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MPAA Calls for Ban on Screeners 442

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the oscar-judges-found-guilty dept.
neoThoth writes "The MPAA is calling for a ban on all screeners for awards ceremonies. They state piracy as the rationale for killing of this tradition of the industry. It's interesting how this is never mentioned in their cries for tougher piracy laws. It's own members are the main source of piracy. 'The Directors, Writers and Screen Actors Guild all get screeners, as does the Golden Globe-selecting Hollywood Foreign Press Association and various critics' groups.'" Remember, movie piracy doesn't just hurt actors, but also camera operators, key grips, makeup artists, and costumers.
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MPAA Calls for Ban on Screeners

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  • by mr.henry (618818) * on Saturday September 27, 2003 @11:58AM (#7072179) Journal
    Man, this is weak. I always look forward Academy screener time. I get to toss out my old, crappy telesync SVCDs and replace them with pristine DVD-Rs.
  • by Frederique Coq-Bloqu (628621) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @11:58AM (#7072181) Journal
    they should have the right to influence something like this at a private function like the Oscars. This doesn't strike me as provocative or unscrupulous in and of itself.
    • If the executives & stars didn't make so much, they wouldn't need to charge so much--which would lead to less piracy. Piracy increases as with cost of the product increases while the quality of the product stays the same or declines.
      • Yeah, and also on that line, maybe if politicians earned more money they would stop smuggling drugs in and laundering profits through Swiss bank accounts.
      • Piracy may very well increase as you describe, but piracy also happens regardless of cost escalation. Piracy happens become the product/work/whatever isn't free in the first place, and some people would rather thieve it than buy it.
        • by NanoGator (522640) on Sunday September 28, 2003 @02:56AM (#7076051) Homepage Journal
          "Piracy happens become the product/work/whatever isn't free in the first place, and some people would rather thieve it than buy it."

          Correction: Piracy happens when something is unreasonably priced and there's an audience for it. Piracy isn't a big issue here in the USA. The price is a little on the high side, but still affordable. DVD retailers are making money quite comfortably. Now, go somewhere with a lower cost of living, and piracy is rampant.

          Piracy is an extension of supply and demand, though the MPAA or RIAA will never admit to that.
      • If the executives & stars didn't make so much, they wouldn't need to charge so much

        Yes, it must kill people to have to pay 15 whole dollars for a DVD, especially since the MPAA is sitting next to them with a handgun demanding that they buy as many as possible.

        Film fans should be *incredibly* happy with the prices of DVDs. Movies from a decade or two ago can generally be had for about $10. That's less than seeing a full-price show in a lot of theatres now, and yet some people expect to pay even less?
    • by startled (144833) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:16PM (#7072300)
      But why bother? The studio mailing out the tapes is the studio whose movie gets illegally distributed. There's no need for an MPAA recommendation; if a studio thinks its movies are being distributed by screeners, they can stop mailing them out, or take whatever other measures they deem appropriate.
      • The problem is that a movie that gets sent out as a screener has an advantage over movies that don't when it comes to oscar time. Therefore, a major studio isn't likely to stop sending out screeners if the other studios are still sending them.

        Then their is the concern that if somehow screeners are banned entirely that would put the indie films at a major disadvantage due to the difficulty of getting to one of their limited screenings.
  • by GMontag (42283) <gmontag@@@guymontag...com> on Saturday September 27, 2003 @11:59AM (#7072184) Homepage Journal
    Remember, movie piracy doesn't just hurt actors, but also camera operators, key grips, makeup artists, and costumers.

    Don't forget the Best Boy!
    • Gaffers (Score:3, Funny)

      by Scrameustache (459504)

      Remember, movie piracy doesn't just hurt actors, but also camera operators, key grips, makeup artists, and costumers.

      Don't forget the Best Boy!

      And the gaffer!
      My personnal favourite:

      One entry found for gaffe. [webster.com]
      Main Entry: gaffe
      Pronunciation: 'gaf
      Function: noun
      Etymology: French, gaff, gaffe
      Date: 1909
      : a social or diplomatic blunder

      Oh, to be paid to make diplomatic blunders...
      : )

    • Re:Don't forget. (Score:3, Informative)

      by VCAGuy (660954) *
      Actually, it doesn't really hurt the sound/video/light/CGI/FX/whatever crews [i.e. the celeried/salaried workers]--they get paid regardless...it's the people who's pay is a percentage that see less money. And why not? If they were stupid enough to go for a job offer with a percent sign...well, you know. ;-)

      Disclaimer: I'm a lighting tech with a low opinion of directors, actors, acresses, and PR people...

