February 3rd, 2012

Have you seen all the Oscar nominated films? Did you torrent them?

Have you seen all the Oscar nominated films? Did you torrent them?

The Oscars are coming up. And while the biggest stories are always about who won what, there’s always a subplot—a techie subplot at that—that arises every year.

Academy members get to vote on the movies to determine who wins. But in order to see all of the movies, the Academy members have to get “screeners.” It’s like the Academy member’s own private Netflix of Oscar nominated films. But as with any distributed media, with distribution comes the potential for piracy.

Well, Portland’s Andy Baio has been keeping track of this whole trend. For 10 years. And this year? He’s got some interesting news to reveal: the MPAA seems to be winning.

For the last 10 years, I’ve tracked the online distribution of Oscar-nominated films, going back to 2003. Using a number of sources (see below for methodology), I’ve compiled a massive spreadsheet, now updated to include 310 films.

This year, for the first time, I’m calling it: after three years of declines, the MPAA seems to be winning the battle to stop screener leaks. But why?

Andy provides a whole bunch of interesting detail. So if you’re even remotely curious about the piracy of Oscar films, take a moment to read “Pirating the Oscars 2012: Ten Years of Data.”

Side note: When I worked at Digimarc, this was a project we were tackling. Was it possible to use digital watermarking to track Oscar screeners effectively?

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