As we've mentioned in the past, every year for over a decade, Andy Baio scours the internet to see what Oscar-nominated movies have been put online (the answer is usually almost all of them). He started this back in 2004, when the MPAA laughably claimed that the very first "screener" copy of a nominated movie had been put online. Baio realized that it was hardly the first and there were many more. His latest analysis is up
and it shows that, yet again, nearly all nominated movies are available. He's actually kept the details of every year's search in a big Google spreadsheet
There are some interesting findings in the data, including that screener copies don't matter
much any more. For years, the MPAA -- which still can't get over its piracy obsession -- insisted that screener leaks were a huge problem. Back in 2003 the MPAA wanted to ban screener DVDs entirely
, which pissed off a bunch of filmmakers who feared that their films wouldn't get voted on for the Oscars. Since then, they've focused on ridiculous proprietary systems that would only play on special DVD players -- which just pissed off viewers
. In the last few years, they've just focused on watermarked DVDs, which means that when the videos inevitably leak, they can be tracked back to whose copy leaked -- like Ellen Degeneris' copies
But, as Baio notes, in the online release market, screener copies aren't good enough:
But here’s the thing: screeners are stuck in the last decade. While we’re all streaming HD movies from iTunes or Netflix, the movie studios almost universally send screeners by mail on DVDs, which is forever stuck in low-resolution standard-definition quality. A small handful are sent in higher-definition Blu-ray.
This year, one Academy member received 68 screeners — 59 on DVD and only eight on Blu-ray. Only 13% of screeners were sent to voters in HD quality.
As a result, virtually any HD source is more prestigious than a DVD screener. And with the shift to online distribution, there’s an increasing supply of possible HD sources to draw from before screeners are ever sent to voters.
And of course, the data also shows that cammed copies (someone sitting in a theater with a camera filming it) are virtually non-existent here. This is another issue that we've covered for years, with the MPAA famously making up numbers
out of thin air concerning how big a "problem" it was. But, of course, the quality on those copies suck, and so people focus on HD, which they inevitably get.
Of this year’s 36 nominated films, 34 already leaked online in some form — everything except Song of the Sea and Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.
But only 33% of those were leaked from screeners, down from a high of 89% in 2003 and 2004.
As he notes, with the MPAA stupidly focused on screeners, they think they're winning the battle, because here's the percentage of actual screeners leaked:
So, I'm sure the content protection team
at the MPAA are all excited about this. They're vanquishing the screener piracy monster. But as Baio points out, that's bullshit, because just as many films are leaking, but in HD quality from HD sources instead of screeners:
While this year's figure is currently 89%, there's a decent chance it will go higher before the Oscars happen. As Baio notes, 44% of the films this year are HD sources, not from screeners or from retail releases.
In other words: all this effort from the "content protection" team at the MPAA yields absolutely no benefit at all.