      • Re:Don't forget. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Minna Kirai (624281)
        they get paid regardless

        If the film is less successful, the chances of that producer making another picture goes down. Widespread infringement of motion pictures (which hasn't happened yet, but is on the near horizon) would reduce the total number of Hollywood films.

        Fewer sound/video/light crews will be needed. Some of those people will be completely unemployed, the rest will scramble for lower wages than they got before.

        So yes, in the short term of a single movie's profitability, the lowly techs get
  • by l810c (551591) * on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:01PM (#7072195)
    Remember, movie piracy doesn't just hurt actors, but also camera operators, key grips, makeup artists, and costumers.

    You forgot the fluffers

  • Easier solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Night Goat (18437) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:01PM (#7072202) Homepage Journal
    I don't see why the MPAA just doesn't make slight, but easily noticeable differences between each screener. Maybe have a numeric code flash quickly onto the screen occasionally. Like what they do if there's a spy but they don't know who, they give out fake information and see which fake info the enemy acts on. If a certain coded screener gets pirated, then the MPAA knows who to send the lawsuit to.
    I can't see David Letterman actually going and PAYING to see all the crap movies that his guests make!
    • Re:Easier solution (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I've seen tracking numbers on screeners before, but usually the group who releases it smudges a couple numbers out before uploading it -- so the ID can't be traced back to anyone.

      Also, I think there are literally thousands of Academy screeners sent. It would be a real bitch to do.

    • Re:Easier solution (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Neph (5010)

      Something like that might work, but not quite as obvious as what you're describing -- the hypothetical pirate would merely have to edit the movie by blacking out the code, and poof, it's untraceable again.

      However, I could see something subtler -- some sort of complex steganography, fractional-second differences in the length of certain scenes (credit roll time?) etc. etc. Could be done...

      • Re:Easier solution (Score:3, Interesting)

        by EvanED (569694)
        The credit roll time could be a very possible option; with other things you take the chance of losing the stenography with the compression.
      • Re:Easier solution (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:40PM (#7072452)
        I am a pirate. I've seen steganography in action, admittedly in a different field, but I've seen it, and have the desire to obviously protect the privacy of my sources at all costs, as have virtually all groups. I have little experience of movie piracy directly, but I know a few people and I know exactly how they'd handle this.

        Always get more than one source. Compare. More than two would be good too. This goes double if it's an analog source, because you could work between them and get a better quality.

        Any per-source steganography will be noticed, and any steganography that wouldn't be noticed by multiple sources wouldn't narrow down the source hunt.

        Additionally, you need to be aware that some sources are BEFORE any such steganography would be added. Ever considered the possibility that the guys who'd put the steganography in are, in fact, the guys who work as group and pro sources, getting paid more for that than their day job?

        Besides, this will merely lead to a shift from DVD screeners to the even more incredible phenomenon of the telecine. Done correctly, this can be better than retail DVD quality in some cases. Once a film is out there are thousand of copies of it. Two or three digitally sampled masters from actual analog film reels, and you could remove film grain as well as steganography, leading to better compression. All you need is unrestricted access to a couple of movie theaters. I wouldn't be surprised to learn of groups whose members not only work in movie theaters as projectionists, but actually fucking own them.

        The movie industry doesn't have much to fear from piracy compared to the music industry. They aren't quite as jaded, they aren't quite as crap, they don't have quite as much control as they think they have, and much more importantly they really aren't anywhere near as overpriced. And there is significant value added in seeing a good projection at a cinema vs. even a really good quality telecine/DVD-rip, and they make the serious money from concessions anyway. They'll still be around, and they'll still be busy.

        Meanwhile the music industry is caught trying to do the same thing, but frankly, the problem is it just sucks. Concerts ain't so good, and are WAY overpriced, and hard to run, and irregular, and get massive rushes of people, whereas cinema screenings are small and can happen in several places at once. Music industry really doesn't have an easy way out of this. The movie industry, by comparison, has it made.

        Note that the first people to get something out will probably fail to do this. The first releasers are at very high risk, as they traditionally rush and race to be first. Most people wait for the ones with a marginally greater eye for quality and detail (Centropy et al), and those are the ones who will survive stego. Weed out the crap groups, that's what I say!
        • Re:Easier solution (Score:4, Interesting)

          by athorshak (652273) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @01:28PM (#7072764)
          Two or three digitally sampled masters from actual analog film reels, and you could remove film grain as well as steganography, leading to better compression

          while I agree with the rest of your post, you should NOT be trying to remove film grain. Grain is an intentional part of the image. Different film stocks are chosen for different films and scenes specifically for their grain structure. On film where this is obvous to even a casual viewer is Minority Report. Speilberg gave this film an intetionally overexposed and extremely grainy look. You should NEVER try to remove grain from a film image.
    • Re:Easier solution (Score:2, Informative)

      by e5z8652 (528912)
      Didn't they do exactly that with The Hulk?

