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Fox, Warner want secure, high-def film players

The studios want to deliver movies in their highest quality but fear the potential for piracy. A new consortium seeks to build safe storage devices.

Hollywood hasn't given up trying to persuade consumers to buy and collect movies or on digital rights management.

Greg Sandoval/CNET

Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox are partnering with Sandisk and Western Digital to develop antipiracy devices in an effort to secure 1080p high-definition movies once they're in the wild.

The companies announced today that they have formed a new consortium called Secure Content Storage Association (SCSA). The group will create the standards which they hope will be adopted by makers of Blu-ray players, tablets, and smart TVs. As of yet, the SCSA doesn't have a device to show us but is working to launch a product later this year, according to a Warner spokesman.

Some of the Hollywood studios are skittish about distributing high-definition movies over the Internet. They're looking for a way to protect their material while also giving buyers the freedom to move their high-definition movies around.

The major obstacle to all this is that streaming services such as Netflix already enable me to access movies from wherever I can connect to the Web. And I don't have to buy them. I don't have to load them onto anything. Wherever I can access the Internet, I can get to the movies that Netflix offers.

Ah, but for the discriminating movie fan, Netflix's films aren't available in high enough quality. What about viewing on airplanes, cars, and trains? For people who prefer owning movies--say, parents who need films to distract the kids on long trips--this is a way to store and protect flicks in their highest-quality format.

I don't know how big that mommy market is or how big the one is for film aficionados. I do know that the major studios are trying to breath life into their rapidly declining home video market.

Studio execs know any offer will fail that limits buyers from doing what they want with their media. For this plan to work, the DRM must be invisible to all consumers who aren't trying to crack the copy protections.

That means this consortium would have to get a lot of hardware manufacturers on board to allow people to move films to a wide range of devices.