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BitTorrent inks licensing deal with studios

The file-sharing site signs on four independent movie studios, continuing to boost its number of movie titles.

BitTorrent is lining up entertainment companies as it prepares to sell downloads of feature films, TV shows and other video entertainment.

The San Francisco-based file-sharing company announced on Monday that it has signed licensing deals with four independent movie studios that will allow it to sell 1,600 video titles over the Internet.

The deal comes two months after BitTorrent announced a groundbreaking deal with Warner Bros. Entertainment Group, the first major entertainment company to embrace its controversial distribution system.

"This shows that BitTorrent is an aggregator of content outside the major movie studios," said Ashwin Navin, BitTorrent's co-founder and president. "We'll be able to offer consumers a subscription service that will be comprehensive."

Once distrustful of peer-to-peer technologies, Hollywood studios appear more willing to partner with companies such as BitTorrent and video-sharing site, which last month partnered with Warner Bros. to distribute movie titles. BitTorrent, widely used to both legally and illegally swap copies of copyright movies, has been aiming to turn its technology into a tool used for legal services.

Under the deal with the independent movie studios, the titles will be for sale as part of a subscription service. This differs from the pay-per-title service that BitTorrent plans to use with Warner Bros.

BitTorrent is building a video store from which customers can download movies at speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, according to the company. The store is expected to launch sometime in the fall, company executives said.

The filmmakers that signed with BitTorrent are Hart Sharp Video, Egami Media (a subsidiary of Image Entertainment), Koch Entertainment and The Orchard. Videos offered include documentaries, feature-length and short films, live music concerts, comedy recordings and TV programming.