      It was released early & they knew exactly who to go after.

      www.4law.co.il (pdf) [4law.co.il]
    • Re:Easier solution (Score:3, Informative)

      by dapuk (603973)
      This has already been done - by using dark dots in a specific pattern on some frames....

      See here [vcdquality.com] and here [vcdquality.com]

      Though that site seems a bit dead right now - so just have a look at google [google.com]

    • Because you then have to remaster _each_ dvd, and have to burn each one, not press it. Money.
    • Re:Easier solution (Score:5, Interesting)

      by doormat (63648) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:53PM (#7072541) Homepage Journal
      Yea, they do.. its called dots... they use a series of dots in various frames throughout the movie to track where the copies come from. Of course the warez groups are on to this, and photoshop the frames that contain the dots to remove or alter them to protect their suppliers...
    • Yeah, he'd have to go to that little theater in Malibu which doesn't let celebrities in free. (If they did, revenue would be way down.)
    • Re:Easier solution (Score:3, Informative)

      by bigfatlamer (149907)
      I can't see David Letterman actually going and PAYING to see all the crap movies that his guests make!

      And he wouldn't have to. SAG, Director's Guild, etc. members and other eligible Oscar voters get into see films nominated for awards for free in the time leading up to the voting. This is why so many candidate films are re-released (at least in NYC and LA) so that they have more chances to be seen by voters just before they vote.
  • You know... (Score:4, Funny)

    by c0dedude (587568) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:02PM (#7072209)
    And, while they're at it, why don't they just stop making movies all togather! That way, there'd be no piracy! Or not have awards! Or not release DVDs or VHS! Wouldn't that be great? And you can't trust theater bootlegs either, so no theaters!
    • " And, while they're at it, why don't they just stop making movies all togather!"


      I thought they already did.

  • Makes Sense (Score:2, Informative)

    Their fight against piracy should begin at home. You can't sue people randomly if your own members are copying the stuff you send them. When the start sueing people, I will feel ever so slightly less annoyed with them.
  • by neilb78 (557698)
    I for one welcome our MPAA non-screening overloards.
  • Not only actors? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by caranha (680518) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:06PM (#7072227)
    Remember, movie piracy doesn't just hurt actors, but also camera operators, key grips, makeup artists, and costumers.

    Whithout entering the merit of piracy itself, isn't this argument a fallacy? Aren't only high-profile actors/diretors/etc rewarded a percentage of the movie income, while all the others receive the same no matter what?

    Don't want to enter the issue "but piracing will make movies spend less money" (which I doubt, based on current trend), but I got curious by this part.

    --
    No sig yet. Bear with it.
    • Re:Not only actors? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by p00ya (579445)

      Aren't only high-profile actors/diretors/etc rewarded a percentage of the movie income, while all the others receive the same no matter what?

      but piracing will make movies spend less money

      Some (overly?)simple economics:

      people pirating movies makes it harder for the producers to earn money (less revenue because people aren't paying to watch the movies). So in order to retain their profits, they must cut costs. One of the ways they can do this is to pay their employees (actors and non-actors) less. If pi

      • by kfg (145172)
        "Perhaps the current trends (to spend more money on better effects etc) are actually reflective of a need to get audiences to come to theatres (to get a better experience than they'd get with their home 5.1 surround and 17" monitor)."

        Or perhaps they could simply start making better movies that rely on story, acting, direction and other such old fashioned notions?

        Just a thought.

        I think I'll spend the afternoon rewatching Harvey, To Have and Have Not and Dr. Strangelove.

        KFG
        • Re:Not only actors? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Minna Kirai (624281)
          Or perhaps they could simply start making better movies that rely on story, acting, direction and other such old fashioned notions?

          Which reduces the need for elaborate staging and effects.
          Which reduces the amount of support staff needed for complex shots. Which brings us back to the idea of hurting "camera operators, key grips, makeup artists, and costumers".
    • by SWPadnos (191329) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @01:02PM (#7072605)
      Remember, movie piracy doesn't just hurt actors, but also camera operators, key grips, makeup artists, and costumers.

      ...

      Don't want to enter the issue "but piracing will make movies spend less money" (which I doubt, based on current trend), but I got curious by this part.

