For Your Inconsideration...
October 2, 2003 1:36 PM   Subscribe

"I aim to close every kind of hole in the dike I can find on piracy," and with those words, MPAA demon Jack Valenti banned all DVD and VHS screeners of this years Oscar nominated films. File under "Throwing the baby out with the bathwater." Next up: Valenti plans to remove everyone's eyeballs with a rusty spoon.
posted by WolfDaddy (23 comments total)
The complete quote is as follows (emphasis mine)

"We know these screeners are a small part of piracy, but I aim to close every kind of hole in the dike I can find on piracy"

Huh? Sending out free copies of your own films is an act of piracy? I don't understand... (but then there's a lot that Valenti says that I don't understand).

Great news for the true Indy's however....
posted by anastasiav at 1:57 PM on October 2, 2003

I'm so confused. How are people going to vote for the Oscars now? I'm just waiting for Valenti to get some more laws passed, maybe he'll try sneaking them in with Patriot Act II after the next terrorist attack.
posted by insomnyuk at 2:11 PM on October 2, 2003

Once the voting members of the Academy scream loud enough, Valenti will back down. But he's a damned idiot.
posted by solistrato at 2:24 PM on October 2, 2003

Valenti has been so wrong on so many things that I can't believe the MPAA still keeps him on their payroll.
posted by bshort at 2:25 PM on October 2, 2003

anastasiav, not necessarily great news for the indies, as AICN ponders. They also report that Valenti "clarified" that even if a particular movie has already had a home video release prior to the Oscar ceremony itself, no screeners will be released for that movie.

I can't wait for it to become illegal for me to go to the movies.
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:25 PM on October 2, 2003

Oh, you'll always be able to go, WolfDaddy - you just won't be able to watch the movie. You'll pay your 24 bucks, eat some popcorn, watch some ads, and leave.
posted by anastasiav at 2:27 PM on October 2, 2003

To be fair to Valenti, my friend Shawn got copies of all the screeners from his dad, who knew a guy, who new a guy, every year.

Sometimes the films were still in the theater.

I buy movies as long as they stay in the relatively reasonable $20 range. Availability of pirated versions does not appeal to me.
posted by hipnerd at 2:34 PM on October 2, 2003

The funny side of this story is that Valenti's move probably won't influence voting much--I'm convinced most votes are cast for movies the voters haven't seen.
posted by adamrice at 2:34 PM on October 2, 2003

Dumb question... the article mentioned that the major studios have agreed not to distribute those screeners, but doesn't really say whether everyone else is required to abide by that decision. So what's to stop a smaller company not mentioned in the article from sending out DVDs anyway? Wouldn't that give a competitive advantage over the larger studios who agreed with Valenti?
posted by MegoSteve at 2:39 PM on October 2, 2003

dike?! What happened to dyke?
posted by i_cola at 2:47 PM on October 2, 2003

Then again, there is nothing wrong with forcing the reviewers to watch the movies in a theater. You know, as they were intended to be seen.
posted by magullo at 2:48 PM on October 2, 2003

Does anyone really think that the "members of the academy" actually watch all of the nominated films?
posted by Durwood at 2:50 PM on October 2, 2003

Only member of the MPAA have to abide by this decision-- this includes all major studios, as well as their pseudo indie branches like Miramax, Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics, etc. Lions Gate, for example, doesn't have to abide.

The MPAA is different than the AMPAS. AMPAS gives out the Oscars, MPAA is the Studio's trade org.

Here in LA, enveloped by industryish people all the time and knowing a few academy and writer's guild members, getting ahold of a screener is not hard.
posted by thebigpoop at 2:58 PM on October 2, 2003

Sending out free copies of your own films is an act of piracy?

That's not where the piracy occurs. I've seen copies of The Two Towers, Gangs of New York, Chicago, etc. that were ripped from screeners and sold several months before the movies were officially released on DVD. Every 10 minutes or so, a little notice appeared at the bottom of the screen saying something like "For your consideration" or "For screening purposes only". These copies contained a good quality digital rip of the screener and sometimes included DTS soundtracks as well.

They were being sold from Asian websites. Malaysia seemed to be the prime source of the ones I saw -- there were even subtitles in several Asian languages that were added to the screener. (I'm sorry I can't give links. These sites don't stay up for long.) Prices were very attractive -- about $12 per DVD -- and there were quality ratings that let you know if it was from a screener or from someone taking a camera into a theater.
posted by joaquim at 3:18 PM on October 2, 2003

not necessarily great news for the indies, as AICN ponders.

Huh, that read more like the blatherings of a geek deprived of his pwesents.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:06 PM on October 2, 2003

Screener rips are a small percentage of the movies one finds on p2p networks and IRC and elsewhere, and invariably only for new releases, which are re-ripped and re-released when better (ie no legal notice crawls) versions become available later.

Negligible impact, other than to publically notify more people that these prereleases are available, if you care to look.

Smooth moove, Valenti dumbass.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:32 PM on October 2, 2003

Huh, that read more like the blatherings of a geek deprived of his pwesents.

Okay, fine.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:43 PM on October 2, 2003

Someone needs to explain what a "measured response" is to Valenti.
posted by Cerebus at 6:59 AM on October 3, 2003

Hey, go easy on Valenti already! He's had a busy day at the orifice, y'know...

Ducks, runs
posted by alumshubby at 10:44 AM on October 3, 2003

I'll bet that the movie studios now hire guys to pirate their own movies and distribute them to voting members.
posted by troybob at 4:55 PM on October 3, 2003

Roger Ebert weighs in and argues that this may have been a move (either purposefully or serruptitiously) to uneven the playing field at the Academy Awards. If independent filmmakers were somehow forced to follow these same confines that Valenti is decreeing, it'd mean independent films just wouldn't get seen by enough people to be considered for the voting process, and major studios would have a higher chance of winning more awards. Seems rather petty on the part of Valenti, but he's done petty things before, and Ebert does offer a strong opinion.

Ebert also suggests the use of the Disposable Disc, something I wish would just go away because films should not be made disposable: they're not like razors or douches or emptied toothpaste tubes. Besides it wouldn't stop the piracy. Valenti's Decree wouldn't stop the piracy and has already been discussed, even if it did it's a small percentage of piracy. There's bigger gaps in Hollywood's fortress of verisimilitude.

This reads more like Valenti taking advantage of some people's fears than it is trying to do the right thing, but then there's a lot of that going around nowadays.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:54 PM on October 12, 2003

The tide turns?
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:38 PM on October 16, 2003

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