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Universal First Studio to Make All Movie Clips Available Online

Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw
Universal Pictures/Getty Images

The deal with AnyClip can make memorable scenes from "E.T.," "Jaws" and more available by search and embeddable on Facebook.

Hoping to earn money from every snippet of a film, Universal has licensed rights to a vast portion of its library to AnyClip, a company that chops up films digitally and makes every moment searchable.

The deal is the largest in the short history of AnyClip, which, until the Universal deal to be announced Monday, mostly had rights only to independent films.

AnyClip's intentions are to sign up distribution partners like IMDb.com, Fandango, Hulu and other sites that will incorporate its abilities and movie clips into their offerings. Each clip is accompanied by an opportunity to buy or rent the entire film, and AnyClip has affiliate arrangements with iTunes, Amazon.con and Netflix.

AnyClip also intends on earning revenue through advertising, and visitors to anyclip.com can grab scenes of movies to embed on their blogs, Facebook pages or what have you.

Financial details of its relationship with Universal are being kept under wraps except that it involves a sharing of revenue between the companies. AnyClip says it is negotiating with other major studios.

AnyClip's model is based on the fact that roughly 2% of all Internet searches are related to movies and television and on the assumption that the bits of films chosen by the studio, or by pirates uploading low-grade clips, just won't suffice.

"Part of the value I see in AnyClip is this deep meta-tagging of the film," said Sam Nouri, Universal's senior manager of clip licensing. "We've not had a viewpoint into the films like this before."

AnyClip CEO Oren Nauman said each movie is painstakingly, during the course of up to 20 hours, tagged with 5,000 unique elements like character, setting, dialogue, behavior and the sorts of objects in the various scenes. The company uses its proprietary technology as well as human movie-watchers to figure it all out.

"The technology is still developing," he said. "A machine can tell you it's a car, but not a Mustang."

The search function is accurate, though not precise. Typing in "gonna need a bigger boat," for example, results in the relevant clips from Jaws but also scenes involving boats from the films Mamma Mia, Evan Almighty and 2 Fast 2 Furious.

"Part of the value of AnyClip is that it exposes you to other movies and content around the parameters that you're searching for," a spokeswoman said.

Likewise, typing "E.T. Phone Home" will get you 20 clips ranging in length of 30 seconds to two minutes each from E.T., so it's a chore -- albeit an entertaining one -- to find the exact clip one might be seeking. The search also returns a scene from Curious George where an animated character is speaking on the telephone, though there's no mention of an extra-terrestrial, or of a "home," for that matter.

"We're helping to reinvigorate interest in their films," Nauman said. "A library that has been forgotten can be brought back to life."

Nouri said it's a multiyear deal and the intent is to increase the number of films involved.

"It's less of a curator experience and more about letting users have the power to find their favorite moments from their favorite movies," he said. "That's breaking new ground."