CATEGORIES 'Fone Finds
Downloading movies online can seem like risky business when you consider all the lawsuits flying around involving pirating on the Internet. Sites like The Pirate Bay (which uses the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing format) offer visitors the chance to download the latest films and TV shows, but the legality of many files on torrent sites is dubious at best.

But if you really want to download movies to your computer, it's going to cost you. Downloading movies online can seem like risky business when you consider all the lawsuits flying around involving pirating on the Internet. Sites like The Pirate Bay (which uses the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing format) offer visitors the chance to download the latest films and TV shows, but the legality of many files on torrent sites is dubious at best.

But if you really want to download movies to your computer, it's going to cost you.

Online Retail: With these sites you generally buy a movie that can only be played on your computer or a TV hooked up to your computer. They are protected files and cannot be burned onto a DVD. The reason: burned DVDs mean people can share the movie, which is lost revenue for the site; the site could also be sued by the MPAA (in theory).

iTunes Store ($10-$15)
The most popular place for downloading movies is probably the iTunes store, run by Apple. You can download some great classics and new releases. The only problem is that, like some iTunes music, it's protected under DRM (Digital Rights Management) copy protection, which means you can't burn it for viewing elsewhere. While you can use downloaded movies on any Apple product (or personal computer), you can't share it.

Blockbuster ($5-$22)

At these prices, you might as well buy the physical DVD at a store or online. Ignore Blockbuster.

Amazon Unbox ($10-$15)
Much like the iTunes store, you download Amazon's Unbox video player onto your computer, which then allows you to either rent or buy movies from Amazon. They have a very wide selection at a pretty decent price.

Cinema Now ($10-$20)
Cinema Now has a nifty feature called "burn to DVD' that allows you to burn a purchased movie onto a DVD for viewing on any DVD player -- but you have to buy it each time you burn it.

Dubious Sources: I haven't tested these sites; they seem way too good to be true, despite their claim of being totally legal.

iWatchFilm ($2-$3)
This site has all the latest movies (even some still in the theater, which is why it's probably shady) for a cheap price. You can burn movies onto a DVD and use the file however you want.

Movie Pro ($2-$5)
The latest flicks for a great price. No software needed: You can burn the file to a DVD. This site has the latest releases from Hollywood.

Movies Capital ($40 2-Year Subscription)

Here you pay a yearly subscription (2 years/$40 for unlimited movie watching) to view or download movies directly from their servers. Don't plan on seeing any good blockbusters though; this site seems to be B-movie heaven. Dolph Lundgren? Yes please!

The Movie Downloads ($12 1-Year Subscription)
SHADY. I would use this at your own risk. The site claims it's legal, but I'd bet my life that it's not.

Honestly, however, when you figure in Netflix's instant viewing service as well as their physical mailing service, I don't know why anyone would bother with any of these services. Add in Hulu and Crackle, which offer movies and TV shows legally for free, and buying movies becomes outdated.