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Sunday, 25 November, 2001, 13:09 GMT
Potter piracy spreads to Hong Kong
Pirated video discs
Pirated video discs are on sale with Chinese subtitles
Pirated versions of the hit movie Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone have started to appear in Hong Kong - weeks before the film is due to open in the territory.

The videos are available from street vendors for about HK$20 (1.80) in the city's Wanchai district.

The film is not scheduled for release in the territory until 12 December.

Hong Kong
Recently Hong Kong has tried to crack down on piracy
Hong Kong has remained a centre for piracy despite a recent crackdown - and recent Hollywood movies are often available before public release.

Because of the government's attempts to crack down on the problem, pirate video stalls are sometimes left unmanned - and rely on shoppers' honesty to put money into a shoe box at the door.

Penalty

In 1999 Hong Kong was removed from US government piracy watchlist, after US officials saw that the territory had toughened its approach to the problem.

Richard Harris as Dumbledore
Richard Harris plays Hogwarts' head in the film
Selling counterfeit goods can now lead to a maximum penalty of four years in jail and a fine of HK$50,000 (4,500) for pirated each item sold.

But in the first six months of this year alone some 880,000 pirated videos were confiscated by customs - and a total of 1.53 million discs were seized in 2000.

There have also been reports of pirate Harry Potter videos being sold in the UK.

Cinemas

The News Of The World has reported that an estimated 10,000 videos are circulating in markets and car boot sales - but said that technical quality was very low.

Fans
US fans have queued in hundreds for Potter
The videos appear to have recorded with hand-held camcorders in cinemas.

The Harry Potter film has been a critical and commercial success on both sides of the Atlantic since its release on 16 November

It earned US$100m at the US box office in just five days, equalling the record set Star Wars Episode I: Phantom Menace in 1999.

See also:

22 Nov 01 | Scotland
Potter creator buys Scots hideaway
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