$1 films spook Hollywood

A Taiwanese Web site is offering hundreds of videos on demand for just $1 each, trumping Hollywood's plans to deliver similar services and raising the specter of a new round of international copyright battles.

Despite claims that their Movie88 site is following all local copyright laws, the owners of this new venture are drawing scrutiny from a skeptical Hollywood. Meanwhile, Web surfers drawn by free or cut-rate movies are flocking to the site, overloading servers and clogging data pipes.

Movie88 appears to be the most ambitious commercial video service yet to hit the Net, with a huge catalog of English-language, Chinese and Japanese movies that can be streamed on demand at fairly high quality.

Movie88's service looks much like a video rental store. It offers a huge range of films that have been released to video, although it appears to lack the first-run films that are often available online or on pirated DVDs hawked on street corners in some Asian cities. The site says it will charge $1 per movie but give each customer a $5 credit for signing up. At least in its English version, it doesn't yet appear to have the capability to accept credit cards and add more credit to an account.

The movies themselves are streamed in RealNetworks' RealVideo format and cannot easily be saved or downloaded to a computer's hard drive. Each movie is available for three days; afterward, it must be renewed with another $1 credit to be seen again.

News source and more @ CNet News

View: Movie88 - $1 streaming movies (English)

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