      This is the only argument that can possibly support the original statement. Only the people at the top level get any residuals - everyone else works for a daily wage and that's it. In fact, most people are working as subcontractors hired for the duration of the project (or their part in it). The grips, production assistants, special effects people, camera assistants, caterers, craft services, drivers, extras ... are all essentially self-employed. The unions help by providing health insurance and pension plans, and collective bargaining.

      So, the only way that the "bottom of the pack" people get affected is if the industry as a whole goes into a slump because of piracy.

  • Will this affect the screeners video stores recieve? The pirates will still get the movies in DVD quality format before they're released, it may just take a few more weeks.
  • by JayBlalock (635935) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:08PM (#7072240)
    Being able to stick "200X ACADEMY AWARD WINNER!" on your DVD package moves too many units for any studio to do ANYTHING to handicap themselves in the Awards race. The MPAA might push for this. The studios might even "agree." But they'll get the screeners out anyway. Paranoia will rule the day - no one will actually expect anyone else to abide by the agreement, so they'll all break it.

    It's foolish that they're even TALKING about this. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that this means the movie industry's own people are the ones bootlegging movies. "If the people who make the movies are putting them out there, then how's it wrong for me to download?" (rhetorical, exampliary question) Bad, bad, BAD move.

    • by Murdock037 (469526) <(tristranthorn) (at) (hotmail.com)> on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:44PM (#7072486)
      You're on to something, but I think there's a bit of a misunderstanding in general with a bunch of the posts.

      What the MPAA wants to stop is Oscar screeners. These are DVDs and tapes sent to Academy members of movies that are eligible for Oscars. It's a way to get somebody to see your movie, without making them go to the theater.

      (Screeners are a mixed blessing. Smaller movies benefit from them, because they are often shut out of the multiplex too quickly or may just work better on a smaller screen, such as Moulin Rouge or even The Pianist; they also serve to remind Academy members of the movies that aren't still in theaters in December and January, when the voting is done. On the other hand, home viewing dilutes the power of some movies, such as Lord of the Rings or Saving Private Ryan. Screeners are generally blamed for Shakespeare in Love winning out over Saving Private Ryan a few years ago, for the reasons I've listed.)

      The problem is this: there are politics involved. It may not be fair, for example, that Seabiscuit will be on DVD at your local Blockbuster by the end of the year, and so Academy viewers will be able to watch that at home, but not anything that was released after summer or so. That's an unfair advantage.

      And there's the question of whether or not screeners really prevent piracy anyways. A telesync is usually out before the movie's even in theaters, of course, and the selling of individual screener discs can be curtailed by putting a serial number on them and monitoring eBay.

      The MPAA is somewhat like OPEC. You've got a coalition with similar interests but conflicts within the organization, and none of the members are hesitant to bend the rules for their own gain, if they can get away with it. And Oscar is more than enough motivation.

      For some decent discussion of this, check out David Poland's Hot Button [thehotbutton.com] in the last week, particularly this column. [thehotbutton.com]
      • Well, the Oscars have NEVER been fair. We all know, the closer a movie comes out to Oscar time, the better the chances it has. Any movie released from around Jan to April, no matter how terrific, has virtually no chance of winning an Oscar because it'll be forgotten by the time ballots come out, DVD or not. (yes, I know there are a few exceptions, but on the whole early-year releases are the awards graveyard)

        And, of course, the ultimate thing to declare from all this is that piracy CANNOT be prevented.

  • Or maybe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:09PM (#7072253)

    crappy leaked watermarked screeners add hype to a film making the desire and street buzz even greater with hundreds of kids promoting it and spreading good words making the film a "must see"

    or

    of course they might oppose it if the movie sucks as they need to rip off /decieve the public to try and reclaim the money they pissed away paying the likes of J-lo and other shite actors 15million $ for 20min of crappy dialog that even a TV serial company would laugh at, are some actors worth 1000's of dollars a second while the Grip/soundman/operators get 200$ a DAY if they are lucky

    • while the Grip/soundman/operators get 200$ a DAY if they are lucky

      Gee, poor them. Maybe the MPAA needs to realize that, to the kids that're doing a large part of the downloading and spreading - high-school and college aged - $200/day is an ungodly amount of money. They're never going to feel sorry for someone that's getting paid even at that level.
  • not quite . . . (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    not true:

    Remember, movie piracy doesn't just hurt actors, but also camera operators, key grips, makeup artists, and costumers.

    The crew is paid by the hour, rates established by union contract. The crew does not share in profits or residuals. Whether a picture is a hit or a dog, it makes no difference; once the picture is in the can, that is the end of the crew's involvement.

