Reeltime's main website
Australian companies tries to address piracy and user concerns over playback options

This week, an Australian company called Reeltime ambitiously announced that it is the world's first company to offer download-to-own movie and TV service. Reeltime is also partnering with Universal Pictures to offer a number of old and new releases. The company touts its service as a true ownership service where customers do keep what they've downloaded and are allowed to burn movies at DVD quality to actual DVDs for playback on their home theaters.

The service is launching with a focus on Windows PCs, and Play4Sure devices which support the WMV video format. Users who sign up to Realtime's service will be able to purchase and download movies in three different file formats: a streaming WMV format, a standalone WMV format that can be saved as well as transferred to Play4Sure mobile players and an encrypted DVD format. WMV files will be locked to the MAC address of the PC that downloaded the files to prevent copying across multiple systems.

DVD files are proprietary compressed versions of an actual VOB format, which when downloaded and burned, Reeltime's software will automatically decompress the files onto DVD which can then be viewed on a standalone DVD player. The only drawback with the file is that it must be burned onto a DVD disc within 30 days from the date of download. Customers are able to download WMV files anytime they wish as long as they have a proof of previous purchase.

Signing up to Reeltime's service is free, but there are set prices for movie downloads. Most movies range from $4 to $6 depending on whether or not the movie is a recent release or not. TV episodes can also be downloaded for $3 per episode. Adult movies are $10 per movie and are locked with a pin. Reeltime says that it is currently expanding its selection of movies and working to bring in movies from other studios. The company also noted that soon, new movies releases will be made available for download on the same day as the DVD release.

Reeltime's approach to downloadable movies tries to address the rampant piracy issue that currently exists online. Although the approach is commendable, the service is only available in Australia as of today. However, users have already expressed concerns on the impact that Reeltime will probably not have on illegal downloads. One thing that Reeltime does address very well is the fact that its download service does not restrict users to specific devices and does offer playback flexibility.

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