BitTorrent goes legal

BitTorrent, the website once seen as a hub for piracy of Hollywood films, has relaunched Monday as a legal download service with the cooperation of the major US film studios.

The BitTorrent Entertainment Network at will include "the most comprehensive library of downloadable digital entertainment ever amassed on the Web," the company said in a statement.

BitTorrent, whose video-sharing software launched in 2001 was used by film pirates around the world, will under its new scheme allow consumers to rent or purchase films, music and other content.

It has agreements with News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox, Viacom's MTV Networks and Paramount Pictures, Time Warner unit Warner Bros. and its newest partner, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.

It will also include a video-sharing service allowing customers to post their own content in the style of Youtube.

"The BitTorrent Entertainment Network is created by and for the BitTorrent Generation, which has a vast appetite for high-quality, on-demand entertainment," said Ashwin Navin, president and co-founder of BitTorrent.

" engages our community to contribute in profound ways -- whether it's by evangelizing their favorite titles; by submitting content they've created; or by contributing their bandwidth to enable faster downloads and an improved entertainment experience.

"Our uniqueness lies in the strength of our community, delivery technology, and the industry's most comprehensive catalog of digital content." will start out with over 5,000 movie titles, TV shows, PC games and music content, including films such as "Superman Returns," "Mission: Impossible III," "World Trade Center" and "An Inconvenient Truth."


The site will offer movie rentals at 3.99 and 2.99 US dollars; TV shows and music videos will be offered as download-to-own at 1.99 US dollars each.

The company said that "a wide variety of entertainment content will be offered for free and without digital rights management" that limits copying.

BitTorrent was sued in 2004 by the Motion Picture Association of America and accused of promoting piracy of copyrighted films. It subsequently reached agreements with the major studios to halt illegal file-sharing and to use its software for legal downloads.

The San Francisco-baed company, privately held and backed by venture capital firms, Accel and DCM, claims to have "millions" of registered users.