Studios shift from DVD to iTunes to distribute Oscar nominees

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Movie studios are seeking to distribute their award nominated films to Academy and Screen Actors Guild voters using Apple's iTunes rather than conventional DVDs, in hopes of limiting piracy of the pre-release films.



Previously, the studios have pressed advanced copies of their films to the tens of thousands of members who vote on them, but those DVDs are easy to pass off to other people, and ripping the media is trivial to do. That results in early copies of the studio's best films seeing widespread unauthorized distribution before they even go on sale to the public.



To combat the problem, according to a report by LA Times, Fox Searchlight set up a special purpose rental code with Apple's iTunes to deliver "Black Swan" and other nominees to the nearly 100,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild this month.



The privately distributed code allows voters to view the movie within a 24 hour period, just like conventional iTunes rentals. Other studios have followed suit, including Paramount Pictures and Focus Features.



Awards garner views, bootlegging kills sales



While it isn't impossible to break the DRM on iTunes Movies, the problem isn't seen as being one created by direct ripping of the films by voting members of the award groups. Instead, the report cited studio executives and law enforcement as saying the actual uploading of DVDs to torrent sites "is typically done by someone several steps removed from the recipient, often without that person's knowledge."



While the studios print warnings on the custom movies that instruct viewers to destroy the DVDs and not distribute them, it's very easy for friends or family members to pass them around. iTunes erects a separate barrier that makes casual distribution that much more difficult, so it is seen as a way to prevent movies from getting into the hands of those who would want to widely distribute them.



Illegal distribution of movies is seen as a problem that costs studios billions. Since 2006, DVD sales have slid from $20.6 billion to just $14 billion last year. Most of that loss is blamed on video recordings of movies, but early films distributed to award voters is also recognized to be a major problem.



Attempts to stop award bootlegging



Beginning in 2004, some studios experimented with distributing custom "SV-300" DVD players incorporating stronger DRM, but that was abandoned as unwieldy and complicated because voters didn't want to haul around a single purpose DVD player, particularly during the voting months that typically fall into the winter holiday season.



In 2008, the report noted that widespread distribution of "Slumdog Millionaire," "Australia," and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" were tracked back to two men using digital watermarks; the pair were convicted of felony copyright infringement.



Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures already have sales agents (who are in charge of selecting movies for airlines and cruise ship licensing) screen advanced copies of their films from a secured website intended to make redistribution more difficult.



Apple's iTunes offers benefits that DRM-protected, web-based streams don't. David Kaplan, a senior vice president of anti-piracy at Warner Bros, told reporters, "I don't know how thrilled filmmakers would be to have their films seen on a laptop instead of a flat-screen TV."



Via iTunes, the studio could offer playback of its Oscar nominated movie "Inception" in a format that isn't tied to a web browser, allowing Academy voters to watch the film on their HDTV rather than being tied to a computer.

«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    How do you strip tr movies of their drm? I'm not posting it to anything or sharing it. I just want to keep vids longer than the rental period.
  • Reply 2 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Movie studios are seeking to distribute their award nominated films to Academy and Screen Actors Guild voters using Apple's iTunes rather than conventional DVDs, in hopes of limiting piracy of the pre-release films. ...



    This is a neat idea, but I've never understood why it was so hard to figure out who was leaking the stuff in the first place.



    Every torrent I've ever seen of an Oscar candidate at this time of year has "Property of Weinstein Company" right across the screen.



    Just arrest those guys.
  • Reply 3 of 42
    macslutmacslut Posts: 514member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by matthewmspace View Post


    How do you strip tr movies of their drm? I'm not posting it to anything or sharing it. I just want to keep vids longer than the rental period.



