Wednesday, January 14, 2004

the MPAA alleges that copies of two of its movie "screeners" have appeared online. researching this story will turn up lots of hits, even though it appears that only maybe 6-8 stories at most have been written (most other periodicals are just reprinting an AP story or occasionally a reuters story)

the fact that there are so few real articles mean that information is very sparse. but already the great game of "telephone" has begun and the media echo chamber has begun to feed back, distorting what little info is out there to the point of obvious falsehood.

like check this lead from the story on

LOS ANGELES ( - Despite a highly publicized anti-piracy campaign over the past year, a second movie screener has been found for sale on the Internet.

On Tuesday, Jan. 13, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that an unauthorized copy of Warner Bros.' "The Last Samurai" was found for sale online, according to the AP.

wait... did that say for sale? seriously? hell, it even says "for sale" twice in the first two grafs! how incredibly inept do the so-called reporters have to be, if they can't even comprehend the AP wire story they're rewriting? do they really think people go online and pay to download so-called pirated movies? is that sheer ineptitude or perhaps intentional misinformation?

funny; i came across the zap2it story because i was looking for souces that actually did some research or put some thought into the story, rather than just running the story off the wire. but if that kind of blatant factual error is what happens when zap2it writes their own stories, maybe they should just fire their "reporters" and run the wire straight.

anyway, ignoring that farce, let's look at the facts:

  • pretty much everything cited in all stories is "according to the academy"... no real evidence has been made public. it would be interesting to find the original MPAA press releases, to see how much of the wire stories were simply rewritten or copied/pasted directly from the press releases (i suspect quite a bit)
  • re: the first movie allegedly found online (something's gotta give), even though " Academy Executive Director Bruce Davis declined to say which Oscar voter was being investigated", the la times happily reports that "[a] person familiar with the academy's probe said the offending videocassette had been sent to Carmine Caridi, a veteran film and television actor who appeared in "The Godfather: Part II" and played Det. Vince Gotelli on the television series "NYPD Blue."" apparently caridi has no right to privacy, but whatever MPAA goon leaked caridi's name does. other stories cite the la times as the source of the name, rather than "an anonymous coward who spoke to the la times".
  • caridi needs a better agent. his agent told the press that caridi was "vague and not forthcoming" about how the movie got online. caridi's rep is being smerared, & that's the best his agent can come up with?
  • allegedly MPAA screeners have coded information that lets them track where copies come from. this is how they allegedly know these online movies are from screeners, as well as how they allegedly know the copy of something's gotta give that allegedly showed up online allegedly was destined for caridi.
  • i'm getting really sick of typing "allegedly", but someone's gotta do it.
  • both movies (the other one is the last samurai) are big-time hollywood movies (not "independents", who really need screeners to reach an oscar audience) and although the stories don't say so, there are probably dozens of other (non-screener) pirate copies of these movies online.

as you can probably tell, i'm a bit skeptical of this story so far. i'll keep tracking it and hopefully have more insight soon....

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