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Everything in the new economy moves fast, piracy and legal action included. With the injunction in place against Napster Inc., the online music file-sharing company, a new specter is popping up. Online film is here, and so too is online film piracy. Frightened by the likes of Napster, studios and media companies with vast film holdings, such as Time Warner Inc., have dashed to make deals with Internet companies. But they have not dashed fast enough, as Jerome Rota knows. Rota, a French engineer, has swiped video-compaction software from Microsoft Corp., combined it with readily available DVD-decryption software and formed DivX;), a program/underground rebellion that allows users to download films onto their hard drives and standard CDs. DivX;) (its manifesto can be found at www.projectmayo.com) is spreading fast, and it’s beginning to scare the bejesus out of Hollywood, just as Napster did the record industry last year. But invent it, and they will sue. Online film piracy is already being addressed. A group of studios brought a suit against Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Scour Inc., a company that facilitates online film- and music-file-sharing. Uberagent Michael Ovitz is, needless to say, eager to unload his 20% stake in Scour. Last week also saw a surprising online film deal announced. Enron Corp., the Houston-based energy company that also has vast telecom holdings and deals, signed a 20-year contract with Blockbuster Inc., the financially troubled video-rental giant, to distribute movies over DSL lines. Will Viacom’s vast film archives and Enron’s broadband add up to big profits and save Blockbuster, or will they prove obsolete in the smirking face of ;)? Only accelerated online time will tell. Enron closed Wednesday up 0.87% at $72.33. Copyright (c)2000 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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