Apple seeds online movie service

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NEW YORK -- Apple Inc. is considering launching an online film rental service and is in "advanced talks" with major Hollywood studios about this initiative, according to a report Monday in the Financial Times.

The newspaper said that movies would cost $2.99 for a 30-day rental. The digital rights management, or DRM, technology embedded in the films will allow them to be moved from a computer to another device, such as an iPod or an iPhone, but will not permit copying.

Apple already has payable download deals for films from the Walt Disney Co. and Viacom Inc.'s Paramount. Observers on Monday suggested that these two would likely also be open to the new offer. The FT said, however, that NBC Universal and others seem more reserved about the proposal.

However, the latest service idea would see the company competing with cable and satellite TV operators, such as Comcast Corp. and DirecTV Group, for market share in the VOD category. Microsoft's Xbox Live and Amazon.com Inc. and TiVo's Unbox also offer VOD films.

The service is expected to be released in the fall, said the Financial Times. Apple was not available for comment Monday.

In related news, CinemaNow Inc., an online destination for downloadable films and TV shows, announced Monday that it would be selling music videos from Warner Music Group artists on its re-launched WatchMusicHere.com.

Through July 21, about 1,600 music videos from WMG artists will be available on the service, the partners said. After that date, additional Warner content will be released along with videos from other major record labels at $1.99 each.

WatchMusicHere.com was launched in 2005 with more limited content.
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