'Spider-Man 3' Hits Theaters ... and the Streets

Officials hope illegal DVD crackdown thwarts bootleggers.

May 5, 2007 — -- The same day "Spider-Man 3" hit theaters, pirated copies of the much anticipated movie hit the streets of New York.

The DVD, plainly labeled in a flimsy case, isn't exactly high quality. Like the majority of bootleg DVDs, it was probably recorded in a theater by someone with a hand-held camcorder.

But cheap copies of movies make up a booming global business. Now, lawmakers in New York City, the epicenter of the counterfeit movie trade, are trying to do something about it.

"A movie can come out on a Friday, or you can have a movie that hasn't even come out yet, and it can be worldwide in hundreds of thousands of copies in 24 to 48 hours," said Dan Glickman, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America.

The film industry claims counterfeit DVDs cost them $6 billion a year. New York City police officer Brian O'Neill explained that the bootlegging process is streamlined and efficient.

"They are made by some sitting in a movie theater, and the labs here in New York and some of the areas, they can mass produce from a single DVD," he said. "They'll have a number of computers and they can mass produce them by the thousands."

This week, New York City began cracking down on video tapers by passing a new law that makes it easier arrest them, and makes the offense punishable by jail time. The U.S. government has also put anti-piracy statues in place to try and curb the wave of crime.

"Certainly the piracy, the high-tech piracy, is getting worse because there are more and more ways to do it than there ever were before," Glickman said.

While blockbusters like "Spider-Man 3" lose millions to bootleggers, smaller budget movies are most in danger. The less profitable those films are, the less likely they are to get made, which means fewer choices for consumers.