Movie studios launch Internet download service

Five major U.S. movie studios have launched a new service for consumers to download movies from the Internet for a fee, the group's new online movie rental company, Movielink LLC, said Monday.

The Movielink service, currently available to U.S. customers only, is viewed in the entertainment industry as a big step forward in delivering video-on-demand (VOD) services over the Net. Since the studios announced plans to launch Movielink in August 2001, increasing numbers of satellite and cable companies have rolled out VOD services of their own.

Initially, Movielink will offer more than 170 contemporary and classic films, including "A Beautiful Mind," "Harry Potter" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

Once customers have registered with Movielink, selected a movie and paid via credit card, they can download a film, typically around 500M bytes in size, which is valid for 30 days. They have 24 hours to view the film after initiating play.

Movielink offers movie downloads via the media players RealPlayer from RealNetworks Inc. and Media Player from Microsoft Corp. Both players can be downloaded for free from their respective Web sites.

The studios backing Movielink are Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., Universal Studios Inc., Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment Inc. and Warner Bros. Each studio is providing content to Movielink on a nonexclusive basis.

Earlier in the year Movielink chose IBM Corp. as its provider of managed hosted services.

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