    Oh, I see. You don't want to share, you just want to steal (and don't know how to use Google).
  • Reply 4 of 42
    successsuccess Posts: 1,039member
    Do you know how ridonkuously easy it is to remove DRM from anything iTunes? You drag and drop a file into "abc program" and that's pretty much it.



    iTunes files are very convenient too because the files don't have to be ripped and decrypted to the computer from optical drive. The file is already ripped and half ready.



    ipa, m4a, and m4v files are everywhere.
  • Reply 5 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macslut View Post


    Oh, I see. You don't want to share, you just want to steal (and don't know how to use Google).



    The race has been already won.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    This is a neat idea, but I've never understood why it was so hard to figure out who was leaking the stuff in the first place.

    Every torrent I've ever seen of an Oscar candidate at this time of year has "Property of Weinstein Company" right across the screen.

    Just arrest those guys.



    Yes, arrest the Weinsteins.
  • Reply 6 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by success View Post


    Do you know how ridonkuously easy it is to remove DRM from anything iTunes? You drag and drop a file into "abc program" and that's pretty much it.



    iTunes files are very convenient too because the files don't have to be ripped and decrypted to the computer from optical drive. The file is already ripped and half ready.



    ipa, m4a, and m4v files are everywhere.



    I thought those programs removed the Drm but not the unique watermarks that Apple inserts into the content.
  • Reply 7 of 42
    It does sound much more convenient as a means of distribution, but it's seems very, sillily, ineffective as an anti-piracy maneuver. I've seen postings on websites recently for screeners that mention being distributed through iTunes -- I wondered if guild members really were receiving screener copies through iTunes now, and obviously this story now confirms that.



    Maybe only a couple of titles out of many that might be being distributed this was have made their way to file-sharing sites and it actually could be viewed as a small success, but they can be and already are being "unlocked" and shared.
  • Reply 8 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macslut View Post


    Oh, I see. You don't want to share, you just want to steal (and don't know how to use Google).



    I tried that and couldn't find a good free program. You're also correct in saying that I'm not sharing files.
  • Reply 9 of 42
    Ya' know, I posted this to another AI thread about 3 hours before DED posted this, his, article.



    http://forums.appleinsider.com/showt...68#post1796068



    What is interesting is that the article I referenced in the original post was skipped in the DED article and he copied a link to the LA Times article from the original article.



    Is this just coincidence, sloppiness or journalistic license?
  • Reply 10 of 42
    archosarchos Posts: 152member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Undecided View Post


    It does sound much more convenient as a means of distribution, but it's seems very, sillily, ineffective as an anti-piracy maneuver. I've seen postings on websites recently for screeners that mention being distributed through iTunes -- I wondered if guild members really were receiving screener copies through iTunes now, and obviously this story now confirms that.



    Maybe only a couple of titles out of many that might be being distributed this was have made their way to file-sharing sites and it actually could be viewed as a small success, but they can be and already are being "unlocked" and shared.



    The point is that Academy voters aren't usually the people ripping off movies; their DVDs just get handed around because "why not?" and then somebody else puts them up in mass distribution. Presumably, Academy nominees are aware they won't have a job if they destroy the movie business in the same way the music business was obliterated.



    Ask any music exec if you're still thinking that the album has any life left in it. The point of Bluray was to stop the same from happening to DVD, but its only a matter of time. At least with iTunes, its slightly harder for *pre-release* content to be copied without direct efforts by authorized viewers.
  • Reply 11 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by matthewmspace View Post


    I tried that and couldn't find a good free program. You're also correct in saying that I'm not sharing files.



    We don't talk about anything that can be used for piracy here. He was making a joke.
  • Reply 12 of 42
    payecopayeco Posts: 249member
    Too late, I've already seen these available for download days ago. Downloaded one myself to take a look and they look great, they are HD quality. It's actually worse for the movie studios because the DVD screeners were obviously only DVD quality and had those messages that scrolled across the screen and/or switches to black and white for a short period of time. With these iTunes copies they are full 720p HD copies of the movies.
  • Reply 13 of 42
    Time to return to old school bootlegs with a shaky camera pointed at a screen sold by a shady vendor on a New York sidewalk.
  • Reply 14 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Archos View Post


    The point is that Academy voters aren't usually the people ripping off movies; their DVDs just get handed around because "why not?" and then somebody else puts them up in mass distribution. Presumably, Academy nominees are aware they won't have a job if they destroy the movie business in the same way the music business was obliterated.



