Brussels-based lobby group, the European Film Companies Alliance (EFCA) has torn into the Oscars' screening tapes ban, describing it as a "blow to cultural diversity", "evidence of arrogance" and a threat to the Oscars themselves.

EFCA, which represents many of the most muscular European film companies, including Svensk Filmindustri, CLT-Ufa, Intermedia, Lusomundo, Nordiskfilm, Pathe, UGC and Zentropa, rubbishes the compromise hatched out between the MPAA and AMPAS under which Academy members will be granted tapes, but nobody else.

"The compromise on the screeners ban is evidence of the MPAA's sheer arrogance and of its ignorance of the richness of world cinema." And in a line which has the whiff of a trade war it says: "Participation in the Oscar process is one of the best ways to promote European films in the US. To limit promotional activities is akin to erecting barriers to access the US market."

EFCA, which itself has campaigned against piracy, says it understands the MPAA's concern, but feels that the screeners ban approach is wrongheaded. "Piracy should not be used to discriminate in favour of the big budget studio blockbusters to the detriment of independent films. The screeners compromise will end up devaluing the [Academy] awards by removing worthy contenders from the competition."