Movie Studios Seeking Usage Right Restrictions?

According to the Financial Times, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Paramount and Warner Bros, who are all reported to be in talks with Apple to bring their movie collections to the iTunes store, are pressuring Apple to reduce the number of devices movie content from iTunes would be able to play on (namely, iPods).

The studios want to avoid the experience of the music industry, which has yet to recover from years of illegal digital piracy. Apple must introduce a new model for feature film content delivery, said one studio executive involved in the talks. With the average cost of a blockbuster film approaching $100m, movie studios had more to lose than music companies, he added. Were very willing to do a deal but were keen to get some concessions from Apple that will account for the differences between the value of music and television content and feature film content.

Currently, Apple's usage rights allow downloadable content to be played on an unlimited number of iPods as well as up to 5 computers, although DVD burning is limited to archiving purposes only (DVD-Video burning is not supported).

Disney sold 125,000 movies in its first week of operation on the iTunes store. While still small in comparison to DVD sales, Disney expects digital sales to add $50 million in revenue to its bottom line in the first year on the iTunes Store. The continued success of movie sales may make arguments for restricted usage rights fall on deaf ears to Apple executives, who would view such arguments as nit-picking a successful program.

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