REGULATIONS CONCERNING THE PROMOTION OF FILMS ELIGIBLE FOR THE 87th ACADEMY AWARDS®

Issued by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
June 2014

OVERVIEW

In an effort to maintain a high degree of fairness and transparency in the process by which producers, distributors, marketers and others (collectively referred to as “film companies”) promote films eligible for Academy Awards® to Academy members, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has developed a set of regulations for the annual rite generally known as “campaigning.”  

It is the Academy’s goal to ensure that the Awards competition is conducted in a
fair and ethical manner. The Academy requires that voting members of the Academy make their choices based solely on the artistic and technical merits of the eligible films and achievements.

If any campaign activity is determined by the Board of Governors to work in opposition to that goal, whether or not anticipated by these regulations, the Board of Governors may take any corrective actions or assess any penalties, including disqualification, that in its discretion it deems necessary to protect the reputation and integrity of the awards process. Furthermore, any Academy member who has authorized, executed or otherwise enabled a campaign activity that is determined by the Board of Governors to have undermined the letter or spirit of these regulations may be subject to suspension of membership or expulsion from the Academy.

It should not be assumed that any tactics or activities not specifically addressed by these regulations are acceptable. The Academy is willing to review any materials or answer any questions that arise in advance. Marketers are also urged to familiarize themselves with the Academy’s regulations for using its intellectual properties (www.oscars.org/legal/regulations.html).

For more information about the Awards Rules, including eligibility and submission procedures, go to www.oscars.org/rules.

1. Screenings.

The Academy encourages the screening of eligible films in a theatrical setting for its members.  

  • Prior to the announcement of nominations, screenings presented by or funded by film companies may be followed by a Q&A session or similar live participation by persons associated with the film. Additionally, such screenings may be preceded or followed by a reception and complimentary food and beverage.
  • After nominations are announced, and until the final polls close, Academy members may be invited to a maximum of four screenings of a nominated film that are preceded or followed by filmmaker Q&As. In the UK, a fifth such event will be permitted. All participants in such Q&As other than the moderator must be nominated or have been eligible for nomination.
  • After nominations are announced, and until the final polls close, no screening event may include a reception or otherwise offer complimentary food or beverages.
  • After nominations are announced, no Academy member may be listed as a “host” of a screening and no Academy member may serve as moderator for a Q&A, unless that member is directly associated with the film.
  • These limitations do not apply to official Q&A screenings held by the Academy or the various guilds.

2. Passes to Commercial Theaters.

Companies are permitted to distribute passes or coupons that allow Academy members to gain free entry to screenings in commercial theaters.

  • These coupons may be for specific titles or for admission on a more general basis.
  • These coupons must be simple in design and production. A film’s title and logo may be printed, along with the film company’s name and logo. No photographs or other design elements specific to the film may be included. No additional text specific to the film may be included.

3. Member Outreach Including Mailers, Screening Schedules and Email.

The Academy requires that film companies limit the volume of mail and email sent to members during Oscar® season.

  • Film companies may not send a member more than one email and one hardcopy mailing per Monday through Sunday seven-day period for each film the company represents. If a particular film is represented by more than one company, only one of the companies may send an e-mail or mailing for it during such period.
  • This rule does not affect or apply to the number of physical screeners, screenplays or music CD’s that can be mailed, but it does apply to the number of mailings and emails containing (or instructing how to download) digital screeners, screenplays or music.
  • Mailings and email may incorporate a basic “for your consideration” listing of the artists who worked on the film. They may include a brief, unembellished synopsis of the film. Once Oscar nominations are announced, subsequent letters and screening schedules may refer to any current Academy nominations received by a film.
  • Mailings and email may also include screening schedules or notices of upcoming screenings (whether they be private, invitation-only screenings or those scheduled as part of a regular theatrical release). If sent by mail, these screening schedules must be in letter format (8½" x 11" paper) or on postcards (maximum size 4" x 6"). Whether these are physical mailings or emails, they are subject to above limitations and can only be sent out once per Monday through Sunday seven-day period for each film the company represents.
  • In addition to screening information, mailings and email may include a film’s basic title treatment; they may not include photographs, key art or other graphics. These mailings may not include glossy paper or card stock (card stock may only be used for postcards).
  • Mailings and email that extol the merits of a film, an achievement or an individual are not permitted.
  • Mailings and emails containing quotes from reviews about a film or achievement are not permitted, nor should they refer to other honors or awards, past or present, that have been received by either the film or those involved in the production or distribution of the film.
  • Except as permitted in Regulation #4, mailings and emails may not mention any website that promotes any eligible film.
  • Envelopes for these mailings may not include a postmark, postage stamp or any other graphic or text element that makes reference to a particular film or achievement, except that the film’s basic title treatment may appear in the return address.
  • Mailings intended to verify a member’s address and to announce the shipment of screeners are permitted and are not required to contain screening schedules.
  • Letters accompanying the delivery of screeners, CDs and scripts are permitted and are not required to contain screening schedules. In all other ways, however, they must adhere to the above regulations for mailings.
  • The Academy requires that the companies offer members the chance to opt out of receiving hardcopies of screening schedules, or of receiving mailings or e-mail of any kind.

