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INDUSTRY UK

Hollywood fights piracy with free downloads

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Major Hollywood studios have joined hands with British technology company Blinkbox to offer free movie downloads to UK film consumers. The “Full Stream Ahead” campaign will offer £20 free credit to film fans from June 7-13 to download films of their choice.

The scheme, which is being backed by the UK Film Council and the British Film Institute, has the participation of Paramount, Sony Pictures, Universal, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. Films available for download include Avatar, Sherlock Holmes and Up in the Air.

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The rationale behind the free film offer is “to educate and encourage people, including those tempted to try illegal file-sharing, to adopt legal methods for quickly and easily accessing movie content online”, according to a Blinkbox statement. British viewers are well familiar with streaming services with the BBC iPlayer, 4OD and the ITV Player being extremely popular.

This latest attempt to get end users to stay on the legal path comes on the back of research by Global Web Index in 2009 which revealed that consumers were using illegal filesharing websites because they couldn’t find the content they wanted anywhere else. The research also showed that

45% of filesharers said they would download films legally if easily accessible. Blinkbox co-founder Michael Comish said, “If millions of people take up this offer, yes, it is going to cost us a lot of money. But the cost of not doing it is far larger. If we do not make people aware that there is good-quality streaming video available, then we will hit a tipping point in online piracy.”

Blinkbox currently has 1.2 million subscribers who watch five million streams per month.

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