Tuesday, 9 March 2010


We bought a DVD the other day.

Solveig was in Sainsbury's and saw Thomas And The Magic Railroad* was on offer for four quid, so she picked one up for the kids. Upon arrival, she (or more probably Theo) popped it into the DVD player and pressed PLAY. Nothing happened. She ejected it, blew off any dust and had another go. Nowt. Just the dreaded "Loading..." icon in the top right corner of the screen. Cue disappointed kids and the return of Peppa Pig to our screens.

We took it back and exchanged it, assuming the disc was faulty in some way. But the replacement was exactly the same, refusing even to load the disc, let alone actually play. Short of believing there was a batch of discs with a manufacturing defect, I was curious to see if the disc would work in a computer drive, rather than our standard domestic DVD player. So I popped it into a laptop and it worked fine. No other DVDs have ever failed to work in the normal player. Weird.

Figuring that making a copy of something that doesn't actually work wouldn't really be breaking any laws, I set to with ripping it. Obviously it has the latest copy protection; not a massive problem, there are ways and means. Less than an hour later, we have a working copy of the film which runs perfectly in the DVD player and the kids are happy.

But what kind of industry cripples its media so much that a standard domestic player cannot even read it? And isn't that now the opposite of the problem we used to have with CDs, whereby copy-protected discs wouldn't play in PC data drives but were fine in regular audio CD players?

Somebody somewhere needs to have a damned good think...

* dreadful Americanised 'Polar Express'-lite set on Sodor - don't bother :)


  1. I have exactly the same issue - am a member of Lovefilm and have lost count of number of times I've been sent DVDs that either won't play in DVD player or stop halfway through, but then work fine on laptop, even though they're correct region etc for player. Especially annoying as laptop screen is small and not ideal at all for watcihng films ono.

  2. we've not had this problem with our new dvd player although it was a fairly regular feature of our old one, purchased about 10 years ago.

  3. I don't want to sound paranoid, but you should check your laptop for spyware. Remember the Sony rootkit scandal? Could it be possible that the disk was only intended to play on a DVD drive with access to an OS on which it's relatively easy to execute arbitrary code?

  4. Hmm, interesting - thanks people.

    Dazzla - yes, you sound paranoid :)

  5. Hah. Well at least I have a DVD player made in this century ;)

  6. Ours is a Toshiba, purchased in late-2008.


  7. To be honest... you've been saved by your DVD player not recognising the disc. That truly is an awful film - I've had to sit through it many times when my kids were younger.