Disney will start selling DVDs that self-destruct. Exposure to oxygen will render the DVDs unplayable after 48 hours.

I betcha they wish they’d done that when video tapes first appeared.

I wonder how these will play out in the marketplace. This scheme alone won’t prevent duplication, of course, but I don’t believe that was ever Disney’s primary concern (they’re worried about controlling how and when we view what they consider their property). The DVDs are being sold as “rentals,” so consumers won’t expect long-term access. Never mind that 48 hours is not long enough. If the DVDs are cheap enough, people might not honestly care about the time limit — unless the DVDs don’t play at all, which is bound to be the case on some “unapproved” hardware like computers (viz. Macs, as we saw with copy-protected CDs).

Unfortunately, I don’t expect this to completely backfire on Disney. If public reaction is poor, they can either quietly retire the idea or continue to put such a spin on it that it’s eventually accepted. I mean, the RIAA and MPAA have successfully done this with filesharing, haven’t they?