Studios use iTunes to fight screener piracy

Several Hollywood studios are using iTunes as a way to combat piracy stemming from stolen screener copies of award-worthy films, according to the Los Angeles Times. Fox Searchlight was the first studio to have nearly 100,000 Screen Actors Guild voters view new films such as Black Swan through a free download from the iTunes Store, according to the report, and other studios such as Paramount and Focus Features did the same. In each case, the downloads were set to expire 24 hours after being viewed—the same limitation Apple uses for its movie rentals in the U.S.—and were not available to the public. In the past, studios have sent out thousands of screener DVDs to those who vote on awards such as the Golden Globes and Oscars, and had seen many of them stolen or otherwise copied, ripped, and uploaded to file sharing sites. As the report notes, however, digital screeners may take time to replace physical copies as some studios are hesitant to annoy voters by making them watch films on a computer or mobile device. “I don’t know how thrilled filmmakers would be to have their films seen on a laptop instead of a flat-screen TV,” said David Kaplan, a senior vice president of anti-piracy at Warner Bros., whose movie Inception is up for an Oscar for best picture.

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