    Ask any music exec if you're still thinking that the album has any life left in it. The point of Bluray was to stop the same from happening to DVD, but its only a matter of time. At least with iTunes, its slightly harder for *pre-release* content to be copied without direct efforts by authorized viewers.



    Not giving guild members the opportunity to lend out their screener copies in this way sounds like a worthwhile effort, but I'm just saying that it doesn't seem to have succeeded in that way.



    For the rest of what you said -- I'm being honest when I say that I don't know how much of that is you being tongue-in-cheek facetious or if you're speaking in all seriousness.



    The music industry hasn't - by any means in the slightest - been obliterated (?), and the shift that is happening from physical media to digital distribution is natural and in large part a very positive response to piracy.
  • Reply 15 of 42
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,903member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    This is a neat idea, but I've never understood why it was so hard to figure out who was leaking the stuff in the first place.



    Every torrent I've ever seen of an Oscar candidate at this time of year has "Property of Weinstein Company" right across the screen.



    Just arrest those guys.



    mmmm ... but you are on the torrent ...??



    Meanwhile.... what's a DVD anyway?
  • Reply 16 of 42
    poochpooch Posts: 768member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post


    Is this just coincidence, sloppiness or journalistic license?



    while i wholly believe in a collective consciousness, i also believe that appleinsider is not the most original content provider and have seen instances in the past where they have very obviously ripped content from another source and passed it off as their own. that is not a comment on ded, but on appleinsider in general.
  • Reply 17 of 42
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,595member
    Quote:

    Illegal distribution of movies is seen as a problem that costs studios billions. Since 2006, DVD sales have slid from $20.6 billion to just $14 billion last year. Most of that loss is blamed on video recordings of movies, but early films distributed to award voters is also recognized to be a major problem.



    Yeah, that has nothing to do with digital distribution methods like iTunes or Netflix streaming movies.



    No, nothing at all.



    Also, we had a little ... what was it? ... oh yeah! A RECESSION! As much as these guys love to blame piracy for every single dollar they "lose," it's just not a valid argument.
  • Reply 18 of 42
    aiolosaiolos Posts: 228member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by payeco View Post


    Too late, I've already seen these available for download days ago. Downloaded one myself to take a look and they look great, they are HD quality. It's actually worse for the movie studios because the DVD screeners were obviously only DVD quality and had those messages that scrolled across the screen and/or switches to black and white for a short period of time. With these iTunes copies they are full 720p HD copies of the movies.



    I've seen them available for download as well. I agree that it's funny because now the rips are HD (though with a bitrate much lower than a regular Bluray rip, but that's expected as iTunes != Bluray) and way better than the DVD Screeners of the past. And as others have said, now the movie has already been ripped into a computer file, so no optical media ripping is necessary. This might make it harder to distribute the movies (since no passing to 2nd and 3rd persons), but all you need is one person with a DRM - remover and presto, internet!



    And a simple Google search will affirm that this has already happened: There are rips for The King's Speech, The Fighter and Black Swan out in HD from web sources (and True Grit from a regular DVD Screener rip), and those were 4 of the biggest releases of the past few months.
  • Reply 19 of 42
    iliveriliver Posts: 299member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    Meanwhile.... what's a DVD anyway?



    It's what you'll use to upgrade your Mac to Lion from Snow Leopard. Next.
  • Reply 20 of 42
    While you all argue, Apple solidifies it's strategic position in the distribution of digital art. Not that as a shareholder I am opposed - just commenting
Sign In or Register to comment.