Apple Inc. is planning to launch an online movie rental service by fall, although the company is meeting resistance from some Hollywood studios concerned about piracy, people familiar with the plan told The Associated Press on Monday.
Apple might try to launch the service sooner to coincide with the planned June 29 introduction of its iPhone, which will play video files, according to three people who requested anonymity because the talks are ongoing.
Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said the company "does not comment on rumor and speculation."
Apple already sells films from two major studios and a number of smaller companies. But it has not entered the online rental business, which so far has not been terribly profitable for companies such as Movielink and CinemaNow.
Several studios are reluctant to license films to Apple to rent because the company will not modify its software to make it recognize pirated content and prevent it from being transferred to an iPod or iPhone, according to the people familiar with the talks.
Those same reasons, plus objections to Apple's rigid pricing, have kept several studios, including Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric Co., Twentieth Century Fox, which is owned by News Corp., and Sony Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp. from selling its movies on iTunes.
Apple launched its online movie sales service last year with films from The Walt Disney Co.
Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs is Disney's largest shareholder and a board member. The two companies have a close relationship, with Disney being the first to sell TV shows on iTunes as well.
Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc., and a few other studios sells older titles on iTunes, as does Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.
Only Disney sells films on iTunes the same day the titles are released on DVD.