Movielink, CinemaNow Deliver Digital Movies For Sale On Internet

Six major studios will begin selling digital movies on the Internet that consumers can legally download and keep through two online movie services.

April 4, 2006

3 Min Read
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Six major studios on Monday will begin selling digital movies on the Internet that consumers can legally download and keep through Movielink LLC and CinemaNow Inc., two online movie services. Until now, most movies have been limited to rentals.

Movielink said it signed download-to-own deals with six major studios and will let consumers choose from nearly 300 movies for download from its Web site, which until now has offered mostly online rentals.

Universal Studios said it will begin selling "Brokeback Mountain" on Tuesday through Movielink, with Sony Pictures' "Fun With Dick and Jane" to follow weeks later. "This is an important first step in a digital distribution system," said Kevin Tsujihara, president at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, during a press conference.

Movielink, owned by Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner; Sony Pictures; Universal; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM); and Paramount, a unit of Viacom, will offer movies from all owners and 20th Century Fox, held by News Corp.

CinemaNow unveiled similar licensing agreements with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Lionsgate Entertainment Corp., the studio behind this year's Oscar winner "Crash," all content protected with Microsoft Corp.'s digital rights management (DRM) software.Curt Marvis, CinemaNow chief executive officer, told TechWeb that CinemaNow has sold downloadable movies from little-known artists for the past year. Now it will offer "blockbuster" titles from major motion picture studios.

CinemaNow said it will start with 85 movies. New releases and old favorites will range from $9.95 to $19.95. Nearly 300 movies will go on sale beginning Monday through Movielink, which until now has offered online rentals for download.

Hollywood has mulled download sales for several years, but the studios have recently been spurred on by the success of television programs sold through Apple Computers Corp.'s iTunes Music Store.

One movie will require about 1 gigabyte of hard-drive space. With a high-speed internet connect will take up to two hours to download. Marvis said some files take as little as 20 to 30 minutes.

For now, the digital movies cannot be copied to Apple's iPod or other handheld devices.The movie files are saved in a Windows media format. "We want to offer a secure burn solution to other mediums as soon as possible," Marvis said. "We're exploring technologies and working with technology companies to provide that option."

CinemaNow will allow consumer to play movies on one computer. Movielink will allow consumers to copy movies onto a DVD and downloaded to two other computers, but not played on a conventional DVD player. "You also can stream the movie around the home," said Jim Ramo, Movielink chief executive officer.

Software from TwonkyVision GmbH, a company focused on networked audio and video software for the home, lets consumers turn a $90 Linksys network attached stores device from Cisco Systems Inc. that runs UNIX into a device file server, said programming consultant Bernie Dougherty.

Through his television, Dougherty can access several home-networked servers and the Internet, using a PC as the connection device.

"I plugged the Linksys network attacked storage device into a media server to provide access to movies, music and pictures from anywhere on my home network," he said. "Then I hooked in the Link Theater system from Buffalo Technology, which has a network attachment that recognizes the TwonkyVision server."Dougherty said Windows Media Center or media software from TwonkyVision or Buffalo turns the PC into a media server.

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