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Friday, 10 May, 2002, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Star Wars 'cloned on the net'
Ewan McGregor
Ewan McGregor plays Obi Wan Kenobi again
Bootleg copies of the latest Star Wars movie have appeared on the internet six days ahead of its world-wide release, say reports.

A copy of Attack of the Clones appears to have been made at a private showing of the film, using a tripod-mounted digital camcorder pointed at the screen, reports the LA Times newspaper.

A second copy has also appeared on the net and is of a higher quality than the first.

Spider-man was on the net a day before release
Media technology analyst Bruce Forest has predicted that up to one million people will have seen the new film before it is even released.

"That's never happened before," he told the newspaper

Blighted

Another blockbuster, Spiderman, was also available on the net in bootleg form on the eve of its release.

The practice of putting bootlegged films on the net is not new but the scale of copying is concerning film studios.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
The Phantom Menance was copied and put online
The movie industry is hoping to avoid the kind of wholesale copying that has blighted the music industry over the last few years.

Connection speeds to the internet are increasing because of broadband, allowing high-speed transfers of large amounts of data, including films.

"It's an extremely serious threat," Jean Murrell Adams, head of the litigation department at DreamWorks SKG told the newspaper.

'Challenge'

"I'm not surprised that it's on the Internet. I talk to pirates because I want to find out why they're doing this.

"And what I've been told is that they were eagerly anticipating who would be first to do this. It's a challenge for them."

Security around Attack of the Clones has been extremely tight but producers know that all it takes is one hidden digital camera and within a few days that one copy will have been seen by countless thousands of people and spread across the net like a virus.

A film can be downloaded and then copied onto a recordable DVD found in many home computers

Hemanshu Nigam, vice president and director of worldwide internet enforcement for the Motion Picture Association of America, said that a movie which premieres on a Friday night can usually be found on the internet the following day.

Neither Lucasfilm, the movie's producer, nor 20th Century Fox, the distributor, has commented.

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