Warner Bros. offers ‘Harry Potter’ over the Internet

The Associated Press
Tuesday September 10, 2002

LOS ANGELES — Warner Bros. has become the latest studio to offer some of its films for a limited time for download over the Internet. 

The studio will offer some of its biggest recent titles, including “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” as well as older titles such as “Mars Attacks,” over CinemaNow, a video-on-demand service that offers films for viewing on computers. 

CinemaNow offered films from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in a 30-day trial earlier this year. The current arrangement with Warner Bros. will run until the end of the year and may be extended. 

While Warner Bros. has offered its films for viewing on demand before, this is the first time they will be offered for download. 

Films such as “Harry Potter” can be downloaded for a fee of $3.99 for 24-hour viewing. Older films from the Warner Bros. home video library can be downloaded for $2.99 for the same period. 

The studio said a key factor in allowing people to download digital copies of its films was CinemaNow’s anti-piracy technology, supplied by Microsoft Corp. 

“As we would with any entrant into the area, we investigated their technology and found it to meet our digital rights management requirements and reached reasonable economic terms,” said Jeffrey Calman, executive vice president of video on demand and pay per view for Warner Home Video. 

Neither side disclosed the financial terms of the agreement. 

The individual files are as large as 700 megabytes and can take as long as two hours to download even over high-speed broadband connections. They contain digital locks that prevent the files from being copied. The license expires after 24 hours, rendering the file useless unless the license is renewed. 

CinemaNow Inc., based in Marina del Rey, is majority owned by Lions Gate Entertainment. 

Warner Bros. is also one of five studios that formed a separate company, MovieLink, that will offer movies on demand over the Internet. That venture is expected to launch by the end of the year.