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Never heard of them until now. Amazing how they make it seem like
$0.99 is all it costs. The DVDs are mailed (in plain envelopes!)
so what are the chances of them coming through unscathed?
They claim upfront that you are warranteed against damage, but
here is the fine print:

"In addition, in the event a User claims more three (3) instances of a
lost, broken, incorrect, scratched or otherwise problematic DVD per
one hundred (100) DVDs received by that User, Company may, at its sole
and complete discretion, determine that the User is not eligible for
the Peersafe Protection Program and Company may elect not to apply any
credit to the individual's account for such lost, broken, incorrect,
scratched or otherwise problematic DVDs. In addition to suspending or
terminating a User's account or access to the Site or Services,
Company may pursue any remedies available at law."

The story:
Your old DVD of "The English Patient" has been sitting on your shelves
since you got it; meanwhile you want to get the DVD of "Saw II" but
don't want to pay $20 at a retail store. How do these relate? If
you're a user of online service Peerflix, you can trade your DVDs for
different movies at just 99 cents per trade plus the cost of a stamp.

Peerflix, which was unveiled in September 2005, uses a peer-to-peer
approach to movie sharing.

"Peerflix lets people take DVDs they have laying around collecting
dust, and trade them for movies they want to see," said Billy McNair,
co-founder of Peerflix.

McNair said that he and co-founder Danny Robinson conceived the idea
in 2003, when McNair realized that he was buying children's DVDs for
his young daughter that Robinson already had for his daughter and
didn't use anymore.

Today, Peerflix boasts 200,000 users, all in the United States and
Canada, according to McNair. He also estimated that tens of thousands
of trades take place per month, with that number "scaling

Users keep a list of what DVDs they want, as well as what movies they
have available to send out. Peerflix matches users up based on
geography and waiting time.

When Peerflix asks a user to send a DVD, they supply a document that
users print out and fold, creating a pre-addressed envelope in which
to send the disc. At the same time the user is sending that disc out,
he should be receiving his requested DVD from another user.

Peerflix charges 99 cents per trade, with no subscription fee, though
McNair said Peerflix is currently devising a subscription-based plan
for high-volume users.

Once a trade is made, the user now owns his new DVD and can keep it or
re-trade it as he sees fit.

"A key feature of Peerflix is the legality of it," McNair said.
"Because ownership does transfer, the Peerflix model is a full legal

Peerflix runs an internal currency system called Peerbux, which
assigns values to the discs being traded. Generally most movies are
worth 2 Peerbux, with new releases worth 3 and low-value discs worth

Multi-disc sets such as television show box sets are worth more,
depending on the number of discs in the set.

When a user trades his DVD, he is credited the appropriate amount of
Peerbux, which he can then put towards DVDs he wants to acquire.
McNair said this is done to keep people from getting rid of their
bargain-rack DVDs in exchange for popular releases.

"We're trying to protect against users taking older, lower-value
titles and being able to trade them equally for 'Crash' or 'Walk the
Line,' for example," said McNair.

In addition to gaining Peerbux by sending out DVDs, users can also
purchase them for $5 apiece.

McNair noted that because of the quick turnover time, new releases are
often available immediately when they are put on sale.

"Immediately, there are always new titles the day they come out in the
system," he said. "Every title, new release or otherwise, is out

McNair said that while availability improves after getting past the
release date, "the availability of titles rivals what you would find
in any retail segment."

Though many are focused on the online future of films, McNair said he
is not concerned with online films muscling DVDs out of the market.

"If you look at real data, (online) is a ways off," he said. "There's
a very limited amount of content available, and there will be very
little for years to come."

McNair said he believes that DVD will be the primary means of viewing
movies at home for at least the next five years.

"The average consumer isn't going to be using (the Internet) to watch
films for a while," he said.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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