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Wizard way to stop the Potter pirates; Night-sights scour cinema aisles for illegal video cameras.

Byline: MATT WITHERS

HARRY Potter movie bosses have ordered cinema ushers to carry night-vision cameras to stop pirates making copies of the latest film.

The Prisoner Of Azkaban received its UK premiere at the Odeon, in London's Leicester Square, last night.

But distributors of the movie, Warner Bros, fear bogus copies will find their way on to the internet within hours of the first screening.

Illegal video and DVD piracy is a booming business, costing the movie industry millions of pounds each year.

Hollywood has forked out fortunes to crack down on the practice, incorporating water marks and special codes on film reels so they can trace the origins of copies.

Their latest venture, which sees cameras issued along with film reels, is thought to have set Warner Bros back pounds 3,000 a go.

But cinema bosses, expecting sell-out crowds for the JK Rowling sequel, say the cost is well worth it.

Beverley King, manager of Cineworld in Llandudno Junction, said: ``They look a bit like a hand-held video camera. They were sent to us by Warner Brothers to make sure piracy is kept to an absoluteminimum. So many films are being pirated these days and we,as a cinema,are very vigilant anyway, especially with people bringing big bags in.

``It's illegal to pirate films but people don't seem to take much notice of that.''

Ms King said Cineworld was yet to catch anybody filming movies.

But it was a requirement of Warner Brothers that all ushers carried the devices while screening the Potter movie.

Anybody caught attempting to make a pirate copy can be ejected from the cinema and reported to the police.

She said: ``Harry Potter is a film that's better on the big screen.

``The only extra you get with a pirate copy is somebody's head.''

The third Harry Potter movie, said to be darker than its predecessors, is likely to be a huge box office hit.

The hi-tech instruments will remain the property of Warner Brothers and will have to be returned to the company along with the film reels.

A disappointed Ms King said: ``I would have liked to have kept one. I live halfway up a mountain and they would be great for badger-watching.''

Harry grows up -Page 9

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Cineworld supervisor Ian Pugh with one of the detection devices
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 31, 2004
Words:389
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