A few weeks ago, I mentioned a reference question from a patron who couldn't play a library DVD in her laptop.
The problem seemed to be that it was a purple DVD-R DVD, rather than a regular silvery shiny one, and it wouldn't play in her DVD-RW drive.
But more interesting was the note on the back:
Besides the "this disc is copy-protected" icon, the interesting part is the last line:
This disc is expected to play back in DVD video "play only" devices, and may not play back in other DVD devices, including recorders and PC drives.
I don't often read the fine print on DVD containers, but I have not seen this before.
Also, none of this would be surprising if it were the regular silver disc. The fact that it's the purple is what surprises me. After I posted this question, a reader (thanks Dot!) sent me a link explaining why DVD-Rs are purple - which makes it sound like whatever operation made the DVD the library purchased is based out of some guy's garage.
I'm sure that's not the case, and although I have not contacted the production company, my guess is that it's just a small-run video house that doesn't have the large expensive equipment. They probably produce DVDs using DVD-R disc and also put DRM on them to satisfy the studios, and then sell them retail through vendors that are also used by libraries. Probably all perfectly legal, but it's just unusual.
Anyway, since I had a copy of the DVD, I tried playing it in a variety of computers and with a variety of software - and for me, it played in every single case. Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 8, using Windows Media Player, VLC, and PowerDVD (obviously, Macs don't exist in my world).
As a result of this testing, it seems that the problem the patron was having is with her laptop. Another reader (thanks Plutia!) suggested it might be possible to change the settings for the laptop's DVD drive so that operates as a READ-ONLY device. I didn't try this, but if the patron continues to have trouble, I will suggest it.