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11/29/2006
05:41 PM
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BitTorrent Does Digital Download Deal

Film and TV video from eight studios, including 20th Century Fox, MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures, and Starz Media, will be available on the peer-to-peer network.

Peer-to-peer content distribution company BitTorrent, Inc. today announced partnerships with eight media companies to make their film and television programs available for download.

The companies involved in the deal include 20th Century Fox, G4, Kadokawa Pictures USA, Lionsgate, MTV Networks, Palm Pictures, Paramount Pictures and Starz Media.

In May, BitTorrent struck a similar deal with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, followed by partnerships with Hart Sharp Video, Egami Media, Koch Entertainment and The Orchard in July.

"We're thrilled to be partnering with world-renowned entertainment companies and TV networks," said Ashwin Navin, president and co-founder of BitTorrent, in a statement. "This is a true testament to the value of our community, technology and the position we aspire to play in the world of entertainment and content distribution."

BitTorrent's current position may not be immediately apparent because the online entertainment distribution business has become so crowded. Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Microsoft have all launched digital video download services. Wal-Mart and Time Warner today separately announced that they planned sell digital video downloads next year. Sony has similar plans for its PlayStation 3 game console.

However, as measured in bits, BitTorrent certainly qualifies as a major player: BitTorrent traffic accounts for as much as 40 percent of all worldwide Internet traffic, according to the company.

Not all of that traffic represents illegally copied content and BitTorrent is working to make even less unauthorized copyrighted content available online. The company plans to remove infringing content as per the DMCA and to take proactive steps to prevent illicit content distribution.

BitTorrent users will be able to buy, download and view select movies and TV shows on computers or other portable devices. Most of the entertainment content in question will be made available on the day it is released on DVD or shown on television, if it hasn't debuted already. Palm Pictures plans to release feature films before their theatrical premier or release on DVD.

Most of the films will be available for purchase (Download-to-Own or DTO) or rental (Video-on-Demand or VOD). TV shows will be DTO only.

Bloggers Om Malik and Michael Arrington today respectively reported that BitTorrent co-founder and CEO Bram Cohen was on his way out and that BitTorrent had raised new venture capital from Accel Partners. A spokesperson for Accel Partners could not immediately confirm or refute this latter claim. BitTorrent spokesperson Lily Lin denied that BitTorrent had won further funding and stated definitively that Cohen remains with the company. "He's still here," said Lin. "He's not going anywhere."

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