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Lionsgate to allow more clips on YouTube

Times Staff Writer

Lionsgate said Wednesday that it would allow YouTube users to watch more of its movies and television shows, marking the top video site’s most far-reaching deal with a mainstream Hollywood studio.

The studio said YouTube users would be able to see long stretches of movies and TV shows, share them with other users and possibly edit the material or add their own content. Lionsgate will take a share of revenue from advertising viewed with the clips.

The studio behind movies including the Oscar-winning “Crash” and the horror series “Saw” stopped short of saying it would encourage consumers to upload pirated versions of its fare but didn’t rule that out for the future.

“We are not drawing any kind of lines in the sand going forward about what we might do,” said Curt Marvis, Lionsgate’s president of digital media. “One of the best ways to find out how to deal with this new age of digital distribution is to get in there and figure it out.”

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Marvis said the move grew out of the studio’s decision to distribute more shows on such free ad-supported site as Hulu, the joint venture begun by News Corp. and NBC Universal. YouTube attracts a far bigger audience, although the presence of copyrighted material has drawn criticism and a pending $1-billion lawsuit by Viacom Inc., owner of the Paramount Pictures movie studio and such cable channels as Comedy Central and MTV.

Another factor was the success of a recent campaign to promote the Lionsgate movie “The Forbidden Kingdom” by providing online clips that users could edit, rearrange and re-post, Marvis said.

Lionsgate is still deciding which movies and shows to put onto its YouTube channel later this summer and how it will restrict their use.

The arrangement was disclosed by Eric Schmidt, chief executive of YouTube parent Google Inc., at a Beverly Hills conference sponsored by trade publication Advertising Age.

Schmidt said Lionsgate might allow fans to upload their favorite scenes from “Dirty Dancing.” YouTube’s director of content partnerships, Jordan Hoffner, said the pact marked the first time a big studio would encourage that kind of activity.

The alliance demonstrates greater acceptance of a YouTube program launched in October that is designed to stem unauthorized uploading of copyrighted material. Content owners can choose to block clips from their videos from being uploaded, permit them but track how they are used and accept a share of the revenue brought in by advertising sold around those clips.

Time Warner Inc. and Walt Disney Co. were listed as early testers of the program. YouTube said more than 90% of the hundreds of participants have elected to take the money instead of blocking all uploads.

Lionsgate’s Marvis said the new effort could help wring profit from older shows and movies in the company’s deep catalog, in part by linking the clips to digital downloads or DVDs for sale.

“If someone wants to purchase a clip and share it with up to five of their friends, I don’t know, we might allow that,” he said.

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joseph.menn@latimes.com


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