The Hollywood, Calif.-based company--a joint venture between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal and Warner Bros.--is expected to introduce a library of studio films, available for download to the PC, before the holidays.
Under its three-year deal with IBM, MovieLink will store its collection of films, trailers and movie clips at the technology giant?s centralized facility in New Jersey. When content is requested, IBM will deliver it over a distributed network, which MovieLink has yet to publicly designate.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The announcement is the first of many expected from MovieLink, which will be the first studio-backed venture to debut online. Previously named MovieFly, the service has been in the offing for nearly two years as Hollywood grappled with two big concerns about digital distribution--piracy and high-quality video delivery.
The film industry has quaked watching people take to peer-to-peer networks, such as now-defunct Napster, that allowed them to trade music files for free.
As high-speed Internet connections become more commonplace, consumers are apt to trade and distribute large movie files the same way, if given the chance. But Hollywood is attempting to learn from the music industry's mistakes by applying a security system to prevent digital theft, or what's known as digital rights management (DRM) software.
MovieLink will not use DRM software from IBM but is likely to announce a partner soon to create a secure business model for downloadable films that precludes theft. The company may be working with Macrovision, which provides technology to secure VHS and DVDs as well as IP networks, according to a representative at iVast. iVast, an MPEG-4 technology provider, is working with Macrovision to build a service that supports DRM and MPEG-4 encoding, she said, that will be used by MovieLink.
The company has yet to name a technology partner for viewing the movies. But an executive from one of the member studios has said that the service will support the, a next-generation standard for compressing digital video and audio. Microsoft's Windows Media 9 Services and RealNetworks' RealOne could both be in the running for that deal.
MovieLink would not comment on its future DRM partner or its video-player partner.
"This is a significant building block of the infrastructure" of our service, said MovieLink CEO Jim Ramos. "IBM is providing a nationwide support service with backup, with the necessary security, quality and performance."
Rival video-on-demand service Intertainer, which streams videos over the Net from a few of the major studios, to play the films and protect them from theft.