Since the launch of the iPod video and the addition of downloadable TV shows to the iTunes Music Store, there's been a lot of speculation about when and movies would get added to the mix. According to one Apple rumors site -- which has been sued by Apple for revealing secrets in the past -- at Apple's developer conference later this month, the company will announce that it will rent movies through iTunes (via Broadband Reports), using some sort of DRM to limit their playback to a certain time frame or number of playbacks. Without more details or pricing information, it's hard to feel that this will be all that successful. One major problem with other, struggling, movie-download sites is that they tie movies to a user's PC, and don't let them burn films to DVD so they can watch them on their TV. While one site, Movielink, says it's licensed some technology to allow users to burn movies to DVD, it still has to get studios to sign off on the idea -- something it doesn't sound like they're particularly interested in doing. The bigger issue with renting films through iTunes is that, apart from sounding like the digital equivalent of the oft-repeated self-destructing DVD ploy, just like with record labels, the studios' insistence on playback restrictions make Steve Jobs and Apple the main beneficiaries here. Assuming the movies will be delivered in the same format as the TV episodes iTunes sells, they're essentially limiting playback to iPod video owners -- a pretty narrow market. The service will be basically useless to anybody else, making this just another halfhearted attempt to embrace digital distribution, rather than something that stands much chance of widespread success.
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