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Disney Titles Hit MovieLink

Online movie download service MovieLink has announced a pact with Disney-owned Buena Vista Pay TV to add new releases and select titles from Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone, Miramax and Dimension films.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based MovieLink, a joint venture of Vivendi Universal, Sony Pictures, MGM, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros., said the addition of the Disney titles would increase its catalog to about 400 titles and give it films from six of the seven major movie studios.

The only major studio missing is 20th Century Fox.

More importantly, it adds legitimacy to the concept of on-demand movie downloads to PCs. The business has been in a state of flux because of piracy on popular peer-to-peer networks and concerns over the quality of digital movies but with most of the major studios hopping aboard, MovieLink appears set to find its niche.

Significantly, the buzz in the sector comes as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is making good on a threat to sue file-swappers. The trade association has been busy issuing subpoenas to ISPs demanding the identities of subscribers using P2P applications to upload and download copyrighted works.

Although the movie download service is only available for customers with high-speed Internet connections, MovieLink believes the addition of family-friendly Disney titles will tilt the scales in its favor.

The first titles to be available via the Buena Vista Pay TV deal include Academy Award winner Chicago, Gangs of New York, The Recruit, 25th Hour and Frida. Disney hit movies The Jungle Book 2, Monsters, Inc, The Rookie and In the Bedroom will also hawked on MovieLink.

A spokesperson for Buena Vista Pay TV told internetnews.com select new titles would be added to the service in the future but there was no word on whether the entire Disney library would be made available.

A feature film on MovieLink costs between $2.95 and $4.95, much the same as a video or DVD rental at an offline location. After a movie is downloaded, it can be stored on a PC for up to 30 days. "Once play is initiated, [customers] can watch a movie as many times as they would like in a 24-hour period," MovieLink said in a statement.

Senior VP and general manager Buena Vista Pay TV Dan Cohen said the deal with MovieLink paves the way for "unprecedented access to our movies aboard a high-quality and secure Internet site." He said the pact was part of Disney's overall strategy to make digital content available in a convenient, customer-friendly manner.