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The DVD (common abbreviation for Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc) is a digital optical disc data storage format invented and developed in 1995 and released in late 1996. The medium can store any kind of digital data and was widely used for software and other computer files as well as video programs watched using DVD players. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than compact discs while having the same dimensions.

Prerecorded DVDs are mass-produced using molding machines that physically stamp data onto the DVD. Such discs are a form of DVD-ROM because data can only be read and not written or erased. Blank recordable DVD discs (DVD-R and DVD+R) can be recorded once using a DVD recorder and then function as a DVD-ROM. Rewritable DVDs (DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM) can be recorded and erased many times.

DVDs are used in DVD-Video consumer digital video format and in DVD-Audio consumer digital audio format as well as for authoring DVD discs written in a special AVCHD format to hold high definition material (often in conjunction with AVCHD format camcorders). DVDs containing other types of information may be referred to as DVD data discs.

The DVD specifications created and updated by the DVD Forum are published as so-called DVD Books (e.g. DVD-ROM Book, DVD-Audio Book, DVD-Video Book, DVD-R Book, DVD-RW Book, DVD-RAM Book, DVD-AR (Audio Recording) Book, DVD-VR (Video Recording) Book, etc.). DVD discs are made up of two discs; normally one is blank, and the other contains data. Each disc is 0.6mm thick, and are glued together to form a DVD disc. The gluing process must be done carefully to make the disc as flat as possible to avoid both birefringence and "disc tilt", which is when the disc is not perfectly flat, preventing it from being read.

Some specifications for mechanical, physical and optical characteristics of DVD optical discs can be downloaded as freely available standards from the ISO website. There are also equivalent European Computer Manufacturers Association (Ecma) standards for some of these specifications, such as Ecma-267 for DVD-ROMs. Also, the DVD+RW Alliance publishes competing recordable DVD specifications such as DVD+R, DVD+R DL, DVD+RW or DVD+RW DL. These DVD formats are also ISO standards.

Some DVD specifications (e.g. for DVD-Video) are not publicly available and can be obtained only from the DVD Format/Logo Licensing Corporation (DVD FLLC) for a fee of US$5000. Every subscriber must sign a non-disclosure agreement as certain information on the DVD Books is proprietary and confidential. Additionally the DVD6C patent pool holds patents used by DVD drives and discs.

The capacity of DVDs is conventionally stated in gigabytes (GB), with the decimal definition of this term such that 1 GB = 109 bytes.

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