Oscar Piracy: Is Hollywood’s Security System Actually Working?


Waxy.org’s Andy Baio has once again published an extensive collection of data about this year’s Oscar nominations and their availability on P2P networks. He’s been doing this for the last seven years, during which the overall picture has remained pretty much the same; almost all Oscar nominated movies are available on file-sharing networks before the annual awards ceremony. In fact of the 26 movies that were nominated this year, 23 are already available in DVD quality on P2P networks.


Graph courtesy of Andy Baio/Waxy.org.

However, there seems to be hope for Hollywood, or at least for its anti-piracy believers: Leaking those films now takes longer than ever before. The median time between a film’s U.S. premiere and its leak online now stands at 11 days, up from five days in 2008 and a single day in 2005. The reason for this seems to be that there are fewer and fewer so-called “cam” releases, movies recorded by people with their camcorders in theaters. Maybe all those bag checks, intimidating security guards and night vision goggles actually do have an effect.

The number of cam releases has fallen sharply this year, according to Waxy’s data. Scene release sites like VCDQuality lists just eight of them, which means that only 30 percent of all movies nominated were filmed in theaters. Last year, the number was still around 55 percent, and 2007 it was closer to 70 percent.

Hollywood has long fought cam piracy, and some of the measures being used against it made it into the headlines last year. Authorities arrested a man trying to videotape The Dark Knight in Kansas last July,  and theater owners started to use night vision goggles in UK theaters to prevent the leak of Quantum of Solace.

So are the goggles working? While Waxy’s data seems to show that they are, using the Oscars as an indicator for overall piracy trends is fraught with problems. The awards do feature some of the more popular mainstream movies, but big blockbusters like Mall Cop won’t be nominated anytime soon. Smaller movies, on the other hand, may garner a few nominations, but they lack big audience numbers, both in theaters and on P2P networks.

This seems to be especially true for the 2009 nominations. The list only features one or two real blockbusters; movies like Rachel Getting Married, meanwhile, might fill an indie theater or two, but the film still hasn’t shown up on P2P networks at all. Maybe cammers and the associated release groups just don’t like indie fare.

Either way, any success on the anti-piracy front is temporary at best. The fact is that most movies are available in DVD quality online long before the original DVDs show up on retail shelves, which results in significant declines in DVD sales numbers.


Business Security Systems

Security guards are important ‘roles’ for they provide security to people.But also security to items and products are also of great importance.Piracy must be guarded too.

Vern M. | AZ Home Security

Yes, I agree with the first comment: I would never watch a cam flick, even if it was the only way to see if for free. When I watch a movie, I like an immersive experience. The cam versions of most movies are so bad (even the ones made by someone in the projection loft) that I can’t bring myself to even download them.


They should think about another possibility, to earn money. Maybe they could make movies with more advertising.

Tim Street

I think the pirates have the system working pretty well.

Do you think next year there will be an award for “Best Pirate” or “Best Pirated Movie” ;-P


I’m going to say that the movie industries work to thwart piracy, as it pertains to ‘cam’ releases — has more to do with the fact that ‘cam’ releases are horrible in every way imaginable, and people in general won’t watch something that low-fi… as opposed to them making any real headway into stamping out piracy- I won’t watch anything like that… yet, I’ll watch a 2 minute grainy youtube clip — My guess is when cam releases were a new and shiny thing, people got excited about just being able to see a theatrical release before it made it to DVD– standards have changed. I figure those that did cam releases, now find it, not worth the time —

As for piracy, I’m stuck firmly in the middle on the subject… I’m against piracy and I’m against rights management — I’m not innocent in resisting the temptations of seeing a movie I haven’t been able to get to the movie theatre to see — I have gotten screeners directly from an Academy member(so maybe they should have a chat with their members) —

All in all, my basic feelings are… I don’t feel sorry for the movie industry at all– just like the music industry– I saw this coming in the mid-90’s and invested a lot of time and energy in trying to get people to invest in companies like liquidaudio and N2k(anti-piracy, no gone out of business) — no one listened, hmmm… might have been because I was only 22 at the time:)

My thoughts are that the entertainment industries need to figure out new money making models — they’re really digging up the wrong tree when it comes to stopping piracy.

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