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Tuesday, January 10, 2006
First Legal Hollywood Downloads Launched in Europe

UK's Sky has launched the first legal film download service offering Hollywood blockbusters over the internet.

The company has signed up several major Hollywood studios such as Sony Pictures to the service, which allows Sky Movie channel subscribers to download films at no cost.

Titles available include Spiderman 2, The Day After Tomorrow and Layer Cake, and the company promises 1,000 films will be online by the summer.

Sky estimates that a two-hour film, the quality of which is comparable to a DVD, will take about an hour to download. It has been working with Microsoft to develop security software for the system so that films can only be viewed by Sky subscribers based in Britain.

The Sky by Broadband service initially offers about 200 films. The software is also able to analyse what films people download and suggest others that they might like.

Attempts by companies such as Apple to offer legal film downloads have been delayed because of copyright fears by the film studios. Google, which last week unveiled its online video store, has so far failed to sign up any major studios.

However, Sky claims that it has benefited because of its existing relationship with studios. "Not all the studios have signed up but we are confident they will," said Mr Freudenstein.

A sports service offering highlights from Premiership football games and other sports was also launched today, and from next season Sky customers will be able to watch Championship games online. A new mobile phone service has also been unveiled, which lets users watch clips and live content from several of Sky's sport and news channels.

Later this year the mobile phone service is set to be upgraded so users can program their Sky+ recorder via their phone. Sky has also been working with Microsoft to develop the new download service for computers connected to a TV announced by Microsoft and Intel last week.

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