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Find obscure films at popular prices

By Larry Magid
from San Jose Mercury News
Monday, February 5, 2007

 

Until last week, I wasn’t convinced the world needs yet another video download service.

 

We already have video rental services like CinemaNow and Movielink, not to mention free services like YouTube.

 

Then I saw Jaman, a video download service that focuses on foreign and independent North American films that have been shown at festivals including Sundance — the very type of movies you’re not likely to find at your local video store. And unlike other services, it has a customer-friendly pricing model.

 

Starting in late February or early March, the company the plans to charge $1.99 to rent movies and $4.99 to buy them. Now, during a public beta testing program, rentals are free. Aside from being less expensive than other services, the rental terms actually make sense.

 

Other services give you 24 hours to watch rented videos once you start viewing them. Jaman gives you unlimited access for seven days and you can transfer the movies from one PC or Mac to another. If you decide you want to keep the video, you can pay the extra $3 to upgrade to a purchase.

 

However, like other services, it can take up to two hours to download a movie using a typical DSL line.

 

They’re able to offer these more liberal terms because “the filmmakers overseas are very aggressive in approaching new forms of distribution, including digital,” said Jaman’s chief executive, Gaurav Dhillon. In other words, these companies are less paranoid and more motivated to expand their market into the United States. Dhillon said that fewer than 1 percent of all films produced in the world are distributed in the United States.

 

Of course, this is not the place to see the latest Tom Cruise blockbuster, but that’s the point. You don’t need help from an Internet start-up to find popular movies, but most of us do need a lot of help finding more obscure films.

 

Jaman provides advice on what to download from editors and other Jaman subscribers. It also supports free user-supplied content with the chance for highly rated videos to be offered for rental on a revenue-sharing basis.

 

Windows XP and Mac users can sign up for the beta program and download the required player at www.jaman.com.

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