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Pirates Already Get 'Potter' to Asian Market

November 20, 2001|Bloomberg News

Pirate copies of AOL Time Warner Inc.'s "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which set box office records at its U.S. and Canada opening last weekend, are already on sale in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Bootleg video discs of the movie, due for its Asian release in Malaysia and Singapore on Thursday, are selling for $1.20 to $1.30. Low-grade copies filmed in movie theaters with pocket digital video cameras arrived in Malaysia's capital Sunday and in China's on Monday, street sellers said.

"This is a nightmare. Within a week, all of Asia will be flooded with illegal copies of 'Harry Potter,"' said Sam Ho, assistant director at the Hong Kong office of the Motion Pictures Assn. of America.

The appearance of illegal copies so soon after Friday's premiere shows how organized video pirates are and is likely to fuel calls to regional governments to crack down harder on copying, which movie and software producers say costs them millions of dollars in lost sales.

"We will probably lose 20% to 30% of the box office taking on this one," said Chow Will Pin, general manager of Twentieth Century Fox unit distributing "Harry Potter" in Malaysia.

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