In a landmark antitrust ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948 (United States vs. Paramount Pictures) motion picture studios were barred from owning the theaters that showed their movies. Since then, they have operated through distribution companies (most of which they own themselves) that are essentially middlemen between themselves and theater owners. A similar arrangement now exists online, whereby the studios have signed rights deals with leading video websites to sell or rent their films. But on Wednesday, Paramount, the defendant in the 1948 case, said that it is planning to eliminate the Middleman in the case of Transformers Dark of the Moon and directly offer the movie online via streaming on its own site. There'll be no price reduction, however. A standard version of the film will cost $3.99; an HD version (for Windows users only), $4.99.

06/10/2011