Movielink provides alternative to dangers of file sharing

By Gus Bode

With recent legal action being taken against file traders and music pirating offenders, it seems that finding downloadable entertainment from the Internet is a virtual gamble.

Movielink, a web-based movie rental site approaching its one-year anniversary, provides a legal solution to downloading copyrighted materials with cost and time efficiency.

With several major motion picture studios behind it, including MGM, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios, Artisan, Warner Bros. and Disney, Movielink offers 450 feature film titles.


Although the film studios have extended licensed materials to other film-on-demand sites, never before have they featured a site themselves.

The service allows PC users with a broadband connection of 7,000 kilobytes per second (kbps) or more to download full-length films. Movies are available for viewing two to 10 minutes after a download begins. This is a feature Movielink calls, “Movies in Minutes.” To use this feature, users have to be connected to the Internet. But in-home usage is not the direction Movielink is headed, rather its selling point is portability.

“Right now, a lot of people are downloading movies on to their laptops and watching them on the go,” Rachel Hefferon, public relations manager for Movielink, said. “It is a portable service and takes up a lot less battery power than playing a DVD.”

For now, laptop owners can download movies before road trips, plane rides and classes for viewing at their convenience. In the future, technology may further the advancement of portable movie watching just as the Sony Walkman revolutionized portable and personal music.

Smaller and more use-specific movie players may follow the trend of MP3 players, taking movie viewing from public to private. An example of this kind of technological shift is the development of Panasonic’s new waterproof MP3 player, which allows listeners to play music while swimming.

Much like pay-per-view, Movielink offers recent releases not yet available for public purchase. Downloaded movies are available exclusively to the PC it has been licensed to. Once downloaded, the viewer has 30 days to watch the film, but once play is hit, a movie may be viewed as often as possible within a 24-hour window. After the 24-hour “rental” period has passed, the movie deletes itself from the user’s hard drive.

The films run with uninterrupted, refined picture quality and a bookmarking feature, which allows users to start and stop a movie at any given scene. PC users may also shut down their computers, return to the film later and resume viewing where they left off.


Each film can be downloaded for a cost that ranges anywhere from $2.99 to $4.99. The titles include a variety of films from every genre, including, “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” “Gangs of New York,” “Jackass:The Movie” and “Jungle Book 2.”

“We try to offer an array of movies to please everyone,” Hefferon said. “Action movies get downloaded the most, but we’ve got all genres.”

Movielink also offers a “staff picks” section as well as contact information for users to suggest films they would like to see offered.

With customer service and expansion in mind, Movielink launched its first annual College Film Festival in September. The festival features a variety of college-oriented classics as well as incentives for students who download the films. The first movie a user with a valid university email account downloads will be offered at a 50-percent discount and remain at a 25-percent discount until the festival ends Oct. 15.

Students will also receive a coupon for a free Quizno’s sub sandwich with every download. In addition to the promotional savings, Movielink makes college students eligible to enter the “Best Machine on Campus” sweepstakes, which offers prizes ranging from a Toshiba Satellite P25-S607 featuring Windows XP Media Center Edition to $50 in “Movielink Money.”

Movies featured in the College Film Festival include “American Pie,” “Vacation,” “Billy Madison,” “Blazing Saddles” and student films from five colleges.

“Colleges are a great set-up for Movielink,” Hefferon said. “Almost all systems are broadband, and students can easily download movies on campus.”

Hefferon says since movies are encrypted, only users of the PC they are downloaded to may view them. Even attempted burns on writable disks will deteriorate after the 24-hour window.

For those who fear the legal consequences of file sharing and piracy and become frustrated by campus firewalls, Movielink seems to provide a safe alternative for PC downloaded entertainment.