In seeking to combat piracy, Hollywood studios are to offer Internet movie downloads at the same time that major blockbusters enter retail stores in DVD form. Universal Pictures International plans to introduce a "download to own" service in Britain in partnership with LoveFilm, an online video rental company. The industry, which has been burned by illegal copying of DVDs and trading of movies on the Internet, is being forced to embrace digital distribution.

"Download-to-own has the potential to completely revolutionize the way people watch movies," said Peter Smith, president of Universal Pictures International, part of the NBC Universal division of General Electric. "The entertainment industry is changing rapidly, with the introduction of new delivery channels to consumers and an emphasis on instant access."