Copyright 2001 www.tombraiderchronicles.com

[ August 17th 2001 ]

In a bid to combat the growing threat of motion picture piracy across the internet which is estimated to cost millions of dollars per year in lost revenue as up to 400,000 bootlegged copies of movies are traded daily, five of Hollywood's biggest studios are pressing ahead with a new initiative called MOVIEFLY aimed at developing On Demand services for broadband internet users.

MGM, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Vivendi Universal and Warner Bros will join forces to deliver motion pictures via the internet for users to download to their PC and watch with either Microsoft Windows Media Player or Real Networks Real Player. Although broadband penetration is still very low and industry experts estimate studios will not turn an immediate profit, Yair Landau, president of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment insists the project will proceed nonetheless. "We are initially subsidizing the development of this market - we're not waiting."

While the concept of broadband motion picture delivery has been largely recognized as the only way to combat video piracy, the coalition between the five major studios has come under fire from anti-trust watchdogs as the U.S. Department Of Justice continues to investigate claims against the music industry as it joins forces to quell the $4 billion a year illegal music trade across the internet. Mr. Landau dismisses the concern. "We're offering an honest alternative and I think Washington will recognize that."

The joint broadband delivery venture is expected to competitively price movies at between $2 and $5 and may be implemented before the likes of Paramount Pictures Lara Croft: Tomb Raider migrates to video from the silver screen. The broadband delivery concept will also boost media interactivity as more and more companies are electing to deliver their content across the internet. On Command, the leading provider of in-room entertainment across the United States already utilizes the internet to deliver games and interactive TV to over 3,400 end users.

Technology will continue to push the envelope as broadband and cable infrastructures replace existing networks and afford users greater data flow. Mobile cellular networks will join the hardline revolution next year with the release of Third Generation mobile phones geared for new high speed wireless networks capable of transmitting data at 2mb per second.

For now, present broadband connectivity supporting 300kbs - 500kbs will be sufficient to afford end users quality motion pictures direct to their PC via the internet while studios begin the first stage of a new initiative aimed at throttling the growing trend of video piracy before it reaches the proportions currently faced by the music industry.

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