Apple has been exploring 4K distribution and licensing Sony’s ultra HD content since back in 2013

by on June 19, 2015

Stephan Jukic – June 19, 2015

Despite its apparently hesitant stance on 4K content and ultra HD distribution, it seems that Apple has been secretly eyeing the technology for longer even than many other companies.

According to a recent document leak from the latest dump of information by WikiLeaks (PDF document) from the massive Sony Pictures hack, Apple Corporation has been testing and licensing 4K ultra HD videos from Sony’s giant library of content since all the way back in 2013, when 4K content was still in its very infancy.

The document in question, of which we have an image below, is signed by Eddie Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services and by Jim Underwood, the former CEO of Sony Pictures.

The letter itself was leaked by WikiLeaks in the wake of the recent Sony Pictures hack and comes from Sony’s Culver Distribution company which is located in Culver City, California, as part of the giant Sony Studios branch of the international electronics giant.

The document in question reveals that Apple requested licensing rights to a selection of 4K video content from Sony and was thus granted access to the content. Furthermore, as part of the agreement, Apple was allowed to use these materials for testing and “exhibition on a video-on-demand and digital home entertainment basis”. In other words, Apple couldn’t actually sell the Sony 4K video content via iTunes or any other medium but the company could test the Sony videos for experimentation in the streamed delivery of 4K media at some point down the line.

Notable points from the leaked contract can be seen in the image below:

Notable excerpts from the leaked Apple/Sony 4K content contract

Notable excerpts from the leaked Apple/Sony 4K content contract

So far, no other contract has emerged which shows that Apple had also purchased commercial distribution rights for any Sony 4K movies or video.

While nothing extraordinarily scandalous, the leaked document does show the interesting hidden operations of Apple, which in this case fly in the face of the company’s public behavior.

To date, Apple, despite being one of the world leaders in the manufacture of consumer display electronics and a leading distributor of digital entertainment content, has shown a surprisingly low level of interest in promoting 4K ultra HD entertainment and visual technology.

Of all the display products developed by Apple, only the relatively new 5K Retina iMac desktop computer offers an above-4K ultra HD display and the company’s streaming content platform Apple TV is still not configured for 4K content despite high hope among many fans that it will soon follow this track.

In fact, it was just recently revealed that the next generation of Apple TV specifically would not offer 4K content support, and this indicates that the same will also be the case for the iTunes store, at least for now.

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