FBI agents arrested 13 members of the group Wednesday, according to the Motion Picture Association of America, the trade group that represents six of the top movie studios.
All 13 people were due to be arraigned Wednesday in a Manhattan federal court on charges of conspiracy, copyright infringement and trafficking in counterfeit labels, the MPAA said. Each charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.
Thievespacking digital video recorders to shoot films and later mass produce DVDs to sell. The MPAA said that practice cost the movie industry $3.8 billion last year. Movie studios lose another $2.3 billion on illegal Internet downloads.
"Camcorders...supply 90 percent of newly released movies that end up on the Internet and on the streets," the MPAA said in a statement. "These recordings are duplicated and sold on the black market and loaded onto the Internet triggering an avalanche of millions of illegal downloads."