How to Rip a Movie, Legally

Internet movie service provider Movielink has licensed software from Sonic Solutions to offer consumers a legal way to pay for movies they download from the Internet and burn them onto blank DVDs.

Movielink, co-owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios and Warner Bros. Studios, also said it would license a special Sonic software module that restricts the number of copies of movies consumers can make.

Such an offering will help service providers offer portable movies to consumers without jeopardizing copyright laws, which has been a jittery issue for movie studios’ digital movie strategies.

Thanks to the arrangement, consumers are no longer relegated to watching the film on a PC, but can view them on a DVD player in the living room.

This deal solves a business and legal challenge those looking to ply their trade in the online video space had faced for the last few years: How can content consumers take movies from the Internet and burn them onto DVDs without infringing on copyright laws?

The issue echoes the concerns posed by content owners vis-à-vis music subscription services, which were originally loath to enable portability because they didn’t want the content copied a will.

Success of the iPod and other digital music distribution services alleviated those concerns.

With the deal, Movielink and Sonic recognize that consumers, who own more than 100 million DVD players in the U.S. today, will pay for technology and services that allow legal content duplication.

The deal comes as technology, service and content providers have been working to develop solutions that will allow them to realize the multi-million-dollar potential of letting consumers control the way they view and use paid content they procure over the Internet.

Movielink CEO Jim Ramo said the move shows Movielink is anticipating an industry resolution to establish rules for converting secure Internet-delivered Movielink downloads into a secure format compatible with DVD players.

“This gives consumers a more flexible product while providing copyright holders with adequate protection of their content,” Ramo said in a statement.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Movielink will license Sonic’s AuthorScript DVD on Demand, which includes a batch of digital rights management technologies: secure export of content from approved download systems; video codecs that convert Internet video into MPEG-2 video for DVD; DVD formatting tools for converting video into interactive DVDs; and technology that allows copy protection rules to be applied to DVDs as they are being burned.

Sonic will include the Movielink Service within its Roxio CinePlayer and other Sonic software applications distributed through manufacturer and retail channels.

Movielink and Sonic will co-market the platform to and distribute it through Sonic’s PC manufacturer, retail and e-tail distribution channels.

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