Friday, October 29, 2004

DVD Rot

"The first issue is 'DVD rot,' a term derived from problems with laser discs and now applied to problems with pressed discs when Hollywood movie DVDs become unplayable, either as the video starts to break up during playback due to corrosion in the disc, or the disc itself even begins to physically split apart due to delamination of the bonded layers.

Beyond the online discussion groups, this issue was highlighted by The Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald, in a widely linked article from February 1, 2003 (www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/01/31/1043804519345.html). The Herald reported that some DVD movies 'are already starting to rot while others are falling apart.' The article states that 'unofficial estimates put the number of affected discs at between one and 10 per cent.' It then characterizes the industry response by reporting that 'some of the largest distributors for Hollywood Studios are accused of refusing to accept the problem exists and replace faulty products.'

Web sites now collect lists of Hollywood movie titles reportedly known to have problems. Other frequently-linked sites carry photographs of cloudy regions that have grown along the edges of discs, and even electron microscope images of 'spots' that appear to be associated with playback failures across the layer break of dual-layer DVD-9 discs. The DVD industry has clearly not responded effectively to these reorts and concerns.

The second issue is the reliability of recordable DVD discs as an archival media, either for write-once recordable (R) or rewritable (RW) formats. Can we really trust that we can save our digital files for decades on DVD discs? Or, if we use them constantly in applications like kiosk displays, is it possible for them to effectively burn out from constantly being read by a laser beam?

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