If Hollywood is serious about fighting piracy, it may need to give up privilege, according to one studio executive. Kaye Cooper Mead, the EVP of worldwide distribution services at Summit Entertainment – the studio behind the massive Twilight franchise – is calling on studios to stop using screener DVDs in the run-up to award season to prevent high quality bootlegs:
It’s something we have to get away from. Those screeners are a source of leaks, and when they leak, it’s a very serious leak because it’s a much better copy than the pirated ones.
History backs up her argument; as the Hollywood Reporter points out, Oscar voter Carmine Caridi was prosecuted by the FBI for allowing dozens of his screener DVDs to be ripped and uploaded to the internet in 2004, and that came after increased security measures reversed a shortlived 2003 ban on screeners for piracy concerns.
Mead has more reason than some to be calling for a ban on screener DVDs. Summit released The Hurt Locker in the US, a movie many believe suffered at the box office because of those who’d illegally downloaded the movie after its wins at this year’s Academy Awards (The movie’s producers are suing thousands of people who illegally downloaded a copy). In addition to the end of screener DVDs, she’s also asking for studios to share information about fighting pirates, to make it easier for everyone:
Don’t close ranks when the problems happen… When [your] investigation is over, it’s time to speak up and say where it happened.
Whether she’ll have the backing for either of her concerns remains to be seen, of course. After all, Summit is still sending out screeners for next year’s Oscars even now.
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