    This is not to condone piracy, but how dare the moguls drag in the very folks whom they the moguls abuse the most. Claiming that p

  • by Chromal (56550) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:10PM (#7072261) Homepage
    I never really got how piracy hurt X. There's a large segment of pirating acts that occur largely because the pirates aren't going to purchase something. If they aren't going to buy it, or they aren't going to buy it but still pirate it-- either way, the net income is exactly the same. If consumers can afford something, won't they typically go out of their way to own it? A DVD or CD album is always nicer to have on your shelf than a DVD-R or CD-R copy, after all.
    • by IIRCAFAIKIANAL (572786) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:29PM (#7072382) Journal
      There's a large segment of pirating acts that occur largely because the pirates aren't going to purchase something.

      Neither you nor the MPAA has proven that either way, last time I checked. The MPAA (and RIAA and BSA) likes to say that they lose revenue, whereas copyright infringers justify their behaviour by saying they wouldn't pay for the crappy movie/game/software/music anyhow.

      I call BS on both those statements. I imagine the truth is somewhere in the middle...
    • If consumers can afford something, won't they typically go out of their way to own it?

      No. Experience has shown that consumers usually won't go out of their way to do anything; they'll pick the quickest, cheapest way to get what they want.

      It's ambiguous how much piracy is hurting them here, but if you go overseas to places where the vast majority of movies/software/music is pirated, you can definitely see what the MPAA/Microsoft/RIAA is afraid of happening here.
  • by k98sven (324383) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:10PM (#7072264) Journal
    I mean, does anyone really give a damn about the Oscars?

    It's the industry celebrating itself in a annual act of masturbation on national TV.

    If you disagree, please explain why Kevin Costner has a "Best Director" award but not Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock or Akira Kurosawa?

    • by skribe (26534) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @01:01PM (#7072603) Homepage
      Hitchcock never won because he was up against other 'greats': Billy Wilder (The Apartment & The Lost Weekend), John Ford (The Grapes of Wrath), Elia Kazan (On the Waterfront) and Leo McCarey (Going My Way).

      Likewise Kubrick lost out to Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest); William Friedkin (French Connection); Carol Reed (Oliver); and George Cukor (My Fair Lady).

      Kurosawa lost out primarily because he was Japanese, but also because his solitary directorial nomination was up against Sydney Pollack's Out of Africa.

      Costner may have been up against supremely qualified directors (Scorsese and Coppola) but it was IMHO hardly their best work (Goodfellas and Godfather III respectively).

      To summarise, Costner had a weaker field than either Kubrick or Hitchcock. As far as Kurosawa is concerned IIRC there's only ever been one non-english language winner of Best Director/Best Film (Vita e bella, La). It sucks but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

      skribe

  • by indros13 (531405) * on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:13PM (#7072280) Homepage Journal
    So screeners will have to actually go to the theater to watch a movie instead of having a copy at home? [sarcasm] *sniff* [/sarcasm]


    It might give them some appreciation for jumping movie ticket prices. And don't even get me started on the $5 bucket beverage...

    • At the same time, theaters owners have taken a stance against the long-held practice of providing free admittance to members of these guilds and associations.

      So until they stop that practice, viewers can go to the movies and still not pay. Although I guess they do have to pony up for popcorn.

      The article also mentions that studios will set up screenings sometimes too, which I'm sure are free

  • >Remember, movie piracy doesn't just hurt actors, >but also camera operators, key grips, makeup >artists, and costumers.

    Why be sarcastic about this? Its the truth, isn't it? I thought this is WHAT Slashdot wanted---instead of suing people the MPAA is educating them on why they should buy a DVD instead of copy their friend's.

    First the general Slashdot position was "Don't shut down P2P, shut down the criminals." Then it was "Don't shut down the criminals, they don't know any better." Now it is
    • by Joe Tie. (567096) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:29PM (#7072381)
      You know what bugs me? When people refer to a giant slashdot collective, as if everyone here thought the same things about every issue. Did you ever thing that perhaps it could have been different people posting whose opinion you're remembering, or even that you could simply be remembering the slant you want to remember from discussions with multiple viewpoints?
    • Actually, its not true. Movies are made by getting a whopper loan from the production source. This churns the machine, in the efforts of the producer/director/minions to stretch that out or focus it where need be.

      If the movie flops, which is a big difference from paying back that laon (remember, studios want interest and lots of it) then they become a little wary of things about that movie (the direction, the story, the competition, the actors). Perhaps they try something else.

