A copy of "The Last Samurai" has surfaced online, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said the day after it announced it was investigating the appearance on the Internet of the comedy "Something's Gotta Give."
The academy said Warner Bros., which distributed "The Last Samurai," reported the incident Tuesday. The studio declined to say whether it had identified the source of the unauthorized copy.
The downloadable version of "Something's Gotta Give" that turned up on the Internet last week carried markings identifying it as coming from a video sent to an Oscar voter, Carmine Caridi, according to a person familiar with the academy probe. Caridi, who played Det. Vince Gotelli on the television series "NYPD Blue," wouldn't comment Tuesday when contacted at his apartment in West Hollywood.
The 69-year-old Caridi's commercial agent, Malcolm Cassell, said the actor had hired an attorney. Cassell said Caridi was "mightily embarrassed" about the situation and unhappy with the "angry and threatening" communications he received from the academy, which could revoke his membership.
As to how a copy of an Oscar "screener" sent to Caridi might have wound up on the Internet, Cassell said Caridi was "vague and not forthcoming."
The screeners sent to Oscar voters have been at the center of a storm that began when the MPAA, hoping to thwart piracy, said Sept. 30 that film-awards voters would no longer receive videos and DVDs of eligible movies. On Dec. 5, a federal judge overturned the ban just in time for awards season videos to be sent out.
Mark Ishikawa, the chief executive of BayTSP, a Los Gatos, Calif.-based digital security firm, said it was technically possible to track at which point in the production process an unauthorized copy of a movie probably had been made.
There are plenty of pirated films and other works circulating: Ishikawa said his staff on a daily basis identifies 1.5 million to 3 million copyright infringements online. Ishikawa said that once caught and reprimanded, 85% of offenders never return to the sites where they traded pirated material.
The academy's inquiry into the Internet versions of "The Last Samurai," starring Tom Cruise, and "Something's Gotta Give," which pairs Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, could result in the expulsion of any academy members found to be involved.