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To catch a film thief


If you're a movie-goer, you've likely watched one of the ominous pre-movie commercials from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) that warn viewers against thieving films, whether by actively downloading an ill-gotten copy of "Star Wars" or by buying a DVD on the street.

If you've missed the ads, just know that the MPAA is on the warpath to catch film rogues with digital camcorders in theaters isles. (More than 90 percent of newly released films are stolen by someone making a digital copy with the use of handheld camcorder.)

The MPAA is now backing up its fight with a Web site promoting cash rewards and online training for movie-theater employees who will act as informants.

On Monday, the MPAA teamed up with the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), The Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association (CMPDA) and The Motion Picture Theatre Associations of Canada (MPTAC) to launch an online training program for theater employees in the United States and Canada on its international Web site,

Theater employees can sign up to go through an anti-piracy training course on the Web site, and once quizzed on the material, people will be entered to win $300 every three months in which they've completed the training. The MPAA also rewards theater employees with $500 for reporting those trying to clip movies with camcorders--since September 2004, it has doled out rewards to 30 people in 69 separate instances of theft.

With the Web site, the MPAA is surely aiming to enlist more ticket-takers and snack-bar specialists in its fight with the promise of money.

Money has certainly influenced the MPAA to act.

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