At a time when internet movie piracy is apparently increasing sharply, a group of eight companies, including Warner Bros Studios and Walt Disney, are announcing plans to make available a content-management technology. The technology, called Advanced Access Content System or AACS, would allow consumers to copy prerecorded digital content, such as videos, and share it with networked and portable devices.

The AACS technology is being developed by the AACS LA to manage content stored on future generations of prerecorded and recordable optical media, the group says in a statement.

The technology will allow users to make authorized copies and share content, including high-definition video, with home-networked devices, including PCs and portable devices, it says.

The first products based on AACS will be available later this year, the statement says.

The statement did not reveal details of the technology or limitations that would be placed on content that is copied. However, it says that the ownership rights of the content would be protected by the new technology.

The AACS technology will be made available as a licensable specification later this year, the group said, adding that it is seeking industry feedback on the technology.

Additional information on AACS will be made available on the group's website during the next few days, it says.

Last week a survey conducted by the Motion Picture Association of America (of which both Warner Brothers and Walt Disney are prominent members) found that around a quarter of broadband users in the USA had downloaded pirated film from the internet. It is possible that the companies hope AACS, when it rolls out, will lead surfers away from illegal downloading.

In addition to Warner Bros and Walt Disney, the AACS LA also includes Sony, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Toshiba, and Matsushita Electric Industrial.