the late fee on a new release is quite a bit more than that.

    As much as I think consumerism is becoming too rampant for our society, at least Blockbuster's business model has a significant portion of reusability built in.

  • Chemistry (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2003 @09:09AM (#5979514)
    Everyone seems to be interested in the chemistry behind this, but the article posted here does not go in-depth about this, which has lead to many misunderstandments.

    We will never know what happens exactly, as this will obviously be a trade secret. I will buy a DVD like this as soon as they are available, even though I don't have a player for it. Just to see the effects of changing the environment in which the DVD is kept, and see if it slows down or speeds up the process.

    Let's summarize:

    There are two technologies, SpectraDisc and Flexplay.

    Both Flexplay and SpectraDisc add a chemical time bomb to DVDs that begins ticking once the package is open and the discs are exposed to air.

    SpectraDisc applies an outer chemical layer to the disc that begins evaporating and changing in color as the expiration time nears.

    Flexplay integrates its chemicals into the inner layers of the disc.

    SpectraDisc DVDs turn blue. Flexplay discs also turn darker, becoming so opaque that the laser inside a DVD player no longer can read the disc. Eventually, the laser beam is not reflected anymore, because the disc has become too dark.

    Spectra Science won't say exactly how its technology works, just that the chemical reaction is similar to how litmus paper works. Once the disc is put in the player and is hit by the DVD laser, it starts a process that eventually turns the disc blue, and blocks the DVD player's ability to read the disc.

    SpectraDisc's self-destructing DVDs can be reused if a new coat of the play-limiting chemicals is reapplied. Apply those chemicals, and your DVD works again.

    Flexplay's discs can only be broken down and recycled as plastic waste. Without opening the Flexplay package, the DVD will become unreadable after a year. Which means the reaction also occurs in the wrapping, although a lot slower.

    None of these technologies disable the possibility to be copied. A DVD can be ripped in about half an hour, and no technology is built in to stop you from doing that. But you can also copy a rented VHS. In fact, this is renting, it's just that "giving it back" is replaced by "making it unreadable", which has the same result: you once had a working copy, and a bit later, you don't.
  • how it works (Score:3, Informative)

    by infocalypse1 ( 606179 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @10:04AM (#5979724)
    Take a look at the following US Patents: 6537635 and 6511728. My best guess is that their first gen disc uses the Silver/Aluminum redox effect. This is dead easy to block, and, moreover, is reversible. This stuff could be a lot of fun to play with. (p.s., the full text of the patents is available on the US PTO database- use any search engine to get the URL)
  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zone-MR ( 631588 ) <slashdot AT zone-mr DOT net> on Saturday May 17, 2003 @10:53AM (#5979936) Homepage
    Which used to be a pain in the ass until someone made a nice free utility called DVDShrink (freeware).

    It rips the DVD, and reencodes it on the fly. Keeps all the extras unless you choose otherwise.

    On my pc ripping a DVD and reencoding it takes 30 mins or so. Burning takes 40. In 1:30 mins my computer spits out a copy which hardly ever expires. And on a 4.3GB DVD-R the bitrate is still high enough for me not to notice any compression artifacts.
  • No... (Score:3, Informative)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Saturday May 17, 2003 @11:58AM (#5980218)
    It's because the obvious next step is content that ONLY comes out on this media... like a movie your kids really want to watch. Think they are not this stupid/greedy? Then you don't know the Disney of today and its ilk.

    A very plausible scenario is releasing a time-decay DVD version of a cartoon months before a full DVD... and also making the price of full DVD's a lot higher because there is a time-limited version.

    It will be good for rental stores though, no returns...

    Personally, instead of trying to thwart the physical medium I think I would tend to just copy the data if it were all that important to me!!

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.