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IBM Seeks Patent For Ad-Supported DVDs

Since most people buy or rent DVDs expecting to see the movie without commercial interruptions, it's unclear whether such a disk would be popular with consumers.
IBM is seeking to patent a method for making DVDs that could be played with or without commercials.

IBM filed the patent application number 20070201829 on Feb. 21, 2006. The application appears to have originated from IBM's Austin, Texas, research facility. The inventors are Atul D. Patel and Herman Rodriguez.

IBM declined comment on Monday, but according to the patent application the company's invention would determine whether a buyer of a DVD would see commercials, or get to see the movie or other content without interruptions. To make that determination, a "certificate" on the DVD would be consulted when the disk was played in a computer or DVD player.

"If the certificates provide for commercial interruptions, then commercials can be obtained from an online service that renders commercials on demand, or from the DVD itself," the application said. "In such a case, the content of the DVD may be interspersed with commercials."

Since most people buy or rent DVDs expecting to see the movie without commercial interruptions, it's unclear whether such a disk would be popular with consumers, even if the DVDs were available at a reduced cost. Nevertheless, with more consumer electronic devices being sold with broadband connections, the delivery of up-to-date commercials via the Web is technologically feasible.

DVD sales accounted for 44% of worldwide revenue for Hollywood studios in 2006, according to the Entertainment Merchants Association. That revenue, however, is being threatened by increasing use of digital video recorders with Internet connections and large storage devices for downloading movies.

There are about 30 million digital video recorders in the United States, according to The Carmel Group. That number is expected to surpass 52 million, or 46% of U.S. TV households, by the end of 2010.