CD album covers and cd jewel case inserts are those glossy pages that are found in the CD jewel case. This type of material can be found inserted in the top cover of the jewel case and/or underneath the holding tray. For slim jewel cases, the inserts are only found on the top part of the case.
Basically, there are three types of CD jewel case inserts. Audio CDs often come with booklets that contain a variety of information. The top of these booklets, which are readily visible, include some kind of album artwork and contain the artist and album names. This is similar to what was done with the LPs, some of which contained very interesting and extensive artwork. Inside of the booklet, a variety of information is presented in addition to the song list. There is no standard as to what type of information is included but it may be photos of the band, historical information of the band, song lyrics, artist profiles, background information on the songs, credits, acknowledgements, and more. The insert underneath the tray almost always contains the list of audio tracks on the disc.
The second type of CD album covers or CD jewel case inserts are found with recordable or erasable optical media. These jewel case covers are the manufacturer’s labeling and include the manufacturer’s name, type of disc, rated recording speed of the disc, disc recording capacity, and other marketing information.
The third type is an insert that you produce yourself to decorate and label or identify the jewel case that contains a disc with recorded information such as digital photos, digital videos, etc.
When it comes to the long term storage of CDs, DVDs, and other optical discs, is it a good idea to leave these DVD or CD jewel case covers in the case with the disc? As a general archival rule, it is not a good idea to store paper materials in with the media. This is especially true if the paper materials are poor quality acidic materials. The CD album covers are not acidic in nature but are alkaline. However, the DVD or CD jewel case inserts are very glossy and the long term effects of the inks and all the additives used to produce these glossy inserts is unknown. The ISO standard for the care and handling for extended storage of optical discs states the following:
For long-term disc storage, it is recommended to remove the label insert or booklet from inside the case and attach it to the outside. Paper can produce higher moisture content in the case, and many release harmful pollutants or in certain conditions adhere to the disc. These potentially harmful affects depend on relative humidity conditions and the insert material properties, as well as their proximity to the disc.
Therefore, because in most situations optical discs are not stored under ideal conditions and do experience higher temperatures and humidity levels than recommended, it is probably a good idea to follow the recommendations as outlined by the standard above. Note that there has been no evidence that the CD album covers do contribute to the degradation of audio CDs. For these one might consider leaving the material in the case, but only if the storage conditions are not hot and humid. However, recordable and erasable media are different in terms of their construction and the recording layers (dyes or phase change material) may be more sensitive to components being emitted from the inserts. For these recordable and erasable optical discs, it is recommended to remove all the manufacturer’s insert materials and to not place any of your own printed paper materials in the jewel case. Place your designed CD jewel case covers on the outside of the case for maximum safety.
If you must include jewel case covers in the case, then the CD-R with gold metal layer and phthalocyanine dye should be used. The inclusion of insert materials is not an issue with these discs because the disc components are very stable. The same can be said to a certain extent for the DVD-R disc that uses the gold metal layer.
Other optical disc storage resources: