Oscar Screener Piracy Less Of A Problem, Thanks To Regular Piracy

Since the MPAA tried to ban screeners of Oscar-nominated films over piracy fears in 2003, the risk of those screeners leaking to the Internet has actually fallen, according to research by journalist/programmer/dot-com founder Andy Baio. But a month before the ceremony, all but six of this year's 34 nominated films have been leaked online. Below, how movie studios' fear of piracy (okay, "stealing") was the best thing that happened to pirates. Plus, how a studio's fear of piracy kills a movie's Oscar chances.

Ripped copies of commercial DVDs have replaced screener copies, thanks to early-release DVDs from other world regions. Those DVDs, which skip the special features and image processing that go into American releases, were originally made to sell copies earlier in countries like Russia, where pirated screeners get ripped to DVD and are sold on the street. But by beating the pirates to the punch in the East, distributors helped viewers in the West get high-quality pirated movies before the Academy even got their screeners.

But that's not all the irony! Fear of piracy can also kill a film's Oscar chances. Baio noted in last year's piracy roundup that late and broken screeners probably killed Munich's Oscar shot in 2005, and that Crash won Best Picture after sending screeners to all the voters it could, while Disney took such anti-piracy pains that over a fourth of Academy voters didn't even watch its screeners, and Narnia only won Best Makeup.

Since some studios seem willing to kill their chances at an Oscar just to keep leaks off the Internet, I want to know: How many of you actually pirate movies online?