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Fox Plans First ‘PIP’ Blu-ray Disc

Los Angeles — Interactivity was a hot topic among Blu-ray Disc supporting studios during a Blu-ray Disc Fest for the press here Monday.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment disclosed it expects to be the first to launch a Blu-ray title with picture-in-picture interactivity enabled by Sun’s BD-Java platform, when it releases the Sci-Fi thriller “Sunshine” in January.

A number of players will be on the market that support the 1.1 specs that enable the picture-in-picture with audio capability, including 256MB of persistent memory. Sony’s PlayStation3 is expected to soon receive a firmware update to utilize the feature.

Fox demonstrated the picture-in-picture feature during the festival event at its studios here. The feature presents an inset video of the filmmakers discussing the production of the film in a video stream that runs along with the feature.

Several early Blu-ray players were not designed to support the 1.1 BD specs supporting picture-in-picture features. Players using the rival HD DVD format have offered picture-in-picture capability since launch.

All new Blu-ray players launched after Oct. 31 are mandated to support the 1.1 spec by the Blu-ray Disc Association.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has also disclosed it will offer picture-in-picture enabled releases next year, including “Finding Nemo” and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

In other news, Fox said its forthcoming two-disc special edition DVD release of “Die Hard 4” on Nov. 20 will include a “Digital Copy” version of the feature encoded in WMV format on the disc. Users will be invited to copy the file to their PCs and portable media players (PMPs), rather than ripping the film using illicit programs that break the copy protection system, or downloading them illegally off the Internet.

The WMV-encoded (760kbps bit rate) version of the film will play on most PMPs and will include digital rights management protection. The copying system works “really fast,” Fox said.

Users are not charged again for the second copy, in the first disc. Fox said there are “all kinds of ways” to prevent renters of Digital Copy discs from copying the file if they didn’t actually purchase the disc.

Users will be able to copy the movie from the disc to multiple devices using a special licensing key, but will not be able to produce multi-generational copies.

Executives said they hope that by inviting DVD purchasers to quickly and easily copy the WMV file of the movie they will encourage more disc sales and discourage illicit duplication of their copyrighted material.