A film industry group is set to remove some of the procedural hurdles that prevented the legal recording of movies onto blank DVDs in a further sign that Hollywood studios are preparing to expand what consumers can do with downloadable movies.
Under rule changes expected to be finalized soon by the DVD Copy Control Association, retailers could create movie jukebox kiosks with which customers can select, say, an obscure title and burn it to a DVD on the spot.
Online merchants, like Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Music Store, could start to allow video downloads to be transferred onto DVDs.
The impending technical and policy changes involve the copy group's proprietary technology known as the Content Scramble System, or CSS. The association, an arm of Hollywood studios, licenses the encryption technology to makers of DVD players and other electronics companies and applies it widely to movies on DVDs to restrict illegal copying.
The association said it will soon expand licensing to movies that are digitally distributed on demand or a la carte — and not just for movies that are mass produced on DVDs.
The group also is working with disc makers to produce CSS-compatible blank DVDs.
Hollywood studios have been experimenting more with digital distribution. But until recently, they have been reluctant to allow consumers to transfer online purchases onto DVDs, limiting playback largely to computers or entertainment systems that are linked to a computer network.
Last month, online movie service CinemaNow became the first to allow customers to transfer mainstream films onto DVDs using an alternative encryption method, but users complain the movies sometimes can't be played on standard DVD players.
That problem should disappear when CSS is available for digital downloads, said Jim Taylor, a general manager at digital video software company Sonic Solutions.
"It'll open the floodgates for a lot more premium content to be burned onto DVD," Taylor said of the changes.
Sonic has already teamed with online movie provider Movielink to provide burn-to-DVD offerings that will be CSS-compatible.