Warner Bros. to sell movies and TV shows via BitTorrent

“Warner Bros.’s video unit on Tuesday unveiled plans to sell movies and television shows to BitTorrent Inc. for legal downloads from the Web site that was once blamed for aiding the swapping of illegally copied films and programs. The pact marks a big step for Hollywood as it increasingly makes digital files of movies and TV shows available on the Web because until last year, BitTorrent’s software and Web site were considered to be aiding piracy of major studio films,” Bob Tourtellotte reports for Reuters.

“But in November, BitTorrent agreed with the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents Hollywood’s major studios, to help stem illegal swapping of digital movies and TV shows by removing links to pirated copies,” Tourtellotte reports. “Executives from Warner Bros. and BitTorrent said the MPAA pact and new digital rights management (DRM) software from BitTorrent were key elements in bringing the parties together.”

“Starting this summer, Warner Bros., a unit of No. 1 media company Time Warner Inc., will make more than 200 films including blockbusters such as ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ and TV shows like ‘Babylon 5’ available at BitTorrent.com. The content will be available on the same day and date they are put on sale in retail stores, but cannot be copied and burned onto a DVD. They must reside on a computer drive. [Bold emphasis added by MacDailyNews] BitTorrent will charge customers, and while final prices have not been set, the company expects TV shows to be priced comparably to the current rate of $1 per episode on other Web sites and movies to be around the price of a new DVD,” Tourtellotte reports.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Jarvis” for the heads up.]

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  1. This sounds interesting…but some “little” details that make all the difference remain:
    – can they be played on an iPod? (probably not)
    – can they be viewed on a TV? (not unless it is directly connected to the computer)

    These are the only way I am interested in watching movies. If I’m at my house, I want to watch my TV. If I’m not, I want to watch my iPod.

    No thanks, guess I’ll keep ripping DVDs.

  2. screw the iPod. What’s the quality of the movies/TV shows? If the movies aren’t at least DVD quality, forget it. And, yeah, they should be able to be played on a TV.

    But the whole BitTorrent concept for delivery is really interesting.

  3. so it cannot be burned onto dvd as a movie file..but what about as a data file for backup?
    Just cannot see buying these movies for them to remain on the HD..basically preventing me from upgrading OSX ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  4. “so it cannot be burned onto dvd as a movie file..but what about as a data file for backup?”

    Can you do this with video purchased from ITMS? I was under the impression that you couldn’t. That’s my main reason for not yet buying any video from any online service. Seems the studios are so scared of piracy that it’s all still too inconvenient for the viewing public.

  5. Looks like the big moview studios are watching the record companies and trying to do the exact opposite.

    Apple convinced the record companies to join iTunes. Now, iTunes’ success has given Apple some clout, to the dismay of the record companies. The record companies are trying to figure out how to wrestle more money out of downloads as their CD sales generally decline. (Of course, the low prices that the companies resist is one reason for the success. But Apple’s negotiating position has become strong, and Apple won’t compromise iTunes’ long-term popularity for short-term record company profits.

    The movie studios are trying to emulate iTunes’ success with a profitable downloading service while cutting out the middle-man–Apple. They want profit as the age of movie downloads approaches, but they don’t want to lose clout (and therefore profit) to Apple, as their audio brethren have.

    Apple–now seen less as a savior of the record industry and more as an oppressor and a tough negotiator–will have a tough time winning over the movie studios.

    Who knows if the movie studios will succeed w/o Apple. In theory, there’s no reason that they should not. They’re reasonably smart and successful people, they should be able to figure something out.

    But the track record of the record industry in the pre-iTunes world (and iTunes’ competitors now) suggests that it’s not easy to create a popular product.

    The movie companies might be able to use all the help they can get, and they would probably be well-served to team up w/ Apple. This would assure them of a popular service–and access to a lot of rabid iPod fans.

  6. I guess it is what you call a compromise between what would be best and easiest for the consumer and what the movie companies would actually prefer to provide that makes them the most money out of a situation that is not in their favour.

  7. Its still got DRM on it. No thanks. At least I can back up a DVD.

    By the way, its rumored that Leopard will incorporate Bittorrent in it. Will only be used by Apple though. I’m pretty sure it will be for software updates. But just maybe it may be used for movie downloads. And I’ve heard that Apple may offer free stuff from iTMS if you open the Bittorrent on your system.

    Bittorrent is great. I’ve been using it to download Linux distros for a couple of years.

  8. iMatt, your point re: studios/distro-dinos avoiding Apple seems spot on. I agree with those saying that it’s likely Disney and others will put full length flicks on iTunes. Then WB et al. get to watch who moves the most product. BitTorrent rules the geek universe, but iTunes rules the “norms”.

    game on.

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