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Universal plans 'download-to-own' film service

Universal Pictures International plans to debut the first “download to own” movie service in the United Kingdom, allowing customers to download digital versions of blockbuster movies for keeps when they purchase a DVD of the movie.

Starting in April, the media and entertainment company, in conjunction with UK DVD distributor LoveFilm, will offer customers a £19.99 ($34.83) package of products that includes a DVD, a copy to view on a portable DVD player, as well as two digital downloads for PC or laptop.

Universal will start the service with King Kong as part of an initial collection of 35 movies, including Pride and Prejudice and Serenity. King Kong will sell for £19.99, roughly equal to the retail price.

Hollywood studios have been reluctant to sell digital versions of their blockbusters for fear they would be copied and pirated online.

The new service will use Microsoft's digital rights management technology, which is designed to prevent consumers from duplicating the movies, burning them to disc or uploading them to the Internet.

The download-to-own service will also be available through AOL, whose UK online movie service is operated by Lovefilm.

Story filed 26.03.06

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