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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 October, 2003, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
Indie moguls blast Oscars DVD ban
Halle Berry
Halle Berry won an Oscar for the independent Monster's Ball
Leading independent film directors have condemned the major Hollywood studios for banning DVD giveaways to Academy Award voters.

Directors Robert Altman and John Hughes signed a petition denouncing the ban by the Motion Picture Association of America, aimed at cutting piracy.

Independents tied to major studios fear being ignored by Oscar judges.

MPAA boss Jack Valenti said he would be cast as "a villain" but beating digital piracy was his biggest priority.

The fear is that voters only have a limited time to see movies at the cinema, so they could miss smaller films altogether.

The New York arm of the Independent Film Project (IFP) condemned the move in a statement signed by 33 filmmakers, producers and executives, including Altman and Hughes.

"This last-minute policy change will seriously diminish the diversity and quality of independent films immediately and the mainstream film industry in the long run," the IFP said in a statement.

'Extra screenings'

Many of the major players in Hollywood are deeply concerned that if piracy of digital movies on the internet becomes as widespread as it has in the music industry, then box office revenues will plunge.

As a result, the MPAA - which represents the major studios - has begun many programs highlighting the possibility of lost jobs due to piracy.

Mr Valenti said that in place of the tapes and DVDs, his studio members "will set up double the amount of screenings" in US theatres to get their films seen by Academy Award voters.

"There are going to be complaints, and I'm going to be the villain. I understand that," he said.

"If I can find some place that commits one-half of one percent of piracy, I'm going to plug that hole," Valenti said.

Hollywood battles broadband bandits
02 Oct 03  |  Technology


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