The ability to burn legally downloaded movies to DVD came one step closer to reality Thursday, as a studio-approved system to prevent piracy was introduced. However, there are still obstacles preventing widespread usage.

Called Qflix, the technology was produced by digital media software company Sonic Solutions. Compatible drives, media, and video services will display the Qflix logo to allow consumers to identify who supports the new technology.

The technology that powers the Qflix system is called Content Scramble System (CSS) encryption. While CSS has already been used in pre-recorded DVDs today, content owners have been reluctant to allow it to be used publicly for fear of it being cracked.

Qflix will offer a secure way for this to be done at home, as well as allowing publishers to place restrictions on content, such as how many times they will allow a download to be burned to DVD.

Missing from Thursday’s announcement are any actual hardware or software announcements. Although disc drive manufacturer Plextor, along with several media manufacturers have announced their support for the initiative, none have announced consumer availability of products.

Instead, it appears that the first usage of the technology will be on the enterprise side of the market. A version of the technology called Qflix Pro will allow for the manufacture of DVDs at the time of order, opening up new possibilities for retailers, such as in-store kiosks.

At least one supporter of the technology, drug store chain Walgreens, is likely to use the technology for exactly that reason. By using kiosks rather than stocking large inventories of pre-recorded DVDs, retailers could save a lot of money, say backers of the format.

Jim Taylor, general manager of Sonic’s Advanced Technology Group, says that now is a perfect time to offer a solution like Qflix. “The floodgates of digital distribution are about to burst,” he argued.

“Qflix delivers this and opens many new channels for vast amounts of video programming such as TV shows, back-catalog movies, special interest programs, independent films, educational titles, and much, much more,” Taylor added. The movie studios have so-far praised Sonic’s efforts. “”We are pleased and encouraged to see efforts like Sonic’s creation of Qflix that address the need for industry-standard protection,” Warner Bros. Entertainment Chief Technology Officer Chris Cookson said.

By Ed Oswald, BetaNews