Technology: Self-destruct videos save return trip

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A new Digital Video Disc that self destructs after two days could put an end to the trek back to the video shop to return a film. Specially- designed video machines will time the high-tech discs as soon as they start to play and the film comes on.

Once they reach the two-day limit, the disc automatically refuses to play and can be thrown away.

The American-based Digital Video Express consortium (Divx) wants to replace familiar video tapes with the limited-life discs, New Scientist reports this week. The two-day discs will cost less than pounds 3 - almost five times less than the Digital Video Discs which already exist. The new technology has been given a cautious welcome by the big film companies who fear it will be easy to make pirate copies of films from the discs. So, to protect them against the threat, the films will all be scrambled and a special code will be needed to access them.