If you like watching movies on your computer, you now have another option for buying legal downloads: BitTorrent. The company, which was once notorious as an outlet for downloading illegal content, just launched BitTorrent Entertainment Network. The peer-to-peer network will offer legal downloads of movies and TV shows from the following major studios: Twentieth Century Fox, Warner, Lionsgate, Paramount/MTV and MGM. BitTorrent faces competition from Amazon, Apple through iTunes and the recently launched Wal-Mart download service. Amazon and Wal-Mart currently offer downloads from the same studios as BitTorrent, plus both have Sony/Universal and Wal-Mart has Disney; iTunes offers only Disney and Paramount entertainment.

BitTorrent Entertainment Network is offering limited-time downloads for movies ranging from $2.99 - $3.99, which is comparable to video-store rentals. You don't own the download permanently, though -- apparently the studios wanted to charge more money for buying downloads than BitTorrent felt was reasonable. And it's Windows only, with DRM protection and requiring Windows Media Player, so Mac and Linux users are left out in the cold. The company is betting that online viewers would rather pay for high-quality downloads than illegally obtain crummy bootlegs for free. I'm a little skeptical, myself -- I'd pay the $3.99 because I'm a big chicken about illegal downloading, but I suspect I'm not a typical BitTorrent user. What do you think?