The rules! The rules! Here they are. AMPAS release:

Rules Approved for
81st Academy Awards®

Beverly Hills, CA –– The governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved the rules for the 81st Academy Awards at their Tuesday evening (6/17) meeting. The only significant changes were in the Music – Original Song category. Other modifications of the rules include normal date changes and minor “housekeeping” changes.

Three items of note were altered in the Original Song rules. First, while there continues to be no limit on the number of songs from a given film that can be submitted for consideration, no more than two songs from any one film may be nominated for an Academy Award.

Also, in addition to the annual screening event at which members of the Music Branch view clips featuring the eligible songs as they appear in the films and vote, DVDs of those same clips will be made available to branch members who are unable to attend the screening; ballots will accompany the DVDs and must be returned by mail.

Music Branch members who have one or more songs in contention for nominations do not vote in that phase of the balloting. They remain eligible to vote on the final ballot to select the winner.

The only other category with a notable change is the Foreign Language Film Award and as was the case in 2006, the alteration is a procedural one rather than one in the rules per se. For the 81st Academy Awards, the two-phase process by which the nominees are selected will remain intact. However, the Phase I committee – which is open to any voting member who views a minimum number of the eligible films – will now vote to determine only six of the nine films that will ultimately go to the Phase II committee. The other three titles will be determined by those members of the 20-member Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee who have qualified to vote in the category. The executive committee’s selections will be made after the Phase I voting has been tallied.

Complete rules for all categories can be viewed online at www.oscars.org/rules.

Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees. The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Academy’s Board of Governors for approval.

Academy Award® nominations in all categories will be announced on January 22, 2009. The 81st Academy Awards presentation will be telecast live by the ABC Television Network on Sunday, February 22, 2009.