Apple Licensing Fairplay to Fox?


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Businessweek asks whether Apple has quietly licensed its Fairplay DRM to Fox. Based on the late 2007 announcement that Fox DVDs would use Fairplay, this would be a reasonable assumption.

Fox's movies should then be capable of being ripped to iTunes, without having to resort to third-party tools. But Fairplay is one of Apple's 'crown jewels', and it hasn't let anyone else get their hands on it. But even if it is being licensed to the studios for DVD, this isn't the start of a wide-ranging strategy to make Fairplay a standard form of DRM (although, by default, it would become one, if it were included on the major studios' DVDs).

WMV and its associated DRM is the standard for HD-DVD, but Fox will, at this point simply have a .wmv encoded copy, as well as an H.264 version, of the movies on DVDs. Of course, this doesn't work with anything that comes out of Cupertino, be it iPod, iPhone or iTunes.

Regardless, Apple's movie and video strategy is going to be much clearer come next week. The DRM probably won't bother average consumers (as Fairplay on iTS tracks hasn't). It'll be the price that counts.