The film studios are reportedy
backing a new DVD format
that will allow shops to compete better with online retailers by selling a far wider selection of films.
by the DVD Copy Control Association (DVD CCA) last August, the new "DVD Download" format features the CSS (Content Scramble System) copyright-protection software that will allow stores to burn any one of thousands of movies on to special DVD discs while customers wait.
The format is expected to allow stores to exploit the "long tail
of video content beyond bestsellers.
Online retailers had this market to themselves until now, selling less popular titles from their warehouses or through digital downloads.
Shops only have room for a few hundred top-selling titles on their shelves but DVD Download kiosks being introduced this year will be able to access thousands of digitised movies, burn them to disks and print labels and covers. In addition, consumers will obtain, for example, unusual, historical or special content that is now unavailable on DVD because existing demand does not warrant the mass reproduction today's market requires.
The service is expected to prevent illegal copying of the disks
by utilising the same content protection system already used on pre-recorded DVDs. This is being incorporated into the new standard, known as DVD-R for CSS Managed Recording, or "DVD Download", according to its new logo.
The format received final approval last week from the DVD Forum, a standards body with more than 200 hardware, software and media companies as members including Columbia, Sony, Universal, Walt Disney and Warner Brothers.
Sonic Solutions introduced a licensing and certification programme last month for its Qflix technology
, which provides the tools for media companies and retailers to take advantage of the new standard. It is working with the Walgreens store chain and kiosk providers Lucidiom, MOD Systems, Polar Frog Digital, TitleMatch and YesVideo.
Time Warner is planning to launch a download-and-burn service this year and is digitising and preparing its library of more than 6,000 films, according to a Financial Times report.
"In the next three to four years, we expect 15-20 per cent of DVDs will become on-demand rather than being displayed on retailers' shelves," said Mark Ely, Sonic?s head of corporate strategy.