The practice is the modern version of Disney's practice of re-releasing its animated films in theaters every seven years, which began with the reissue of 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1944. When VHS eroded the market for theatrical reissues by the early 1990s, Disney shifted its moratorium practices towards home video releases. Typically, a major Disney animated film is released on video or DVD for a pre-established amount of time, ranging from sixty days (the first Disney DVD releases in 1999) to several years.
During the 1980s and 1990s, when the home video market was dominated by VHS systems, Disney films would be reissued every seven years, a time gap equal to that of their theatrical reissues. With the transition to DVD technology, the moratorium period was increased to up to ten years.
The Walt Disney Company itself states that this process is done to both control their market and to allow Disney films to be fresh for new generations of young children. A side effect of the moratorium process is the fact that videos and DVDs of Disney films placed on moratorium become collector's items, sold in stores and at auction websites such as eBay for sums in excess of their original suggested retail price. Disney's live-action films, Disney films that are produced by the Pixar studio, and films released by Disney's other film divisions/labels (Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax Films) are not held to this rule, generally only being discontinued when a newer edition is released.