AfterDawn: Glossary

DVD Screener

A DVD Screener is a promotional copy of a motion picture sent by a movie studios (on a DVD-Video disc) before the official DVD release date to movie critics, censors etc. The term DVDSCR is used by movie pirates to describe the source material of a bootleg SVCD, DivX, XviD or DVDR copy of a DVD Screener. These copies are usually of high, near-retail quality, but often contain some little extras on the video stream.

These extras includes timers, scrollers, black & white scenes, logos and serial numbers. The scrollers contain information about a few things, such as why some scenes of the movie appear in black & white, or have anti-piracy information that tell you how to contact anti-piracy groups if you have rented or purchased a DVD Screener copy of a movie. Serials are used to help track where the DVD Screeners were sent to (if they are copied and end up on the street or Internet) but these are usually blocked out completely by pirates.

Movie studios often also leave logos or watermarks on Screeners. The issue of DVD Screener piracy has caused controversy in Hollywood; even at one stage resulting in a DVD Screener ban. Plans were also introduced for the production of encrypted DVD Screeners (using the AES 128-bit encryption standard) that would special equipment (more than just a mere DVD Player) to be played back.

Around the time of the Academy Awards ceremony used to be the most active time for DVD Screener piracy but efforts by the MPAA and FBI have seriously reduced it.

News History regarding DVD Screeners.

DVD Screener Ban

MPAA bans Oscar screeners
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) banned Oscar Screeners in fear of increasing piracy.

MPAA's decision to ban Oscar screeners stands
Despite meeting with various Indie movie authors, Jack Valenti, former MPAA chief executive, said he would continue conversations but the ban would still stand.

Writers Guild opposes screener ban
The Writers Guild of America publicly opposed the ban.

LA Critics call off their awards in protest
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association called off its annual awards in protest to the Screener ban.

MPAA and Academy make a deal over Oscar screeners
The MPAA and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences came to an agreement where each Academy member would receive a VHS Screener instead. These would be watermarked (so they could be tracked back to the "leak") and members were also made sign a contract when they received the discs.

MPAA: No screeners for other than Academy members
The MPAA once again announced that the Screener ban decision stood, except for the agreement with the Academy.

MPAA sued over DVD screener ban
A group of small film companies sued the MPAA over the Screener ban.

MPAA responds to screener lawsuit
The MPAA responded to the lawsuit. Its lawyers said that the MPAA has no control "no control over the studios". The Judge was skeptical and replied saying "Well, if that's the case, your client has no objection to withdrawing this ban."

Indie group wins screener ban battle
Federal Judge Michael Mukasey ruled that the MPAA can not stop their members from sending out screener copies of movies. MPAA immediately stated that it will appeal the injunction.

Oscar leak investigations

FBI investigates Oscar screener leak
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirmed it was looking into Screener leaks of several movies including Something's Gotta Give, Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World, Thirteen and The Last Samurai. Studio sources said they had been traced to Academy member Carmine Caridi.

Man pleads guilty in Oscar screener case
Illinois based Russell Sprague, 51, pleaded guilty to copyright infringement in court after distributing over 200 copies of movies over the Internet. Caridi said he was shocked and thought that Sprague was just a big movie fan. Charges were dropped against Caridi but he was still expelled from the Academy.

Warner and Columbia sued actor over leaked screeners
Warner and Columbia sued Carmine Caridi over the screener leak.

Actor fined over Oscar screener piracy
Caridi was fined a sum of $300,000 by a Los Angeles court for distributing The Last Samurai and Mystic River.

Oscar screener pirate found dead in jail cell
Just weeks before he was to be sentenced, Russell Sprague was found dead in a jail cell. It was suspected he died of a heart attack. He was facing up to three years in prison for his crimes.


Related glossary terms


Select a term to see the explanation