It suggests being nominated in one of the four major categories has a particularly profound effect on illegal downloads of indie and art house films.
The authors suggest that producers of such movies become more flexible about how and when their titles are released.
But one industry expert said that was easier said than done.
The report was carried out by Irdeto, a Netherlands-based company that sells piracy controls to the pay-TV sector.
It used “crawler” software to monitor downloads via Bittorrent peer-to-peer file-sharing services around the world and says its figures represent the minimum number of illegal downloads.
As part of the study, the company compared the amount of piracy in the week before nominations with the week after.
Selma, Wild, American Sniper, Still Alice and Birdman saw some of the biggest swings in popularity, and each accounted for more than 100,000 downloads.
By contrast, two other films that had been tipped for the awards but failed to secure nominations in the major categories did not experience similar demand: Mr Turner has been downloaded 9,086 times since 15 January, and Inherent Vice has been downloaded 53,008 times, according to the study.
The company acknowledged that not every download represented a lost sale, but it suggested the activity was particularly damaging to films that would not be classed a conventional “blockbusters”.
“The Oscars are traditionally a time for independent and less mainstream movies to generate significant revenues,” said Rory O’Connor, the company’s vice-president of services.
“In the past, such high quality movies could be funded through the Oscars mechanism by reaching a broader public – [distributors] might not have had such a big budget to publicise the films first time round, but they could then piggyback the Oscars media campaign.
“But that mechanism is breaking down because of piracy.”
He added that a solution would be for “windows” – used to stagger a film’s initial cinema release and its later screenings in other countries and sale on other formats – to be “collapsed”.
So, if a film was nominated, it could be offered for rent or sale around the world shortly after, to provide an alternative to piracy.
“People are willing to pay premium pricing for good quality and early availability [on their home TV], so I think there is an opportunity to compensate for the revenue that may be lost from a cinematic release,” Mr O’Connor said.
|Title||Illegal downloads since nomination||Piracy rate increase||Major nominations|
|American Sniper||1,389,819||230%||Picture, actor|
|Birdman||796,697||192%||Picture, director, actor|
|The Theory of Everything||776,239||161%||Picture, actress, actor|
|The Grand Budapest Hotel||636,292||41%||Picture, director|
|The Imitation Game||467,700||175%||Picture, director, actor|
|Wild||163,652||(pre-nomination piracy not detected)||Actress|
|Two Days, One Night||85,166||73%||Actress|