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Data Recovered From DVD Leads To Conviction, 24-Year Sentence 231

Lucas123 writes "The Santa Cruz, Calif. DA's office had been counting on a DVD with the recorded testimony of a victim in case against a serial rapist, but when they popped the video into the player, nothing came up — the disc was blank. To make matters worse, the cop who performed the original interview with the victim told the DA she never said she was 'forced,' so the judge wasn't going to allow the witness to testify in a case where her original statement to police was in conflict with her current testimony. After two local data recovery firms said there was no way to restore the data, a third was able to recover the police interview from two years earlier, which led the defendant to plead guilty earlier this month. Close call."
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Data Recovered From DVD Leads To Conviction, 24-Year Sentence

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 12, 2008 @11:55PM (#26099843)

    I bet they still got paid for their efforts, which is probably enough for them.

    I doubt it. The two times my company needed to use a data service to recover data from dead hard disks, it was pay for play. If they didn't get any data back, they didn't get paid.

    It cost about $1000 each time.

  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @12:27AM (#26100011)

    We shred DVDs. It's a consumer-level shredder. It cuts the disc all to hell and is even pretty thorough at removing the medium from the substrate, or whatever the nomenclature is.
    There are consumer shredders that will do discs, but ours was definitely not cheap. A GBC Shredmaster "DOD" model. (We're not a defense shop, we're a research hospital/medical college, among other things.)

  • by Compholio ( 770966 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @12:46AM (#26100133)
    I noticed after burning the disk that there was dust on the bottom (a lot of it concentrated in one spot). So, I blew it off and the part where the dust used to be was distinctly the "not burned" color. For shits and giggles I tried the disk anyway and there were a bunch of inaccessible files. Since I noticed it right away I just chucked the disk and made a new one (I was working with data on a PC). This happened quite a while ago, but if you're curious I could attempt to intentionally reproduce it.
  • Re:eep (Score:2, Informative)

    by lysergic.acid ( 845423 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @12:53AM (#26100179) Homepage

    i know. i read the article.

    the PAL remark was a joke.

  • by CyberZCat ( 821635 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @12:59AM (#26100211)

    This is a very common problem that happens when a disc isn't finalized on both audio CDs and video DVDs that are recorded on direct to disc consumer recording systems. After a the actual data is written what is a essentially a "table of contents" has to be written at the beginning of the disc, otherwise you get the "blank disc" effect as describe here. That two separate data specialists couldn't figure this out is rather concerning...

  • Re:eep (Score:4, Informative)

    by gregbot9000 ( 1293772 ) <> on Saturday December 13, 2008 @02:50AM (#26100689) Journal
    Or they could stick to the analog media that is near failure proof. They probably knew how it worked, it just probably didn't. Write error that wasn't detected, minor corruption in the disk, things that can't be planned for. After having lost 2 years worth of photos to two minor technical issues I'm starting to doubt this whole digital thing. A box of analog photos, while harder to share, is a lot less likely to fail then a hard drive.
  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @03:03AM (#26100759) Homepage Journal

    Probably, yeah. In the worst case, though, the disc might have gotten finalized incorrectly (e.g. using a bad optical drive), in which case even the original DVD burner might not play it....

    The lead-in area (at least for the first session) is the innermost recordable portion of the media. If something went wrong in media fabrication, I'd expect that to be the second-most likely part to have problems, second only to the outer edge (which fails verification frequently in cheap media). So this could have been a media defect as well.

    I'm not surprised the Seagate folks were able to recover the data. This pales compared with what the Seagate recovery folks deal with every day--head crashes, surface mount desoldering and replacing defective head preamps, maybe even electron microscope recovery of shattered platters.... Compared with that, a few bad blocks in the lead-in of a DVD is downright trivial and might even be recoverable without hacking the drive firmware....

    That said, I sure would like to know who the two companies are that couldn't figure this out so I can never send anything to them.... :-)

  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @03:38AM (#26100923)
    I know with Drivesavers you pay an analysis fee upfront, if they can't recover anything they refund it, if they can they will apply it to your recovery bill, if you choose not to pay for recovery they keep the fee to pay for the techs time. This is completely fair in my eyes as just getting to that stage may have involved swapping controllers or moving platters to a new enclosure.
  • Re:eep (Score:3, Informative)

    by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @05:57AM (#26101409)

    Super VHS looks just as "quality" as any DVD.... I will even go so far as to say "better quality" since S-VHS doesn't have annoying compression blur, blocking, or mosquitos.

    I bought one of those fancy "digital" HDD cameras and almost immediately returned it, since the quality was actually worse than my old S-VHS camera.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.