BitTorrent Launches A Legal Video Download Store

BitTorrent Launches A Legal Video Download Store

BitTorrent hopes a well-stocked digital film store with thousands of titles at reasonable prices can wean its audience away from pirated video.

BitTorrent launched its long awaited BitTorrent Entertainment Network Monday, hoping that its well-stocked digital film store with thousands of titles at reasonable prices can wean its audience away from pirated video.

Claiming 135 million users, the company said its software features a digital rights management system that blocks users from copying and sharing files. In an effort to convince its audience -- primarily young males -- to use the network, the firm has deliberately set content prices low. New release movies are priced at $3.99, for instance.

"Because the site is backed by BitTorrent's proven peer-assisted technology," said company spokesperson Rebecca West in an e-mail, "the download speed of each media file increases as the file becomes more popular."

The site is being launched with more than 5,000 titles including movies, TV shows, music and games content. BitTorrent said it has partnered with more than 35 providers including MGM, 20th Century Fox, MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group.

The service will compete with other providers like Apple's iTunes, WalMart, and Joost. With an eye to the traffic overload that slowed iTunes to a crawl during the recent holiday season, the BitTorrent and Joost systems utilize P2P technology that speeds up traffic with increases in volume.

"Digital distribution represents a significant new revenue stream for the entertainment industry, but up until now it has been hindered by the combination of long download times and the lack of good content for people to download," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group in a statement. "BitTorrent has aggressively addressed both problems; first with their unique technology, which moves content closer to the customer and dramatically lowers the amount of time it takes to acquire it, and second with their unusually strong content library."

BitTorrent tipped its hand about its planned digital rights store last November when it revealed it had signed deals with 20th Century Fox, MTV Networks and Paramount Pictures to offer titles. Before that, movie and TV producers complained the site was used by some peer-to-peer file sharing networks to deliver pirated content.

The BEN site will offer movies for rent for 24-hour periods at $3.99 for new titles and $2.99 for older catalog titles. TV shows and music videos are offered at "download-to-own" at $1.99 each. In addition, a wide range of user-generated and other entertainment content will be offered free.

"We're leveling the playing field for independent artists who have been turned away by publishers who are traditionally bound by scarce distribution alternatives and limited shelf space," said Ashwin Navin, president and co-founder of BitTorrent, in a statement. "Our entertainment network is a true marketplace that embraces and welcomes contribution from the independents, allowing them to reach a vast user base."

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