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Avast, ye statuette

Oscar_torrents_1 If you have a sense of humor -- and your shareholders haven't invested several hundred million dollars in a slate of movies this year -- you'll have to laugh at this (Thanks, Alex!). It's from those happy-go-lucky guys at The Pirate Bay, a copyright-flouting, MPAA-evading website operating out of the Netherlands that helps people download free (and, not coincidentally, illegal) copies of all things digital. They've put together what purports to be an easy-to-use pirate's guide to the movies nominated for this month's Academy Awards, with links to downloadable bootlegs of almost all the nominees in the 24 awards categories. At least, that's what it claims; I didn't test the links, honest! It also encourages visitors to come back and rate the nominees after they've finished watching. The biggest name missing is "Notes from a Scandal," whose evident unpopularity among bootlegged film buffs bodes ill for its four Oscar nominations.

The stunt comes complete with trash talk aimed at "intellectual property landlords," including this bit:

You haven't beaten us, so why not join us? Think of a new business model that doesn't involve overpriced pieces of plastic and skanky cinemas hawking cheap carbohydrates while relying on $6/hr projectionists who can't keep a film in focus -- not to mention insulting your audiences by (to pick a few examples) surveilling us with nightvision glasses, searching bags, 30 minutes of commercials and bombarding us with ridiculous anti-piracy propaganda. Take a look at yourselves. Is it really any wonder we're winning?

It's self-serving piffle, of course, but it comes at the same time that online bootleggers and other opponents of copy protection are celebrating yet another victory over Hollywood's anti-piracy technology -- this time, exposing one of the master keys to the software protecting high-definition movies. And it provides yet another reminder that online film pirates are more than just a bunch of geeks with lots of time on their hands; they're often film buffs whose hunger for movies isn't satisfied by the market's legitimate sources. Winning the battle with this crew requires a response in the marketplace, not just in the courts. But then, that's easy for me to say -- I don't have any films in production.

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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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