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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 August, 2003, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Film industry targets pirates
Pirate copies of the latest Hollywood films
Pirate DVDs of many new blockbusters have hit the streets
The British film industry is to join forces with the government in a new task force to fight UK film pirates, it has been announced.

The sale of bootleg videos and DVDs is a growing problem, up 80% in the last year, according to the Federation Against Copyright Theft.

That means piracy has cost the UK film industry £400m in the last 12 months, the research said.

It was a "direct attack" on the jobs of 50,000 people in the industry, said UK Film Council director Nigel Green, who will chair the Anti-Piracy Taskforce.

Illegal copies of blockbusters like Tomb Raider 2, Terminator 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean have appeared on sale before their cinema releases.

Cheap copies... may seem a bargain, but in the long-run we all lose out
John Woodward
UK Film Council
DVDs of Tomb Raider 2 - which does not have its UK première until Tuesday - were found on sale for £5 on London's Oxford Street.

"They were shocking quality and there was no sound for at least the first five minutes," a UK Film Council spokesman said.

The Anti-Piracy Taskforce will investigate the extent of the problem and aim to come up with solutions.

Representatives from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, film producers, distributors, cinema owners and actors' union Equity will be on board.

UK Film Council chief executive John Woodward said illegal copying and distribution threatened the future of film production in the UK.

As well as paying for poor quality copies, fans who bought pirate DVDs were "often putting money straight into the hands of organised criminals", he said.

"Cheap copies from markets and car boot fairs may seem a bargain, but in the long-run we all lose out."

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