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Free flicks, art for Netflix users

Subscribers of the DVD site are offered free movies from Blockbuster and free artwork from Netflix.

Whether you use them as coupons or fridge art, you might want to hang on to those red Netflix envelope flaps. Blockbuster is offering free movie rentals for every Netflix envelope flap brought into participating stores December 5 through 21. In order to qualify, however, Netflix subscribers must also have a Blockbuster store membership. The membership is free and can be applied for at the store. The tear-off Netflix flap, which has the subscriber's name and address on it, and is normally thrown away, will be used as proof of Netflix membership and must match the name on the Blockbuster card. Renters are eligible to receive a free movie rental for every flap they bring into the store, but they will be subject to Blockbuster's typical due dates and rental fees.

The Blockbuster promotion is an obvious attempt to build a database of potential subscribers to its online service. The service, called Blockbuster Total Access, is similar to Netflix in that it has no due dates, but it gives members the option of exchanging DVDs at one of its retail stores in addition to by mail. Concurrent with the Netflix promotion, Blockbuster is also offering free two-week trial memberships to Blockbuster Total Access. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Netflix launched limited-edition versions of its envelopes on Thursday as part of a promotion to support The Film Foundation, Martin Scorsese's nonprofit organization. The envelopes are set to feature artwork from famous celebrities and will be used throughout the holiday season.