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Indie Filmmakers Sue MPAA on Screener Ban

25 Nov, 2003 By: Erik Gruenwedel

A group of 14 independent movie production companies has filed a $25 million lawsuit against the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) seeking to stop the partial ban on video screeners to guild members and other groups that determine awards such as the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.

The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, claims the ban adversely affects the dissemination of smaller films for consideration, which ultimately will “chill the financing of independent films.”

In September, the MPAA, citing piracy concerns of material on DVD, ordered its studio members not to send out VHS and DVD screeners of select films. The following month, the MPAA agreed to allow studios to send screeners in VHS format with several conditions, including identification, address and telephone number(s) of each recipient.

It has been said that the success of select art-house films at recent Academy Awards was due in part to the distribution of cost-effective DVD screeners months in advance.

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