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Has Dual Disc Run Into Problems? Print E-mail
Thursday, 12 August 2004
The Los Angeles Times is reporting some legal snags for the CD/DVD Dual Disc format even before it is released. In an article that was recently posted on the Times’ website said that Philips, who owns much of the intellectual property behind the Compact Disc and licenses the CD logo, wouldn’t let Dual Disc use the CD logo because it didn’t fit into the CD spec. Another angry party is the German firm that created the first Dual Disc. According to the Times, DVD Plus is claiming WEA has breeched their contract which has allowed the record conglomerate to continue to develop the two sided audio-video disc. Legal problems are nothing new to the music business, however, worries about anti-trust laws also complicate the development of any new audio format. A source who asked to remain anonymous tells Audio Video Revolution that an anti-trust lawyer sits in on every phone call and meeting the major labels have about the new audio format. Labels are so frightened of legal action that they have been advised to not tell the other labels which titles they will be releasing. This kind of legally inspired secrecy makes it somewhat difficult to create a big launch for the disc that is supposed to replace the once mighty Compact Disc.

Dual Disc could be an interesting solution to the value proposition problem the record industry has been struggling with for years now. Younger music consumers want video content for their $16 investment. An easier solution to the Dual Disc problem could be achieved by stealing a move from the movie industry and making every “album” purchased a two disc set. One disc would be a CD complete with MP3s professionally recorded and ready to rip to storage devices. The second disc could be a DVD-Audio disc that includes surround mixes for both DVD-Video and DVD-Audio players along with high resolution stereo tracks (DTS 24-96 for example) and other video goodies. This two disc solution which is found on top DVD-Video movie releases like Shrek (which has two discs: one for the 4:3 and one for the anamorphic version) has three big advantages over Dual Disc. First, the DVD-Audio disc could be a “DVD 9” disc which is capable of much more storage but is thicker than the smaller “DVD 5” disc that is used on a Dual Disc. This allows many more goodies and far fewer compromises in the added values of a disc. Secondly, both CDs and DVD-Audio discs can be mastered and pressed in large volumes. Who knows how many Dual Discs can be created at this point? It is an entirely new format. Lastly, the record buying public gets two for one. American consumers love that and the labels need to make the record buying public feel like buying discs is once again a good idea, especially during the Holiday shopping season.

Bundling DVDs with CDs has in fact been successful in recent years. Adding DVD-Audio discs loaded with goodies might make the recording buying public buy even more discs considering the value for a $16 disc keeps getting better and better.

The biggest hurdle for the labels to overcome is fear. Fear of lawsuits. Fear of new technologies. Fear of new business models. Fear of abandoning formats that don’t sell. Now is the time for all of the majors to step up and vigorously promote a format that is new and exciting. Hopefully, the new snags can be smoothed over in time for a winter release of the format in a way that populates the CD bins of your local record store and on-line retailer with a video and surround sound oriented new format.

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