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OPLIN 4cast #422: Hollywood pirates

Posted in 4cast

pirate flagIt’s a little less than four weeks until the Oscar awards are handed out, so that means it’s time for…piracy! Posting pirated movies on the Internet, that is. Every year, the “screener” DVDs of nominated movies that are sent to Oscar voters find their way onto the web for illegal downloading. Screeners often are versions of the movie that have not yet been through the final processing to enhance the imaging, but are good enough for voters to rate the movie. But while movie piracy in general is on the increase, if takedown notices are any indication, a strange thing may be happening with screeners: Some of them may not be good enough for the discriminating pirate any more.

  • 95% of Oscar contenders leaked on pirate sites already (TorrentFreak | Ernesto Van Der Sar)  “What stands out immediately is how widely available the films are. Of all 2015 nominees, except documentary and foreign films, 34 of the 36 films (95%) are present on pirate sites. Only the animated feature film ‘Song of The Sea’ and best original song nominee ‘Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me’ have yet to appear online. The films that are available don’t all come in perfect quality of course. ‘Beyond the Lights,’ for example, only leaked in a CAM (camcorded) version. Most, however, are available in relatively decent screener, DVDRip or comparable quality.”
  • The cat-and-mouse game between online pirates and the Academy Awards (Allvoices | Joe Kukura)  “The vulnerable spot in the Academy ecosystem does appear to be the academy’s own voters. The voters, many of whom employ a large personal staff because they are rich and famous Hollywood people, are either complacent, unaware or in on the job. The common perceptions is that stars’ personal staff are making the copies, though this has never been verified. But it’s not as if the Academy Awards voters’ homes are being broken into and their screener DVDs stolen. Voters’ DVDs are being copied on purpose by non-intruders.”
  • High number of Oscar screeners hit pirate sites (Consumerist | Chris Morran)  “It’s not known which roommate of which member of which guild stole his friend’s DVDs and shared them with the world, but TorrentFreak reports that nearly all of the above screeners (with the exception of The Hobbit and Big Hero 6) originated from the same source. Lending credence to the notion that this is some amateur who decided to share this content with the world, TorrentFreak says that the encoding of the files being shared via BitTorrent is ‘choppy,’ implying that it’s an inexperienced pirate who ripped these files.”
  • Pirating the 2015 Oscars: HD edition (The Message | Andy Baio)  “If you’re the first to release a highly-prized film in a high-quality release, you win bragging rights over every other group. A release that’s lower quality than one already leaked by someone else? Completely worthless. A cam isn’t great, but a telesync is better. A telecine is marginally better than a telesync, but a watermarked screener? Much, much better. 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.”

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