Piracy is a huge issue in Hollywood, and I ain't talkin' about the Johnny Depp movies. The Motion Picture Association of America has been cracking down hard in recent years -- but how effective have their efforts been? Andy Baio at Waxy.org has tracked the availability of pirated versions of Oscar-nominated movies every year since 2003, and guess what? By the time the ceremony rolls around, nearly every nominated film can be found illegally online.

Here are his findings for this year, along with some analysis of the results. Baio reports that 28 of the 34 nominated films were online -- in DVD quality -- by the end of January. Some of those films are out on DVD already, and that accounts for some of the uploads. Others were made available to Academy members and some critics' groups by way of DVD screeners. Those screeners are encoded and tracked and watermarked, and we're threatened with our lives if we allow them to be pirated, but obviously some people are doing it anyway.

What's interesting about this year's data is that those Academy screeners are becoming less of a factor. The risk of prosecution has probably made some recipients think twice about uploading them. But also, the window between theatrical release and DVD release is getting smaller, and many films are released in Region 5 format overseas at the same time they hit theaters here. The reason for that is to counteract camcorder piracy -- there's no reason for someone to buy a pirated version on the streets of Hong Kong when a studio-endorsed DVD-quality version is also for sale -- but a lot of those DVDs make their way onto the Internet, too.

Another interesting note: In many cases, the Academy screeners are leaked online before they're mailed out. That means it's someone within the studio who's doing it, not miscreant Academy members or film critics. And that goes along with what everyone has been saying for the last couple years, that it's not people on the street doing the bulk of the pirating; it's people on the inside.

Sneaking a camcorder into the theater is old school. There are camcorder versions of most films online, but there are also DVD-quality versions -- leaked from inside the studios -- and obviously those are more attractive to viewers. Yet still the studios waste millions of dollars sending "security" personnel to preview screenings, equipped with metal detectors and night-vision goggles, to make sure nobody's recording the movie. Meanwhile, the real piracy is happening back at headquarters.

It reminds me of the arbitrary and hilarious rules about airport security. (You can have 3.4 ounces of bottled water, but 3.5 ounces? Forget it!) They don't actually have any idea how to make us safer; the important thing is that they look like they're trying. The studios know that camcorder pirates are not the real problem -- but hey, at least they know how to fight that.