      But we are miles, miles a
    • I find those commercials funny,the ones saying that pirating movies takes money away from stage hands, etc.

      Is it that hard to not pay 1 or 2 people on the set outragous amounts of money? I mean, going to the heart of it, it doesn't matter who is actually acting in a movie at all. as long as they do a good job. Take any good movie and put in mediocre actors. If it's bad then, we'll then it wasn't a good movie to begin with.
      You take these actors, and force them to baically play the same personality movi
    • Why be sarcastic about this?

      I believe that you are mixing things up. The sarcasm was centered on the commercial, not on the idea of what the MPAA is trying to teach. I, for one, appreciate the sarcasm. These commercials are stupid and treat the movie going audience as ignorant. I don't need to be reminded that thousands of people went into make the Lord of the Rings series and that these same people might have their bottom line hurt by movie piracy.

      First the general Slashdot position was "Don't shu
  • other screeners (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sdibb (630075) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:16PM (#7072304)
    The other screeners are the ones that work at the local movie theater.

    Before every movie is played in the theater, the projectionist has to build it and *someone* has to watch every single movie before it's played to make sure the reels aren't put on backwards or in the wrong order or something like that. Anyone who's worked at the movie theater knows what late Thursday nights are like.
  • Canary Trap (Score:3, Informative)

    by overshoot (39700) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:17PM (#7072307)
    Someone needs to give these idiots a clue or two. With only a trivial effort in steganography they could "watermark" each copy uniquely. That way if if some reviewer leaked his copy they'd have evidence to nail him to the wall.
    • Re:Canary Trap (Score:2, Informative)

      by t_allardyce (48447)
      They do, ive seen a divx of Bowling for Columbine that includes a warning to that extent. Maybe soon they'll stick that in all films and make sure you enter your name and address at the store so it can be tied to your dvds unique number - it would have to be pretty rugged tho - able to with-stand divx-ing and resizing and anything else rippers could think of, even then people would just do it outside america.
    • While this would prove where the film was SENT, it wouldn't prove that the reviewer pirated it. I'm sure it passes through other hands on the way to the reviewer.

      They COULD use it as a black list though. "We sent you a movie, and someone close to you pirated it. While this isn't enough to sue you, we aren't going to risk sending you anymore movies. Sucks for your reviewing career"
  • by fervent_raptus (664099) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:17PM (#7072308)
    I think the MPAA is totally overacting. How many geeks out there are actually going to substitute a DivX for the cinimatic experience of going to a movie theater?

    Personally, I know people who had access to the LOTR DVD screener rip, and downloaded it, but waited to watch it until after the movie came out.

    They then proceeded to watch the movie in theaters 3 or 4 times before ever playing the DivX file.

    It wasn't until the period between the movie leaving theaters and coming out on DVD that the DivX file came in handy.

    These friends not only purchased the regular version DVD when it came out, but also the extended version DVD.

    IMO, if the MPAA want's to stop the popularity of DVD Screener rips, they should release the movie in DVD the same week it comes to theaters.
    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:41PM (#7072464) Homepage Journal
      You're right, of course. But it is an article of faith among the entertainment cartel that 1 copied file == 1 lost sale. Just as the RIAA is unwilling to consider the idea that file-sharing might actually help sales of good music (people do go out and buy albums after hearing a couple of good MP3's off those albums; but the albums they buy are more likely to be from obscure bands rather than whatever insipid Top 40 pap is currently getting all the advertising bucks) the MPAA is unwilling to consider the idea that a movie made to be seen in the the theater (as the LOTR films definitely are) might, if first seen on a pirated DVD, actually help draw people into the theater to see it. This is not a rational cost-benefit analysis on their part; it's a matter of paranoid ideology. The long, sad history of how paranoid ideologues react when confronted by sweet reason does nothing to convince me that they'll change their minds any time soon.

