Movie studios have given their backing to a new standard in copyright protection for the copying of DVDs by retailers. But they have stopped short of agreeing to make it available to the public.

Qflix offers the same level of protection as shelf-bought DVDs and will allow retailers to copy DVDs in store, saving space.

It uses what's called a content scrambling system, a feature supported by current DVD players. The agreed standard has been created by Sonic Solutions , makers of DVD burning software.

In the past, movie studios have been unwilling to allow their content to be downloaded legally for fear of illegal distribution. Many studios have been unhappy with previously proposed copyright protection methods.

It's reported, however, that some current legal US movie download services, such as CinemaNow , will not be allowed to use Qflix. It will only be available to specific download kiosk services and its computers.

We hope, however, it leads to a home computer version, which in turn could help to counteract causal internet movie piracy.