Steven Spielberg and Netflix have been in a tiff, and now the Justice Department is playing referee.

Spielberg wants to change the rules of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, curbing the Oscars eligibility of films produced by streaming services such as Netflix.

But the DOJ has an opinion on this. It says the rule change may violate federal antitrust laws. The head of the department’s antitrust division sent a letter to Academy CEO Dawn Hudson last month, raising the legal dilemma.

“In the event that the Academy — an association that includes multiple competitors in its membership — establishes certain eligibility requirements for the Oscars that eliminate competition without procompetitive justification, such conduct may raise antitrust concerns,” wrote Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general for the antitrust division.

According to the Sherman Act, Delrahim explained, the government “prohibits anticompetitive agreements among competitors.”

In response, an academy spokesperson told Variety that members have “responded accordingly” and will discuss the proposed changes at the board of governors' annual awards rules meeting later this month. Spielberg, a member of the board of governors, may be forced to change his mind.

The Justice Department letter is just another reason the academy should maintain its old rules. Spielberg’s campaign against Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu is based on the bogus idea that watching a film in a theater means something for the artistic experience. His outdated crusade would thwart films such as Netflix’s “Roma,” which won best foreign language film, best director, and best cinematography at the Oscars this year.

“Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie,” Spielberg told ITV News last year. You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy — but not an Oscar. I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.”

But they should. Plenty of crummy movies play in theaters nationwide while streaming services elevate indie filmmakers.

Luckily for movie buffs, Washington has a message for the academy. For its own legal safety, and the sake of great low-budget cinema, it should listen.