      Actually, it's not just the entertainment industry that think this way. How many times do we hear M$ et al. claiming "Software piracy cost us $XX billion in lost sales last year," as though everyone who burned a copy of an Office CD would otherwise have gone out and bought the damn thing for full price? At least in the software industry it's a little wink-wink nudge-nudge, though; e.g., Adobe knows full well that all the Photoshop copies out there are training the next generation of Adobe customers. But the entertainment folks are dead serious in their wacko worldview.
  • Remember... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wozster (514097) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:19PM (#7072321) Journal
    The auto industry doesn't just hurt the "Horse and Buggy" industry, it also hurts the wooden wheel maker.
  • by Whomever (35291) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:19PM (#7072325) Homepage
    Doesn't selling DVDs and videos contribute to piracy as well? I mean, if the pirates couldn't buy the DVDs or videos in the first place, it would be harder to copy them. I think they should ban the sale of DVDs ;) And while their at it, the practice of renting them contributes to a ton of piracy. Therefore, Blockbuster and it's smaller competitors should be banned from renting DVDs or videos to consumers.
  • Not true (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 1+(smarterThanYou) (539258) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @12:22PM (#7072338) Homepage
    Remember, movie piracy doesn't just hurt actors, but also camera operators, key grips, makeup artists, and costumers. Actually based on how the movie industry operates...these people were all compensated before the release of the movie. They work in a union and most of them don't do anything on the set anyways....they are just the backup in case the head guy takes an extra coffee break. The only people really getting screwed are the ones that distribute and produce the movies. Distributors make a good percentage of theater profits, having to take care of the end of producing additional prints of the film and then securing contracts with theaters to show them. Producers also make a percentage of ticket sales, but also make a percentage on every DVD/VHS/Any-Future-Media purchase. Theaters make a very small percentage, if at all, and obviously make their money off the concessions. Distributors and Theaters will re-negotiate their deals based on how the movie does during the opening weekend. What is also BS is that typically more than half of the proceeds from movie tickets is made on opening weekend. So in the time it would take a person to video tape it and distribute it, if this person isn't an insider at the movie theater or at the studio/distribution house, it would only affect subsequent weekends which are much less important. Long story short, it doesn't affect any of those people, just the people who are taking a percentage of the profits from DVD sales, i.e. Production Company, Distribution Company, Investors, (sometimes actors).
  • I wonder if theyll ever create a kind of disc that the media breaks down as the laser passes over it. Aka, one time read or maybe two or three times read.
  • by VargrX (104404)
    Remember, movie piracy doesn't just hurt actors, but also camera operators, key grips, makeup artists, and costumers.


    I'll care when the MPAA signature companies start to make making original films again, not rehashing stuff that's 20+ years old....

  • Damn near every channel on TV has one of those stupid logos in the bottom corner. Seems like it would be no problem at all to put a serial number down there. If all of the movies had their screeners numbered this way, then there'd be no way for the judges to 'punish' an individual film for doing it. The pirates would have to black out that corner (and maybe that number could move around from place to place). At best, it would discourage insiders from giving away copies, and at worst it would make the pirate
    • The pirates would have to black out that corner (and maybe that number could move around from place to place). At best, it would discourage insiders from giving away copies, and at worst it would make the pirated editions look more obvious.

      As opposed to the big scrolling. "This movie is for awards consideration only. If you paid money for this, please call 1-800-NO-COPYS" message? I have a filter that would blur that sucker right out (without looking too ugly) - people really just don't care.
  • Ok, maybe I'm being dense here, but does piracy of in-theater movies _really_ hurt the industry? I mean, are there really people out there who are downloading movies INSTEAD of going to theaters?

    I can certainly understand anti-piracy efforts aimed at curbing DVD-ripping -- that's combatting people who don't want to pay $15 or whatever to buy a DVD -- same kind of people who pirate software, me thinks.

    But are there really that many people who will download a current-run movie INSTEAD of going to see it in
    • They don't have this problem so much with action flicks, but comedies and the like often are only worth seeing once, especially with the crap the MPAA is currently putting out. Think about it. If you downloaded a movie that was supposed to be "funny", and it was a total bomb, would you still pay the $6.50 (or $8.50 as the case may be) to go see it? Perhaps you might, but many people (myself included) wouldn't.
  • Once the movie is available for sale on DVD, it's gonna be pirated anyway. i dont' see what's the big deal about screeners. I admit that i downlaod screeners for movies that don't have a DVD yet. But it it's a good movie i still buy the dvd. Remember, DVD movies are better than rips. This isn't music after all.
  • A few solutions:

    1. Give out the screener in some mass-produced player thats all encrypted and erases itself after a week. Open it or try anything funny and it wipes itself.

    2. Have actual screeners, you know, rent a theater.

    3. Watermark the crap out of them.

    I like the idea of a special DRM player. The MPAA can weigh the benefits of courting the vote of the academy members with the cost of the devices.
  • I mean lets get real here.. a movie most times is over a gig in size and not many people can acheive the full download speed anyways. (I'm speaking from a p2p perspective and not 2 buddies with t3's at work passing them on)

    But I know many people who have bootlegs of movies and considering the 8 dollar plus snacks and quality/crowding issues at theatres nowdays it's a wonder nobody makes returns to the movie no matter how good it is..

