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YouTube strikes movie rental deal with Paramount

April 4, 2012 |  5:02 am

Hugo

Google Inc.'s YouTube has struck a movie-rental deal with a fifth major Hollywood studio, Paramount Pictures, adding 500 new titles to its expanding online library.

The addition of Paramount's films brings YouTube's rental library to nearly 9,000 titles, featuring such popular mainstream movies as Martin Scorsese's Academy Award-winning "Hugo" and director Michael Bay's action-packed "Transformers" and classics including "The Godfather."

The deal reflects YouTube's strategy to provide its millions of online viewers with a range of entertainment options, from its trademark user-created video and polished Web originals to professional, long-form content.

Securing more sought-after Hollywood entertainment also supports Google's other high-profile initiatives, such as its Android mobile platform. The same movies available on YouTube also can be rented and watched on Android smartphones and tablets through Google Play.

"Paramount Pictures is one of the biggest movie studios on the planet," Malik Ducard, YouTube's director of content partnerships, said in an e-mailed statement. "We're thrilled to bring nearly 500 of their movies in the U.S. and Canada on YouTube and Google Play."

YouTube already reached on-demand agreements with Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures and Walt Disney Studios.

What's most interesting about YouTube's movie rental agreement with Paramount is that it occurred at all. 

Paramount's corporate parent, Viacom Inc., sought last fall to revive its $1-billion lawsuit against YouTube over the alleged unauthorized posting of clips from popular TV shows to the site from 2005 to 2008. Arguments were heard last October in the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, although no verdict has been rendered.

A U.S. District Court ruled in June 2010 that YouTube was protected from such infringement claims because of the "safe harbor" provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The Paramount Pictures arrangement, which one person familiar with the situation confirmed, is not without precedent: MTV , Nickelodeon and Comedy Central all have channels on YouTube.

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-- Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo of Asa Butterfield, left, plays Hugo Cabret, and Sacha Baron Cohen portrays the Station Inspector in a scene from Martin Scorsese's movie "Hugo." Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / Paramount Pictures

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