Movie bootlegging may now pose a greater threat to the film industry than ever before. It has been estimated that movie bootlegging costs over $900 million and the loss of 23,000 jobs annually in New York state. Combined with DVD piracy, internet leaks and the resulting losses in production, the state can lose over $3 billion in a year.
One of the problems is that there are so many ways to easily bootleg movies, such as simply smuggling a camera into the movie theater. A cam, what the bootlegged movie is sometimes called, is a financial threat to the theaters and those relying on their income because many people are viewing the movie for the price of only one ticket. The theaters have attempted to deter filming cams by banning people from carrying bags, but the small size of cameras has made it easier to smuggle them into the theater. Ushers are now being equipped with night vision goggles to better catch bootleggers in the act of making cams. Other cams are made from the projectionist booth itself, recorded by actual employees of the movie theater. This creates better recordings because of the center view from the booth and audio that can be recorded directly.
More and more commonly, bootlegging is reliant on rips and screeners which tend to offer top of the line reproduction quality. The ripping of DVDs is the use of software to extract a copy from officially licensed media-a rip. These are generally the easiest method of bootlegging films and produces the best quality results. A screener (SCR) is an advance copy from studios which are used for production or promotional purposes and usually lacking finishing touches, generally "rough cuts" never meant for public viewing. Movie studios are affected directly in these cases and leaks can cause a production to be revised or even canceled. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has endeavored to stop this practice by drafting contracts with harsh penalties for leaks. A leak to the public earned one offender a $150,000 fine for each title leaked.
Aside from monetary concerns, the creators behind a film often express that their creativity is being diminished by bootleggers. This loss of full production (e.g., a black and white DVD cover) is one of the red flags that indicates a probably bootleg. The obvious sign of a bootlegged movie is seeing it for sale before the title has even been released to theaters. It should go without saying, but some people need it to be said: the absolute best way to experience the highest quality film is in a local movie theatre.
Motivations to bootleg movies are more than just financially centered. Some studios place moratoriums on certain releases which limits the sales of the release during a set amount of time (e.g., Disney). This is often an attempt to increase sales in a short period of time by increasing demand and superficially reducing the supply. The problem comes from those who miss out on owning their own official copy and, instead of waiting, seek it from a bootlegger. Titles which are out of print or have never been released also are likely to draw the attention of bootleggers.
It is important to impede these sorts of activities for the benefit of all movie theaters of New Hampshire. The FBI and the MPAA are asking that anyone in New Hampshire with knowledge of bootlegging operations call 1-800-NO COPYS (1-800-662-6797).