    I've avoided opening nights on fridays and just have gone on a sunday or
  • Remember, movie piracy doesn't just hurt actors, but also camera operators, key grips, makeup artists, and costumers.

    I'm not sure that it hurts anyone but the movie companies. The movies that are pirated are being made, and therefore, the people who help to make them are still getting paid for their work.

    The MPAA isn't going to say "we aren't going to make movies anymore because a few people pirate them." The majority of people are still going to go to the theater or buy the DVD if they want to see a mo

  • Many actors, directors, and other talent have contracts that require the studios to send out screeners -- so that they have a chance in the Oscar competition. Not to cast aspersions on particular movies, but I don't think we would have gotten some of these films if it weren't for contractual obligations. I don't think the MPAA can abrogate these contracts post hoc, although they may not get written in the future.

    The other issue is that the Awards show has been moved up this year, to the point where scree
  • by mlong (160620)
    I've seen a few screeners in my time (legally) and they always had big flashing titles all over the screen saying it was a screener, etc. If anyone duplicates it and distributes it then its pretty obvious where it came from. And its pretty painful to try to sit through a long tape with all that stuff on the screen. So I don't see what the issue is...perhaps they are trying ot make an issue out of nothing?
  • You know what...I actually have no problems with this move.

    What has the /. crowd been telling the RIAA??? "change your business model"...which isn't much more than "learn to deal with it"...well, they ARE doing something...and it's not pissing off/suing their customers.

    The way I see it, they've decided that the release of the early screener is hurting DeeVeeDee sales.

    So, they've went to the source...they are taking a hit in potential ratings/awards.

    I would personally rather see this than to see the MPAA
  • This is smart (Score:3, Informative)

    by Teahouse (267087) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @02:19PM (#7073042)
    They need to do this. I live in LA, and every friend I know in the MP Industry has loads of free movies they get from screeners. They often have them before it's released in theatres. You can't bitch about people bootlegging your material when you send out a buttload of copies before it's even released just to get votes for an awards show.

    It's good discipline on the part of the MPAA. They need a little.
  • by Zhe Mappel (607548) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @03:16PM (#7073366)
    More than piracy ever could, what hurts Hollywood's bottom line is a business and creative model that takes its cues from high-stakes gambling.

    In the decades since the collapse of the studio system, moviemaking costs have been driven higher and higher for bad reasons - namely, sky-high star salaries and the desperate emphasis on blockbusters.

    What can also be measured is how the majors make fewer movies involving fewer actors, and take fewer risks. Monoculture, thy name is Hollywood.

    This would be OK if it worked, but it works less and less: other media like the Net and gaming are overtaking movies, and many megabucks stars (e.g., the unusually bland Costner) can't make a profitable movie to save their lives. The frantic, eggs-in-one-basket hunt for opening weekend success - think of all the screeching hype that has replaced honest movie reviewing - also grows from this narrow-minded approach.

    But it's not only the movie industry's fortunes that are affected by this model. One of the great means for transmission of ideas and values in society is film. Unlike films of even 30 or 40 years ago, Hollywood's navel-gazing product today rarely has much to say to anybody older than 13 (and when it does, the message is inevitably, "You should be 13 again!"). Independent film, which can sometimes do much more, isn't distributed because all the screens at the gigaplex are showing the corporate product. The festival circuit is literally teeming with hundreds of cool films you'll never see because they are crowded out of contention by, say, a single Gigli, which is one Gigli too many.

    Thus do a few unimaginative men make a less interesting world for all of us. Excuse me if I'm not too worried about them.

  • by digitalgimpus (468277) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @04:38PM (#7073843) Homepage
    I've worked with a media company, so I know their solution:

    They are starting to use a faint watermark, across the entire picture. The watermark is individual to the tape itself (a number, letter, symbol or combo).

    This way, if the tape is pirated... it's easy to trace back.

    Each tape is signed out to a particular person. That person previously signed NDA's. Now they have to sign NDA's... and there is something to ensure they don't forget about it.

    If the tape is leaked.... they know exactly who to go after. The tape's watermark will lead to the person responsible.

  • It is NOT piracy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gessel (310103) on Saturday September 27, 2003 @06:52PM (#7074422) Homepage
    It is not possible, legally or physically, to "steal" data. It is not possible to "pirate" data.

    It is guerilla antitrust.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    It may be illegal, but it isn't theft.

    The MPAA is taking a legally defensible and appropriate action to control the dissemination of data.

    "If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property."

    Quotes from Thomas Jefferson To Isaac McPherson; Monticello, August 13, 1813.

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