A moratorium in the home entertainment business refers to the practice of suspending the sales of films on home video DVD, VHS, and Blu-ray and boxed sets after a certain period of time. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment practices moratorium more than any other production company, often with releases of classic animated films in the Disney catalogue.
Disney was the first studio that put its films on moratorium. In 2002, Universal Pictures used this practice with the release of the Back to the Future DVD boxed set. George Lucas also used this practice with the Star Wars trilogy DVD boxed set. However, the moratorium was lifted on Back to the Future in 2009 before the release of the 25th anniversary Blu-ray set and on Star Wars, once Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith was released to theatres on May 19, 2005. Disney itself states that the practice of moratorium is done to both control their market and to allow Disney films to be fresh for new generations of young children.
The practice of moratorium has been frowned upon by consumers because it forces higher sale prices. A normal DVD that is sold under moratorium can sell at retail for a very high price relative to the general run of DVDs. However, prices are known to drop near the end of the issue. In the past, a moratorium created urgency for people interested in a film to obtain it before it became unavailable. A side effect of the moratorium process is the fact that videos and DVDs of films, once they are placed on moratorium, become collector's items. Additional unintended side-effects to the practice of moratorium has made films a prime target for on-line video-sharing site distribution and the proliferation of counterfeit DVD manufacturing.