Why do Blu-ray discs become unreadable and how do you fix this problem?


Mis à jour le 4 March 2019.

You’ve made popcorn in preparation for your movie night but just as you go to watch your favorite Blu-ray film, a problem arises: the player displays an error message that says “Unknown” or “Cannot read the disc”. This has been a well-known problem for a number of years now; some Blu-ray discs and DVDs become unreadable over time, even when you’ve always handled them carefully and stored them properly. Unfortunately, all of this care will have been for nothing as the problem is due to a technical error in one of the early stages of the production process. The culprit: a manufacturer of the resin used in the second layer of Blu-ray discs who, for several years, sold tainted resin, causing the discs to deteriorate prematurely. Here is a detailed explanation of how this anomaly impacts Blu-ray discs, how many discs are concerned and how to do a backup of your Blu-ray movies to avoid losing them.

Tainted resin causes the discs to deteriorate prematurely.

Why do Blu-ray discs become unreadable?

At first, only a dozen or so Blu-ray discs were affected, mostly TF1 Vidéo, M6 Vidéo, Gaumont, Fox Pathé Europa and Wild Side editions pressed in the French QOL factory. The company published a press release stating that the problem was caused by a batch of tainted resin used between June 2008 and June 2009 when adding the second layer to the Blu-ray discs. This layer begins to oxidize and peel, altering the disc over time, eventually making it unreadable. Not all of the discs pressed by QOL during this time period are affected, but the company wasn’t the only one to use this resin and several other editors specialized in Blu-ray discs, such as Metropolitan or Arvato, worked with the aforementioned factory without knowing about the issue up until 2011. As a result, the short list of defective Blu-ray movies grew very quickly. This list now includes no less than 295 references and gets longer every day.

Even discs purchased after 2011 can be affected. Many discs are sold several years after their original release. Worse still, the date that can be found on the case of Blu-ray discs doesn’t necessarily relate to the date of production. A disc pressed in 2009 can be repackaged and sold later, in a box set or as a limited edition, with the date of the packaging indicated, not the date when the disc was made. Here are some of the defective Blu-ray discs that are officially recognized by QOL and the other editors:

  • 30 Days of Night
  • Seven Years in Tibet
  • Asterix at the Olympic Games
  • Casino
  • The Fifth Element
  • Paris 36
  • Go Fast
  • Gomorrah
  • Hulk
  • Johnny Mad Dog
  • Léon: The Professional
  • Les Brigade du Tigre
  • Female Agents
  • The Crimson Rivers
  • Outlander
  • Pirates
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • Secret Défense
  • Séraphine
  • Sin City
  • The Fountain
  • Transporter 3
  • The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

The full list of unreadable Blu-ray discs can be found on www.bluraydefectueux.com (go to http://bluraydefectueux.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=375 for the English version). As mentioned above, there have been multiple presses for each movie and oxidation isn’t present on all discs, but if you own one of these movies and you haven’t watched it in a while, you may want to check it for any signs of deterioration. Common symptoms are a brown ring and staining around the center, as well as drops of varnish on the outside of the disc. It is also a good idea to play the disc and go through all of the chapters and bonus material to check each layer of the Blu-ray.

Play the disc and go through all of the chapters and bonus material to check each layer.

What to do if a Blu-ray disc is unreadable

Blu-ray discs that are officially recognized as defective by QOL, Metropolitan and ARVATO can be exchanged (more or less easily). The disc in question must be sent off so that it can be examined and validated by the presser as being impacted by the oxidation of the resin. QOL has set up a toll-free number to provide assistance for those affected by the problem:
+33 800 73 69 50.

However, you shouldn’t rush to send your disc away to be verified, as a Blu-ray disc can be unreadable for countless reasons other than a manufacturing defect. For example, the disc could be dirty or scratched, or it could be encrypted and therefore impossible to read on some Blu-ray players. Consequently, a disc can only be declared unreadable due to a manufacturing defect if the problem has occurred with at least two Blu-ray players, each featuring the latest updates.

How to save Blu-ray discs

A collection of movies, concerts and documentaries can easily reach several hundred discs, sometimes with films that will never be re-released. If one of these discs were to become damaged, it would be a big cultural and financial loss. Therefore, to avoid any loss, it is recommended to always do a backup of your DVDs and Blu-rays on a hard drive using a dedicated device. The current reference on the market is the Zappiti RIP 4K HDR NAS. Working alongside the Zappiti media players, the Zappiti RIP 4K HDR NAS is an automated solution which may be used to read and rip DVDs, Blu-rays, 3D Blu-rays, UHD 4K Blu-rays and UHD 4K HDR Blu-rays. With its 8 SATA bays and Zappiti Server operating system to index movies, the Zappiti RIP 4K HDR NAS can hold up to 120 000 CDs, 12 000 DVDs, 2 000 Blu-rays or 1000 UHD 4K Blu-rays. An additional storage system can be added for large media collections. The Blu-rays are then accessible via any Zappiti device connected to the home network and offer the same sound and picture quality as the original discs.

The Zappiti RIP 4K HDR NAS can rip CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, 3D Blu-rays, UHD Blu-rays and UHD 4K Blu-rays for storage on a hard drive.

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