MPAA, Academy Reach Screener Compromise

After piracy issues led the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to put a ban on the distribution of screener copies for Academy voters, the stand-off between the organization and members of the artistic community may have come to an end. MPAA president Frank Pierson and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Jack Valenti announced that a compromise has been reached and characterize the plan as a one-year experiment.

The ban caused outrage among filmmakers who feared that smaller films that had limited or no theatrical distribution would not be seen by Academy members without the benefit of screener tapes. For animation, it would mean an unfair advantage for Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo, which received far more exposure than other contenders such as The Bellville Triplets and Millennium Actress.

The compromise will allow screeners to be distributed to members who sign a binding agreement with their organization which obligates them to make only personal use of them and to protect them from circulating or being copied. Signers who fail to live up to the terms of the agreement face expulsion from the Academy as well as possible legal action from the copyright holders if a pirated screener is traced back to them.