Hollywood's answer to burning ambitions

A DVD

KAI RYSSDAL: Get yourself a tub of popcorn. Your beverage of choice. Settle into a nice cozy office chair and spend two hours in front of your computer.

Not exactly the ideal recipe for movie watching, is it? But right now that's the only way you can watch a film you've downloaded: on your PC.

Hollywood can sympathize, and it can count the possible revenue from downloads, too, if they're easier to watch. So studios are backing new technology that will let you copy movies onto a DVD — within reason. Janet Babin reports from the Marketplace Innovations Desk at North Carolina Public Radio


JANET BABIN: It's pretty much a given that you can take your downloaded music and burn it to a CD so you can hear it where you want. Consumers wish it were so with movies. Instead, only a limited number of titles are available for download, through a service called CinemaNow. And some users report that playback can be problematic.

The Hollywood studios fear widespread piracy. They don't want everyone burning movies and sharing them with their friends.

But this new technology from software company Sonic Solutions uses a copy protection system that only allows DVDs to be burned once.

Tim Hogan is with Sonic Solutions.

TIM HOGAN: This has really been the missing link required to make high-quality premium content available on demand. We expect that consumers will get more choices, better movies than ever before.

And not just from your computer. Say you want an obscure title not available at a mainstream store. Retailers could use the system to burn the film you want in about 15 minutes.

Professor James McQuivey at Boston University says the new technology could not come at a better time for the ailing movie industry:

JAMES MCQUIVEY: Experts are expecting that DVD sales will actually decline this year, for the first time in DVD history, so they really need a boost to movie sales, and the ability for people to download and burn is probably going to be their savior.

But to use the new technology, most consumers will have to upgrade their DVD burners, or buy a new one.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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