Users can send clips to friends

Blinkbox.com, a U.K.-based film and TV download service that allows users to send personalized clips to their friends, has launched with content from Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount, Aardman and Discovery Networks.

Website went live Monday in beta format for U.K. users, and will start to roll out across Europe next year.

It offers conventional downloads of film and TV shows, but with the extra twist that users can pick out scenes — “blinks” — and forward them to other PCs or mobile devices with a personal message.

The launch lineup includes old favorites such as “The Wizard of Oz,” “Vertigo,” “The Italian Job,” “The Big Lebowski” and “The Untouchables,” and recent hits including “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Syriana” and “Superman Returns.”

Half a dozen clips from each movie of up to a minute in length are available to be sent as blinks. This costs 30 pence (61 cents) to a mobile phone, but is free to a PC. The blinks will be preceded by a three-second advertisement, and followed by a message inviting the recipient to download the whole movie.

Essentially, the blink concept is an attempt to harness viral marketing to a movie download site.

Negotiations are under way with all the other U.S. majors to provide their content to the service.

BlinkBox Entertainment was founded in 2006 by former Channel 4 and Atom exec Michael Comish, who serves as CEO, and former Vodafone exec Adrian Letts, who is chief operating officer.

The original backing came from Arts Alliance, which also owns the online DVD rental and movie download service Lovefilm, and Eden Ventures. A second round of investment was secured in June from Nordic Venture Partners.

The founders have spent the past 18 months developing and testing the proprietary technology that makes the blinks possible, and persuading content owners to sign up.

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