4. Websites.

References or links to a website that promotes an eligible film are permitted in mailings, e-mail and other communications to members only if such a website does not contain photographic, audio, video, graphical and other multimedia elements normally found in websites.

  • In other words, referring to a website is permissible only if the website contains the same type of basic screening information and synopses that would be allowed in email or direct mailings, presented in a similar format.
  • However, such websites may include a link to the video on the Academy’s membership website containing the film’s question and answer session at the Academy.
  • All websites, regardless of their purpose, function and appearance, must adhere to the Academy’s other rules concerning eligibility and use of the Academy’s intellectual properties. Additional information concerning those rules can be obtained by contacting the Academy or accessing the Academy’s website at www.oscars.org/legal.

5. Quote Ads.

Any form of advertising in any medium including online and social media that includes quotes or comments by Academy members is prohibited. 

6. Screeners.

While viewing films on screeners is at times more convenient, the Academy remains firmly committed to the principal that motion pictures competing for Academy Awards should be seen and heard in a theatrical setting. We encourage the film companies and our members to present and view the films as they were intended.

  • Notwithstanding the above, the Academy will not object to the distribution of screeners to Academy members. Screeners may be distributed to members in physical form (e.g. DVD) and digitally via download or streaming.
  • Film companies may not send members duplicate screeners of the same motion picture. But, one screener of a film may be sent in physical form and an additional one may be sent in digital form.
  • Screeners may not include any additional print or moving image material, such as information about the making of the movie.
  • Screeners may include closed captioning and simple menus that allow viewers to select different starting points (chapter stops) and audio formats, although the chapter stop headings in the menu may not include captions.
  • Members may be given a choice of formats for digitally delivered screeners, so long as the delivery conforms to all other provisions of these Regulations.

7. Packaging of Screeners.

Whether housing single or multiple screeners, elaborate or promotional packaging is not permitted.

  • The packaging of screeners should be limited to simple sleeves or boxes. Outer packaging on boxes housing multiple screeners must likewise be simple in design.
  • A film’s basic title treatment may appear on the packaging.
  • Packaging for individual screeners may carry a list of “for your consideration” credits and a brief, unembellished synopsis. Tag lines, advertising or promotional copy are not permitted.
  • Packaging for a single screener should be no larger than standard DVD jewel box dimensions (approximately 1/2” thick).
  • Whether housing single or multiple screeners, elaborate or promotional packaging is not permitted.

8. Music.

Before nominations are announced, CDs of eligible scores may be sent to members of the Music Branch only.

  • The music on the CD must be the same as the music used in the finished film.
  • Each music track on the CD must be titled and include the name of the composer(s). The titles must match the corresponding title and composer(s) listed on the cue sheet that is submitted as part of the Original Score entry process.
  • Only the tracks written specifically for the film by the eligible composer(s) may be included on the CD. Music written by other composers, licensed music or music that is in any other way ineligible may not be included (even if written by the eligible composer).
  • No CDs of songs may be sent to any Academy member before nominations are announced. (Song nomination procedures already provide Music Branch voters with access to the eligible songs in the context of the motion picture.)
  • Music Branch members may not contact other Music Branch members to promote the nomination of their own song in any way, including via mail, email, telephone or social media account.
  • Music Branch members may not attend any special live performances of eligible songs unless attached to a screening.

After nominations are announced, CDs of nominated scores and songs may be sent to any Academy member, although no member may be sent duplicate CDs.

  • CDs of nominated scores must adhere to the same guidelines regarding content as described above.
  • CDs of songs must be identical to the version that is heard in the motion picture.

So long as it is done in accordance with the above guidelines, in addition to CDs, it is also permissible to distribute songs and scores digitally by providing members the ability to access or download music at a website.

  • The members may be sent a letter or e-mail informing them where and how to perform the download.
  • The letter or e-mail must conform to Regulation #3, and the website at which members can access the music must conform to Regulation #4.
  • In the course of executing the download, companies may not install cookies, Web bugs, software agents or similar items on a member's computer for any purpose, including for the purpose of collecting data or tracking online activity.
  • Neither video excerpts nor sheet music may be sent at any time.
  • All members should be given the chance to opt out of receiving CDs.

9. Music Packaging.

The packaging of CDs must adhere to the same restrictions as those described in Regulation #7 for screener packaging.

  • Packaging used in commercial/consumer distribution may not be used in mailings to Academy members.
  • Neither the packaging nor the item itself may refer to other awards or achievements.

10. Foreign Language Film Award.

Film companies may not send members a screener of a film competing for the Foreign Language Film Award, except to the extent the film is competing in other categories.

11. Screenplays.

Screenplays that are sent should be the final shooting screenplay presented in standard industry form, i.e., with plain paper or card stock covers displaying only title and writer information (no graphics), and containing no review excerpts or other promotional materials.

