Burn after viewing: DVD screeners are part of award season – and piracy

The Baftas and Oscars begin with a DVD being sent out to thousands of members of the industry bodies. It's a vital part of marketing – but it's also blamed for the exponential rise of piracy

You want a Bafta award, but your film isn't out yet – or worse, it may have been and gone, or be a tiny release art film. How do you make the required impact? For more than a decade, in the scramble for awards votes, one particular weapon has proved of enduring effectiveness: the DVD screener.

Every year, in October and November, every voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) will take regular delivery of packages of shiny new DVDs, all marked "For your consideration" and accompanied by dire warnings of the legal penalties that will follow should anyone succumb to the temptation to upload them to the internet. (Several even
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