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Pirated movies could get harder to find after next year’s Oscars

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced a ban on DVD and Blu-ray screeners in 2021 after the next Oscars event – a move that could make pirating movies a bit more difficult.

DVD screeners are promotional copies of movies and TV shows that are mailed to critics and industry professionals ahead of a movie’s release or a major event, such as an award show. Every year, thousands of DVD screeners are distributed among Academy members before voting commences, and many of those screeners quickly fall into the hands of pirates (via TorrentFreak).

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These movies – often labelled DVDScr – can end up gathering millions of views online. Needless to say, screeners are a popular source for torrents. Which is why it is surprising that pirates are not the official reason DVD screeners are getting banned.

While there is certainly an argument to be made that prohibiting DVD screeners would cut down on the number of torrented movies available online, the main reason behind this change is to encourage sustainability.

The Academy outlined the new rules for the 93rd annual Oscars ceremony last week:

“As part of the Academy’s sustainability effort, the 93rd Awards season will be the final year DVD screeners will be allowed to be distributed; these mailings will be discontinued starting in 2021 for the 94th Academy Awards,” wrote the Academy.

“Access to the Academy Screening Room will continue to be made available for all eligible releases. The distribution of physical music CDs, screenplays and hardcopy mailings, including but not limited to paper invites and screening schedules, will also be discontinued next year. Digital links to materials will be permitted”.

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The Oscars isn’t the first event to ban physical screeners the Emmys made the leap from physical to digital screeners earlier this year.

The Academy will continue to allow physical copies to be distributed ahead of the 2021 event, meaning we’re unlikely to see a decrease in pirated DVD screener files until the new rule kicks in for 2022.

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