  • Before nominations are announced, screenplays may be sent to members of the Writers Branch only.
  • After nominations are announced, screenplays nominated in either of the two Writing categories may be sent to all members.
  • The Academy recommends that screenplays be duplicated in a double-sided format. Screenplays reproduced in smaller formats (8½" x 5½", for example) are also permitted.

It is also permissible to provide electronic versions of screenplays that Academy members can access or download at a company’s website.

  • The electronic script itself must conform to the above requirements.
  • The company may send members a letter or e-mail informing them where and how to perform the download.
  • The letter or e-mail must conform to Regulation #3, the website at which members can access the screenplay must conform to Regulation #4.
  • In the course of executing the download, companies may not install cookies, Web bugs, software agents or similar items on a member’s computer for any purpose, including for the purpose of collecting data or tracking online activity.

It is also permissible to send out screenplays in electronic form on flash drives (aka memory sticks, thumb drives).

  • Only a studio name and logo and film title(s) may appear on the exterior of the device.

In the course of collecting addresses and other preferences from Academy members, companies should allow members of the Writers Branch, as well as the full membership, the opportunity to choose not to be sent screenplays.

12. Inserts.

Brief cover letters may accompany screeners and scripts and are not required to contain screening schedules. In all other ways, however, they must adhere to the above regulations regarding mailings.

  • Information about upcoming screenings also may accompany screeners and scripts.
  • The size of these inserts may be tailored to fit the packaging; however, heavier paper or card stock may not be used. Graphics should be limited to basic title treatments.
  • Restrictions on screening schedules, as described in Regulation #3, also apply.

13. Third-Party Distribution.

Film companies are prohibited from doing indirectly or through a third party anything that these regulations prohibit them from doing directly.

  • They may not use subscriber-based publications to distribute prohibited promotional materials to an Academy member unless the member is a subscriber to those publications.
  • The Academy defines “subscriber” as a member who has taken the intentional step of requesting that a publication be sent to him or her on a regular basis. The member does not necessarily have to pay for that subscription.
  • Any Academy member who has not made such a request, however, will not be considered a subscriber, and any company that uses a publication to send the promotional materials anticipated by this regulation to such a member will be in violation of the regulation.
  • This paragraph is not intended to grant film companies permission to use the services of a third-party publication to send otherwise prohibited promotional materials to member-subscribers where such materials are sent alone and not in connection with the distribution of the publication itself.

14. Telephone Lobbying.

  • Contacting Academy members by telephone to promote a film or achievement is expressly forbidden, even if such contact is in the guise of checking to make sure a screener or other mailing was received.
  • Telephone calls to verify members’ addresses are permitted, as long as no eligible films are discussed.

15. Non-Screening Events.
Film companies are not permitted to invite members to attend any non-screening event occurring after nominations are announced and until final polls close. This includes breakfasts, lunches, dinners, parties and receptions that in any way promotes or honors a nominated film or a nominee, or is attended by a nominee or anyone with a direct association with a nominated film.

  • These regulations apply to nominees as well as Academy members, and nominees are similarly prohibited from attending such events.
  • Invitations to non-screening events are also subject to the limitations on the number of mailings in Regulation #3.

Excluded from this prohibition are sanctioned events and awards ceremonies presented by the various guilds. However, this prohibition does apply to any events organized by film companies or others that are ancillary to such sanctioned events (e.g., pre-awards receptions or parties).

16. References to Other Nominees.

  • Ads, mailings, websites, social media (including Facebook and Twitter) or any other forms of public communication by anyone directly associated with an eligible film attempting to cast a negative or derogatory light on a competing film or achievement will not be tolerated.
  • In particular, any tactic that singles out “the competition” by name or title is expressly forbidden.
  • Academy members that violate this regulation will be subject to a one-year suspension of membership for first-time violations, and expulsion for any subsequent violations.

17. The "Academy" Office.

  • Some film companies still refer to their campaign offices, in print and on the telephone, as “the Academy Office.” That’s misleading and incorrect.
  • If a name is needed for those special tactical units created to campaign for awards presented by the various awards organizations in the first quarter of the year, the Academy suggests the more accurate “Awards Office.”

For further information about these regulations, contact:
Scott Miller
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(310) 247-3000
smiller@oscars.org

To Distributors, Filmmakers and Marketers in the Foreign Language Film, Documentary Film and Short Film categories:

In general, the Academy’s Regulations Concerning the Promotion of Films describes regulations designed to apply to films entered in those feature-length film categories that require a seven-day qualifying run in Los Angeles (Best Picture, Directing, Writing, and so on).

Since judging in the Foreign Language Film, Documentary Film and Short Film categories is conducted under special rules and circumstances – and since in many instances members of those committees must view the films at special Academy screenings to be able to vote – some of these regulations, especially those having to do with screeners, are not relevant to these categories.

Other regulations, such as those having to do with mailings, websites, screenings and receptions, may be relevant and applicable to contenders in all categories. Please refer to the Academy’s Awards Rules at www.oscars.org/rules for information regarding eligibility, submissions, voting and the like.

Please feel free to direct questions about the Academy’s Regulations to the contact above.


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