Why Is Nobody Pirating This Year’s Oscar Movies?

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Photo: Courtesy of Disney

As is typically the case before the nominations are announced, few of this year's presumed Oscar contenders have caught fire at the box office. But one demographic that can usually be counted on to view things early on is the pirates who upload and download illicit copies from file-sharing sites. Esteemed L.A. Times Oscarologist Tom O'Neil reports today that DVD screeners for all of the 2009 awards hopefuls (save for Avatar) are currently in the hands of the Academy's general membership — so why have so few leaked online?

By this time last year, all but six of the screeners for movies that later earned Oscar nods were being freely traded on BitTorrent sites, according to a January study by Waxy.org. This year, though, so many of the films expected to be nominated remain un-pirated, including (as far as we can tell): Up in the Air, Last Station, It's Complicated, Nine, A Single Man, A Serious Man, Bright Star, Crazy Heart, The Lovely Bones, Julie & Julia, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Me and Orson Welles, The Princess and the Frog, The Informant!, and Sherlock Holmes (plus countless other ones expected to be snubbed, like The Road, Amelia, That Evening Sun, Creation, Capitalism: A Love Story, and The Men Who Stare at Goats).

So what's the problem? Did studios spring for better copy-protection this year? Were they more selective with whom they mailed screeners to? Or do pirates just really want Precious to win?

Oscar voting begins! Here's when academy members got DVD screeners [Gold Derby/LAT]