The booming trade in pirate DVDs will soon cost the British film industry £1bn a year and jeopardise thousands of jobs, a report warns today.
The UK Film Council calls for the car boot sales which allow the illegal trade to be shut, for bigger fines for counterfeiters and to make video filming in the cinema a criminal offence.
It warns that, without action, the production and distribution of future films will harm major studios and independent movie-makers. The council estimates the black market in DVDs in Britain to be heading towards £1bn annually and reveals police and trading standards officers have seized more than three million pirated films this year, a fraction of the 60 million believed to be in circulation.
John Woodward, the council's chief executive, said the films - many illicitly recorded by camcorder - were usually of poor quality. He said: "Film pirates are not harmless 'Del Boy' characters, they are professional criminals with links to organised crime and drugs."
This weekend, The Independent discovered bootleg DVDs being sold from a stall in Holloway, north London, at £5 each, three for £10 or seven for £20. Official versions could cost as much as £17.99. They included Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban, Shrek 2, Spiderman 2 and several films yet to be released in the cinema.
The stallholder said he produced them for 48p each and claimed that he had made £250 in the past hour a half. He said: "It's the industry that is ripping people off. If they're worried about losing money, they should stop paying actors and actresses millions of pounds."Reuse content