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A French company has developed a disposable DVD, or DVD-D, which self-destructs after a few hours. Like the classic DVD, DVD-D is made of polycarbonate, but it contains an extra layer of coating that reacts to an oxidisation process which begins as soon as the disc is exposed to air. The self-destruct process can be pre-set to occur between eight and 24 hours.

It is not the world's first suicidal DVD. Last year, Flexplay Technologies, based in New York, announced a DVD with a 48-hour viewing window. Like the DVD-D, a Flexplay-enabled DVD works in all players, DVD drives and gaming systems designed to accept a standard DVD. The makers of the DVD-D claim their product is much cheaper to produce. The company also says there are no ways to repair the disc after the weathering process has made it unreadable. Solutions to repair the disc would be extremely complex.

Both DVD-D and EZ-D target the home entertainment rental market. The products would give consumers easy access to recently released titles, both movies and music, without worrying about returns, late fees or scratched discs.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment last year released some products on EZ-D - the first movie to be available on DVD-D will be Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions, which won two prizes in Cannes 2003 and the 2004 Oscar of the Best foreign film. Seven hundred other movies will also soon be available on DVD-D.

Despite the growing interest from big film studios, disposable DVDs haven't been much of a success. According to some reports, demand for EZ-D has fallen completely flat, and the retail chains carrying the discs have decided to stop stocking the format. ®

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