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Filmgoers pirate "Day After Tomorrow"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Three filmgoers have been caught recording the recently released disaster film "The Day After Tomorrow" with handheld video cameras in U.S. and Canadian cinemas, the Motion Picture Association of America says.

Two of the purported camcorder pirates were arrested in cinemas in Los Angeles and Canada over the weekend trying to record the film on digital video recorders for resale, and a third fled a Los Angeles cinema when he was approached by cinema staff, the MPAA said on Thursday.

The practice known as "camcording" -- a misdemeanour crime in California -- allows video pirates to steal relatively high quality copies of films within hours or days of their release.

The copies then show up as pirated optical discs sold at street markets around the world long before the films are released on DVD.

More than 52 million illegal discs were seized around the world in 2003, according to the MPAA, the leading U.S. film studio trade group.

MPAA director John Malcolm said the industry has vowed to vigorously prosecute video pirates, and has encouraged theatre owners to use metal detectors and night-vision goggles to secure screenings.

"The Day After Tomorrow" is distributed primarily by 20th Century Fox Film, part of Fox Entertainment Group, which is controlled by News Corp.
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