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'Clones' DVDs Already on the Attack In Malaysia

17 May, 2002 By: Staff Reporter

SINGAPORE -- A day before the movie's Wednesday bow in Malaysia, thousands of pirated video compact discs and DVDs of Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones were seized in that country.

But by then the damage had been done: The VCDs and DVDs already were widely available at local street markets for five to 10 ringgits ($1.30-$2.60) apiece.

The Tuesday haul underscored the continued rampancy of piracy despite intensified crackdowns by Malaysian authorities.

The film's official distributor, 20th Century Fox, has expressed concern over piracy's impact on the box office.

Chow Will Pin, the company's director for Malaysia, was quoted in press reports as saying, "We are aware pirated copies of the film hit the street on Sunday. Of course it will affect our business. I hope the enforcement agencies will crack down on this."

As of Tuesday, there was no line at the special box office booths in cinemas designated for the movie's advance ticket sales.

Officers from the Domestic Trade Ministry impounded more than 30,000 bootleg DVDs of new films, including "Clones," in their latest raid. They were alerted by an anonymous tip to the storage and distribution center in a house in the industrial town of Petaling Jaya.

When they entered the premises, they found the workers at the shop watching Clones on TV.

The enforcement team learned the pirates were using express buses traveling on the country's north-south freeway to distribute their goods after they arrested two men Sunday and confiscated thousands of Clones VCDs from the luggage compartment of a bus.

Malaysia ranks high on the list of the world's most notorious movie-piracy countries. Some 80 percent of major releases last year were pirated, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.

The situation is no better for the music industry: CDs have an estimated 70 percent incidence of piracy.

The authorities said they are sparing no effort to stem movie piracy. With nearly 50,000 raids carried out in the past three years, officials claim the number of night market stalls selling contraband has dropped from 2,000 last year to fewer than 500.

"We have stepped up enforcement," an official said, "but as long as the operators can make money and people buy pirated products, they will be around."

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