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Apple and News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox have reportedly entered a deal under which Apple would rent Fox movies through its iTunes store.
The agreement, reported first by The Financial Times and later by The Wall Street Journal, would launch Apple into the online movie rental business. The company has been trying for months to convince studios to offer movies for rent on iTunes, according to the Journal.
The computer and gadget maker sells movies for people to keep from Disney, Viacom's Paramount, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Lionsgate. Disney, however, is the only studio to sell new releases. Apple chief executive Steve Jobs is a board member and major shareholder of Disney.
In addition to the rental deal, Fox also has agreed to release movie DVDs using Apple's digital rights management technology, according to the Times. The copyright-protection software would make it possible for people to copy a DVD to an Apple iPod or other devices, such as a computer.
The Fox deal would be important for Apple because it could help the company boost iTunes movie sales, which have failed to match music sales on the online store. Improving movie sales could help in sales of Apple TV, which also have lagged. Apple TV works as an intermediary in taking video streamed wirelessly from a Mac and playing it on a digital TV.
The Fox deal is likely to be announced at Apple's Macworld conference Jan. 14 in San Francisco, the Times said.
Investor interest in Apple has been rising steadily for some time. Apple stock on Wednesday hit the $200 mark for the first time.