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HBO agrees to allow Universal, Fox movies on Apple's iCloud

Premium cable network HBO has agreed to relax its terms from contracts with Universal and Fox and allow the studios to make their movies available for download on Apple's iCloud.

Last week, Apple began offering users the ability to re-download movies that were previously purchased on iTunes via its iCloud service. But major studios Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox were noticeably absent because of a prior arrangement with HBO.

HBO, however, has agreed to loosen its agreements with Universal and Fox, which will allow their movies to become available on iCloud, according to The Wall Street Journal. The cable network has already revised its terms with Warner Bros., and its content is already available for users on iCloud.

Though it will allow the content to be re-downloaded through iCloud, HBO will not give up its exclusive rights to broadcast movies during a "window" after the film is released. The window is typically about six months after a movie is released on DVD, and lasts about a year.

Under the current terms, if Universal and Fox were to allow an iCloud user who purchased a movie through iTunes to re-download and watch it on a device like an iPhone or iPad, it would be in violation of HBO's exclusive rights.

But a spokesman for HBO confirmed that HBO will agree to allow users of iCloud, as well as other services, to download movies they already own on other devices. With iCloud, a user can re-download a movie, TV show or song to a device like an iPhone or iPad without re-syncing it to a Mac or PC and transferring the copyrighted file that was originally downloaded.

"Fox expects to resolve the issue as soon as within weeks, said a person familiar with the situation," the Journal reported. "Another person is familiar with the matter said Universal is near a resolution."

The iTunes in the Cloud functionality within iCloud originally only applied to music, books and applications purchased through the iTunes Store. Now, users can access both movies and TV shows as well. The service even applies to the iTunes Digital Copy format, which gives users the ability to download a digital version of a film when they buy a DVD or Blu-ray disc.