Online Entertainment

BitTorrent Buddies Up With TV, Movie Companies

File-sharing vendor BitTorrent on Wednesday announced a slew of partnerships with film and television companies, as it slowly boosts its sullied reputation as a tool for media pirates.

The company has reached agreements with 20th Century Fox, G4, Kadokawa Pictures USA, Lionsgate, MTV Networks, Palm Pictures, Paramount Pictures and Starz Media to publish movies and TV shows on its BitTorrent.com Web site.

The deal significantly expands BitTorrent’s content library, which will now include movies such as “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “Mission: Impossible III,” as well as TV programs such as “South Park” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

“Our audience has a voracious appetite for digital content. By offering the titles they want, it’s a win-win situation for both content providers [and] our users,” said BitTorrent President and Co-Founder Ashwin Navin.

Shifting Strategy

BitTorrent customers can download and view videos on a PC, laptop and other portable devices. Most film titles will be available for purchase on a download-to-own basis or for rent on-demand. TV content must be purchased.

Along with a growing number of digital media deals in the past year, BitTorrent’s alignment with broadcasting’s elite signifies a shift in itsstrategy.

Previously, BitTorrent forged similar partnerships with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Egami Media, Hart Sharp, Koch Entertainment and the Orchard.

“This is a tricky business where entertainment companies are looking for accountability,” Big Champagne CEO Eric Garland told TechNewsWorld. “BitTorrent is doing everything in its power to build a legitimate retail outlet for content companies. If you want to be on the right side of Hollywood, that’s the way to do it.”

A Checkered Past

Designed in 2001, the BitTorrent software provides an efficient way to distribute high-quality media files on the Internet. BitTorrent has fought several high-profile industry battles, because many of the millions of users of its software have transferred copyrighted media over the Internet.

TheMotion Picture Association of America (MPAA), among others, accused BitTorrent of enabling digital piracy. LikeYouTube andMySpace, BitTorrent is actively working with the MPAA — both to remove copyright infringing content from its online search results and to replace it with high-quality legal options for users.

Bright Future

With integrated monetization for paid and ad-supported content, the forthcoming BitTorrent service appears to Hollywood as an amenable platform for the digital distribution of its content. For example, Palm Pictures plans to release full-length feature films on BitTorrent.com prior to theatrical and DVD release dates.

BitTorrent will disclose pricing details closer to the planned Feb. 2007 launch of its online retail marketplace.

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