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A View from Brad King

Warner Bros. to Distribute Films Using Bit Torrent

The popularity of video on portable devices has studios looking to tap into…wait for it…peer-to-peer file-sharing.

  • May 9, 2006

Music, movie, and film studios have been battling file-trading networks since 1999, attempting to shut down these peer services, while also hoping to build their own distribution network directly into the home. Unfortunately, many of those studios found that creating their own e-commerce distribution network, complete with unwieldy digital rights management, was not very compelling to consumers.

(Why? Quick: what studio put out your favorite movie this year? What music label distributes your favorite bands?)

Eventually, a few vendors began popping up, most notably, Apple’s iTunes, and that seemed like a really good idea for entertainment studios – until they realized that by utterly destroying the digital retail market a few years back, they are left with precious few places to go when it comes to selling their wares.

So, naturally, you can expect to see these companies begin turning to the very file-sharing networks they attempted to shut down. Warner Bros. announced that it would begin selling its film and television shows using Bit Torrent, a popular tool for sharing large files.

From the Associated Press article:

Warner Bros., a division of Time Warner Inc., said it will use BitTorrent’s ability to speed the downloading of large computer files to rent and sell its films the same day the movies become available on DVD…

“If we can convert 5, 10, 15 percent of the peer-to-peer users that have been obtaining our product from illegitimate sources to becoming legitimate buyers of our product, that has the potential of a huge impact on our industry and our economics,” said Kevin Tsujihara, president of the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group.

It’s a shame nobody thought of this back in 1998.

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