Pirated ‘DVD Screeners’ Will be History After Next Year’s Oscars

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The Academy announced this week that DVD and Blu-Ray screeners will be banned after the next Oscars ceremony. This marks the end of a long-standing tradition. Not just in the movie business, but also on pirate sites where the DVDscr tag is closely watched. Although Oscar DVD Screeners may soon be history, this doesn't mean that screener leaks will be thing of the past.

The Oscars is the most watched awards show of the year. It’s widely covered in the press and highly anticipated by movie fans.

In the weeks leading up to the awards ceremony, movie pirates also have something to be excited about: screener leaks.

Many Oscar screeners, which are sent to Academy members as part of the voting process, end up in the hands of pirates. When that happens, the leaked screeners are typically shared by millions of people.

The leaks are often tagged “DVDscr,” referring to the DVD screener source format which is still in use. While streaming screeners have become more and more common, tens of thousands of physical screener copies are still sent out via mail.

This year, plenty of discs will be shipped too but, after the upcoming Oscars ceremony, that will be a thing of the past. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this week that physical screeners will no longer be allowed in 2021.

“[T]he 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,” the Academy writes.

The Oscars follow the same path as the Emmys, which already made the switch this year. According to the Academy, the transition is part of its sustainability efforts. This also includes a ban on physical music CDs, hard copies of screenplays, paper invites, and other things that possibly hurt the environment.

Banning physical screeners will indeed be much more sustainable. Manufacturing tens of thousands of discs and shipping these all over the country takes up more resources than sharing a link to an online screener. As an added benefit, it also saves the studios a lot of money.

Piracy is not mentioned by the Academy but the transition does mean that the infamous ‘DVDscr’ tag will eventually be obsolete for Oscar screeners. That marks the end of an era.

Whether piracy was considered as a factor at all remains a guess. Some insiders believe that digital screeners are easier to protect and therefore more secure, but that is up for debate.

There may be fewer leak opportunities in the distribution process, but it’s common knowledge that streaming platforms can be easily compromised. In fact, we have already seen several screeners being leaked from online sources. This was corroborated by pirate release group EVO last year.

“We had access to digital screeners and they are indeed easy to leak. The DRM on it is a joke. We had an account last year with three screeners on it and they were pretty much MP4 ready to encode,” the EVO team informed us at the time.

Whether streaming or physical screeners are more secure ultimately depends on the type of protection measures that are implemented for each. The safest conclusion, for now, is that piracy will likely remain a problem no matter what the distribution platform is.

Two years from now, we’ll likely know more. During the upcoming season, however, there will likely several ‘DVDscr’ leaks again.


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