YouTube and Paramount Pictures have reached a deal to make nearly 500 films available to rent online, even while their parent companies continue to feud over a $1 billion lawsuit.
The agreement announced Wednesday makes Paramount the fifth major Hollywood studio to join YouTube's online video store, a growing rental library that typically charges $2 to $4 per viewing. 20th Century Fox is now the only major studio holdout.
But Paramount seemed less likely to join given that its parent company, Viacom Inc., is still pursuing a 2006 lawsuit that seeks damages for alleged piracy by YouTube, which is owned by Google Inc. A federal judge in New York ruled in 2010 that YouTube hadn't broken U.S. laws governing digital piracy, but Viacom is appealing the decision.
The Paramount films will be available on YouTube Rentals and Google Play. Online movies and pay-per-view options have spurred heated competition between Google, Apple Inc.'s iTunes store, Amazon.com Inc.'s website and the subscription video service from Netflix Inc.
"Paramount Pictures is one of the biggest movies studios on the planet," said Malik Ducard, director of content partnerships at YouTube. "We're thrilled to bring nearly 500 of their films to movie fans in the U.S. and Canada on YouTube and Google Play."
The deal brings YouTube's collection to nearly 9,000 titles. For most movies, renters have up to 30 days to begin watching a video but must complete the viewing within 24 hours after starting.
Some Paramount films have already been added, while others will be made available in the next few months. Among the films are Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," Michael Bay's "Transformers" and Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather" trilogy.
NBC Universal, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., the Walt Disney Co. and many independent studios have made deals to rent their latest releases through YouTube.