Hoping to show that it can serve as a legit conduit for digital sales, BitTorrent Monday announced the launch of an e-commerce venture to sell and rent encrypted video content over its peer-to-peer networking software from several major studios and TV networks.
BitTorrent, incorporated as a company in 2004, incurred the wrath of the entertainment industry because its software allows anyone with an Internet connection to download full-length, pirated movies.
The firm has reached a détente with the industry, striking distribution deals in the past year with 20th Century Fox, Lions Gate, MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, among others.
The BitTorrent Entertainment Network will sell or rent movies and TV shows only to subscribers in the United States. Files are protected with Microsoft’s digital-rights-management software, embedded into the Windows Media Player software. The videos may only be played on a single physical computer, and they require subscribers to have Windows XP or Vista PCs. And they won’t be playable on portable video devices, such as Apple’s iPod.
The service will rent movies at $3.99 for new releases like Superman Returns and $2.99 for catalog titles such as A Clockwork Orange and The Blair Witch Project. Movie rentals are viewable within 30 days and expire 24 hours after someone starts watching them.
Meanwhile, TV shows and music videos will be sold as download-to-own files for $1.99 each, which has become the industry standard for online sales of television content.
TV episodes being offered by BitTorrent include Comedy Central’s SouthPark, Fox’s 24 and MTV’s Jackass.
Besides the for-pay content, BitTorrent said it will offer “a wide variety” of free, unprotected entertainment content.