BitTorrent eyes China for movie deals

BitTorrent is talking to Hong Kong and Chinese movie studios about using its file-sharing software to legally distribute Chinese language films.

Flush with success from sealing a deal with Warner Bros to have some of its movies sold using its Internet file sharing software, BitTorrent has turned its sights on China.

The company is in talks with several Hong Kong and Chinese movie studios about offering its file sharing software for legal movie distribution of Chinese language films by the end of this year, according to Lily Lin, BitTorrent's director of communications.

The discussions highlight a move by makers of file sharing software to promote themselves as a legal way to distributor large files such as movies and TV shows online. To seal deals, developers have been forced to prove they're part of the solution to Internet piracy, instead of part of the problem by finding ways to promote legal downloads.

But the strategy could prove difficult in East Asia, where most people share files freely and DVDs of the latest movies can be had for as little as a few dollars in most major cities, unless the promoters offer their legal movies for free. BitTorrent was short on specifics about how such deals might generate revenue for film studios, saying it expected users to take some time to get used to the system.

Earlier this month, Warner Bros Entertainment became the first major studio to sign a deal with BitTorrent to sell movie and television content in the US. The studio, famous for Bugs Bunny and other cartoon characters along with the "Matrix" trilogy, said an agreement BitTorrent made with anti-piracy watchdog the Motion Picture Association of America last November was key to their deal. The agreement to help curb the use of BitTorrent as a medium for illegal movie distribution involved removing links to unauthorized content from the software company's site.

Japan, South Korea and Taiwan also boast major film studios with which BitTorrent could cooperate in Asia. Lin said her company was in talks in several countries across Asia, but declined to name them.

BitTorrent's file sharing software is designed for speed, maximizing available bandwidth by breaking files into bits and sending them to multiple users at the same time, who then share those bits to reconfigure the file.

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Dan Nystedt

IDG News Service
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