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Dutch offered Harry Potter 4 pay-to-own download

Windows DRM leaves iPod owners out in the cold

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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has become the second major home video giant to offer pay-to-keep movie downloads. Today, it announced Dutch consumers will be able to download Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on the very day the DVD goes on sale in the Netherlands.

The download version will be made available from Midnight, 4 April through Dutch content provider Free Record Shop along with "nearly 100" other Warner-owned movies including the Matrix movies, Ocean's Twelve, Constantine and Lethal Weapon 4, along with classics like Casablanca, Doctor Zhivago and Gone with the Wind.

The downloads are DRM-protected, of course, using Microsoft's Windows Media format, so they'll be of little use to iPod owners. Downloaders have rights to unlimited playback of the download system, Warner said, and presumably on a portable device too. Warner did not say, however, what resolution the downloads will be. It did say the movies will cost between €10 and €15 ($12-18), so they'll cost less than the DVD versions - €35 ($42) in the case of Harry Potter 4, according to Free Record Shop's website.

The announcement comes a week after Universal and UK content provider Lovefilm said they would offer pay-to-own downloads at DVD prices and with the DVD bundled - essentially to minimise individuals ripping the disc to transfer the content to a range of devices.

Earlier, Apple posted the first full-length movie download on its iTunes Music Store, possibly as a test-run before launch a full-scale service. ®

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