DVD Coated with Layer of Sticky Goo

I met a woman called Laura who turned out to be a film maker. She gave me a DVD of her 2017 film Hesperidies and last night I decided to watch it. I don’t have a TV or DVD player so I watch films on my iMac, and if it is a DVD I always rip it using an external DVD drive and HandBrake, the open source video transcoder. Then I can watch it from my hard drive. So I plugged in my DVD drive, opened the shrink wrapped DVD box, and inserted the DVD into the drive. That fired up HandBrake but when I tried to open the DVD it gave an error:

“libdvdcss.2.dylib” cannot be opened because the developer cannot be verified
macOS cannot verify that this app is free from malware
Safari.app downloaded this file on 4 February 2017

Libdvdcss is an open source library developed for accessing DVDs like a block device. For legal reasons libdvdcss is not part of the HandBrake installation so you have to install it separately in /usr/local/lib. The last time I used HandBrake was over a year ago and it worked fine, so clearly the problem was a macOS update which must have tightened up on security. Before attempting to fix the problem I installed the latest versions of HandBrake and libdvdcss and tried again but got the same error.

It turns out all I had to do was Control-click on the libdvdcss file in the Finder and then click on Open in the pop-up menu.That then allowed Handbrake to open it as required.

So now I was at last ready to rip the DVD, or so I thought. The initial scan seemed to be taking ages and the external drive was making rather strange noises. Eventually it seemed to work but when I looked at the resulting video file it was only about 15 minutes in length (the film runs for 45 minutes). Having only just opened the shrink wrap the disc should have been clean but I saw something that looked like a tiny blemish and I tried removing it with the cloth I use to clean my glasses. I was surprised that the surface of the disc seemed sticky and it now had a great ugly smear on it. At this point I started searching for reports of sticky discs and found a suggestion to try cleaning with warm soapy water. I did that and the sticky goo came off easily, leaving a nice smooth clean disc which then worked fine.

Since the film was released in 2017 the DVD can’t be more than about 3 years old. Was it already sticky when it was manufactured or did the layer develop over time due to a chemical reaction or something? Were all copies similarly affected? I don’t know but I will tell Laura about it when I see her and maybe do a bit more online research. By the time I got all this sorted out it was time for bed so I still haven’t watched the film.

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