'Dark Knight' available online over opening weekend

update At the same time the movie racks up record box-office business, a copy of the hit film makes its way online.

Hollywood can celebrate that pirated copies of this year's hit films aren't showing up on major Internet sites.

Too bad for the studios' enforcement efforts that some can still be found on smaller sites.

At the same time that the new Batman film, The Dark Knight, was drawing record audiences (the movie is estimated to have earned more than $155 million over the weekend), several copies of the film was available online.

Hit films, such as The Bourne Ultimatum, are readily available online. Videoembedder.com

A half hour after returning home from watching the film on Saturday night, I got home to find my colleague, Elinor Mills, has sent me a link that apparently originated at VideoEmbedder.com. Sure enough, a grainy and dark copy of the hit film was available for viewing and for download. It was still up on Sunday but could not be accessed on Monday.

Finding newly released movies is nothing new. In the past, it was easy to find them at Google Video and other video-sharing sites. Michael Moore's documentary, Sicko, was posted to the Web even before it had debuted in theaters. Following the appearance of Sicko on the Web, some argued that movies posted to the Internet can help boost interest in a film.

Back then, Google Video was loaded with full-length films and TV shows. The site is now focused more on shorter videos even while there is no limit on duration.

What this illustrates is the coming storm bearing down on the film industry. The size of movie files used to be too large to allow them to be streamed or downloaded easily. That's changing rapidly. The time to download big movie files is speeding up and streaming technology has also improved. The simple fact is it's getting easier to share movie files.

VideoEmbedder is just an online video player that anyone can use to upload clips to the Web. Someone used the site's player to upload a full version of The Bourne Ultimatum. A link to a copy of The Bourne Supremacy led me to a post that said the video had been removed for copyright infringement.

On the front door of VideoEmbedder.com is this note: "VideoEmbedder is free to use and is not responsible for the videos streamed using our player."

Representatives from Warner Bros. Pictures, which produced Dark Knight, said they were unaware of the copy that showed up online. A spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America was unavailable for comment.

Representatives of VideoEmbedder could not immediately be reached.

UPDATE: 3:30 p.m PT on Monday Turns out that there are plenty of places where one can find copies of Dark Knight on the Web. Byron Ng, a computer technician from Vancouver, Canada, has sent in some links where the film can be found. I've been assured by Ng that there are others.

 

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