On March 27th one of the biggest events of the year when you’re a movie lover will take place – Academy Awards night. As you keep reading articles about the event you realize that you haven’t seen all the nominated movies…

As a cinema fan, you know how much money the movie industry loses to piracy. You were just reading this article earlier, so you know that in the United States alone, online piracy causes huge losses – $29.2 billion every year and 230,000 jobs.

Unfortunately, in your country there is no legal offer for some of these movies and movie theaters are far away, so feel you have no choice.

If you really want to see the Oscar nominated and awarded movies, you’ll might have to pirate them…It is easier and quicker to find an illegal copy than any legal offer. A simple Google search was enough to find your movie. Slightly guilty, a few minutes later, you sit down in front of an excellent quality copy – a far cry from the “camcording” of the early years of piracy – and start watching a pirated movie for the very first time in your life.

One Oscar Won, 10 Times as Much Pirated

Piracy at the Academy Awards is not a new phenomenon. But the pandemic has taken it to a whole new level, and bad habits die hard.

 The Torrentfreak website has been looking into illegal downloads during the Oscar season since 2015.

They monitor the activity of nominated films on pirate media every year.

The peak in downloads, for a movie participating in the Awards occurs at two specific times

  • At the time of the nominations 
  • At the time of the awards ceremony

The Spiderman case

The British BAFTA ceremony takes place a fortnight before the Oscars, and is known for its strong influence on the Oscar jury. This year, the film Spiderman No Way Home was not selected to participate in the BAFTAs. The reason? It did not meet the eligibility criteria.

One of these criteria was indeed to make the film available on the streaming platform dedicated to the ceremony. Spiderman was not uploaded – for fear that the blockbuster would be pirated. This proves that this phenomenon – the explosion of piracy before and during the Awards –  is becoming well known. Even though, it didn’t prevent illegal copies of the film from being available online.

Camcording and DVD screeners

There are two methods of making a film that has not yet been released.

  • The somewhat archaic method of camcording:  a person invited to a preview will film the screen with a personal camera. The quality is generally poor, and many pirates wait until the film is released in better quality to download it.
  • Screeners are copies given to the jury members of a movie event so that they can watch the films at home before they vote. These are good quality copies and therefore much more desirable.

This graph created by Torrentfreak allows us to observe this phenomenon for two films nominated in 2021 (“Nomadland” and “Judas and the Black Messiah” in red and blue on the graph) and a control film not nominated (“The Honest Thief” in yellow).

 

The Power of the Dog, victim of its own success

For instance, the movie “The Power of the Dog” with Benedict Cumberbacht and Kirsten Dunst received 12 nominations this year. The film was released in theaters on December 1st, but as early as last September, the film had been the victim of a huge leak on the networks – probably following the premiere that took place during the Toronto Film Festival.

The phenomenon is well known and accepted, and the famous tech blogger Andy Baoi regularly updates his grid with statistics on the piracy of nominated and pirated films. The takeaway from this impressive list of nearly 700 films from the last 20 Academy Awards? For 2022 the answer to “will there be a high quality leak before the night of the Oscars” is yes – for the 31 films that he studied for the 2022 Awards.

Two groups are known for their ability to get their hands on such copies and distribute them: Hive-CM8 (which has leaked several films in competition for the Oscars) and TOPKEK.

For the moment, the studios have no viable solutions  to prevent these movies from being illegally released on the networks. All they can do is to keep a 24-hour watch and remove the first copies as soon as they appear in order to control the situation. The sooner an illegal copy is detected, the less likely it is to spread.

If you need help, don’t hesitate to hire a team of experts. We have more than 10 years of experience and have developed efficient tools to protect movies and TV shows.

Next week, stay tuned for our two-part study of identity theft on social networks, a danger that is more common than we think.