Originally created 01/15/04

Another Oscar screener movie surfaces on Internet



LOS ANGELES -- A second movie sent to Oscar voters has turned up on the Internet.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the discovery of an unauthorized Internet copy of the Tom Cruise film "The Last Samurai" on Tuesday, a day after announcing a probe into an unauthorized copy of "Something's Gotta Give," starring Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson.

Both Internet postings were setbacks for the anti-piracy campaign by the film industry, which has estimated that unauthorizied movie copying costs it $3.5 billion a year.

The Motion Picture Association of America, which represents studios, last year banned the distribution of so-called "screener" DVDs and videotapes over concerns about bootlegging, but it partly lifted the ban after complaints from filmmakers, producers and independent production companies.

The studios changed the policy in October to allow the shipment of encoded videocassettes to Academy Award voters only. Two months later, a federal judge granted a temporary injunction blocking the screener ban after independent production companies sued, arguing the policy put them at a disadvantage for awards.

The academy said that Warner Bros. had not identified a source of the Internet copy of "The Last Samurai." The movie, an East-West culture clash set in 19th century Japan, was in the top ten at the box office last week and has earned more than $97 million since it hit theaters last month.

Actor Carmine Caridi was identified by the Los Angeles Times as the intended recipient of the "Something's Gotta Give" copy that surfaced on the Internet last week. He declined comment to the newspaper.

Malcolm Cassell, Caridi's agent, said the 69-year-old "NYPD Blue" actor had hired an attorney and was "mightily embarrassed," though "vague and not forthcoming" when asked how a copy of the movie sent to him may have surfaced online.

The 5,803 Academy members eligible to vote this year were required to sign forms promising to protect their screener tapes. About 80 percent of them returned the forms, which include a stipulation that a violation is grounds for expulsion from the academy.

Academy members include actors, producers, directors and writers as well as public relations specialists, sound technicians and other industry executives, artists and craftspeople.

The Oscar nominations will be announced Jan. 27 and awards presented Feb. 29.