Starz told Netflix to temporarily stop streaming Sony movies such as The Social Network, Salt and Easy A this week while Starz and Sony try to straighten out a complicated clause in their carriage contract. Starz’ StarzPlay service funnels Sony movies to Netflix. But Starz’ deal with Sony has a cap on the number of Internet subscribers the premium channel can serve. The problem? Netflix has grown so popular that the subscriptions to StarzPlay exceed the cap. Although the companies declined to discuss specific deal terms, the logical inference is that Starz will have to pay something to Sony in order to put its movies back on StarzPlay.

Starz says in a statement: “Sony movies have been temporarily taken down from the StarzPlay service on Netflix. All parties are working diligently to resolve the issue and return the films to Netflix members.”

Netflix disclosed the problem in a blog item this afternoon. The absence of Sony movies from StarzPlay “is the result of a temporary contract issue between Sony and Starz,” Netflix VP of Content Acquisition Pauline Fischer wrote.

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