"Screeners" are the DVD copies of films that are circulated to academy voters prior to the Oscars and for many smaller independent films, which often don't get wide distribution, it's their best shot at an award and as a result money, according to the Web site themediadrome.com.
Citing "a determined commitment to combat digital piracy and to save movie jobs in the future," the MPAA said in September its member companies plus DreamWorks and New Line would not send out any screeners for awards consideration.
"Screeners have become an important part of the way small, well-written films find their audience," Victoria Riskin, president of Writers Guild of America West, told Daily Variety.
"Oscar winners such as Bill Condon in "Gods and Monsters," Julian Fellowes in "Gosford Park," and John Irving in "The Cider House Rules" were first brought to the attention of academy voters via just these means. To place a gag order on 'screeners' is to tilt the playing field from small films to large."