BitTorrent goes legit

Interesting times.

LOS ANGELES — Warner Bros.’ video unit will sell movies and television shows to BitTorrent for legal downloads from the website that was once blamed for aiding the swapping of illegally copied films and programs.

Starting this summer, Warner Bros. will make more than 200 films available at, including blockbusters such as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and TV shows like Babylon 5.

The pact marks a big step for Hollywood as it increasingly makes digital files of movies and TV shows available on the web because until last year, BitTorrent’s software and website were considered to be aiding piracy of major studio films.

But in November, BitTorrent agreed with the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents Hollywood’s major studios, to help stem illegal swapping of digital movies and TV shows by removing links to pirated copies.

Executives from Warner Bros. and BitTorrent said the MPAA pact and new digital rights management software from BitTorrent were key elements in bringing the parties together.

“We’ve come to a point where you have sufficient consumer demand and we have the technology that is now mature enough,” said Jim Wuthrich, senior vice president at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The content will be available on the same day and date they are put on sale in retail stores, but cannot be copied and burned onto a DVD. They must reside on a computer drive…


Jeff Jarvis has a post about this on Buzzmachine.

GMSV is nicely acerbic:

This morning the studio, which has been fighting a bitter battle against file-sharing networks, announced a plan that on the surface appears to be a forward-thinking adaptation of a new distribution system. “We’ve been struggling with peer-to-peer technology and trying to figure out a way to harness the good in all that the technology allows us to do,” Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group, told the New York Times. “If we can convert 5, 10 or 15 percent of the illegal downloaders into consumers of our product, that is significant.” It certainly would be. But I can’t imagine Warner will ever achieve conversion rates like that if the Torrented movies are priced the same as a shrink-wrapped DVD, yet encumbered with a robust copy protection that allows them to be viewed only on the computer to which they are downloaded. Leave it to Hollywood to “embrace” peer-to-peer distribution and all the economies and efficiencies that go along with it and then ruin it by using it to peddle an inferior and overpriced product.