A high-quality copy of Universal's American Gangster began circulating on the Internet this week and bootleg DVDs of the movie were being sold for $5 apiece in Los Angeles, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Friday). The availability of the movie and others earlier this year, the newspaper commented, "shows that Hollywood's supposedly reinforced preventive measures on piracy aren't as reliable as the industry thought." It also noted that for Universal the problem is compounded by the fact that the bootleg version of American Gangster appears to be in pristine condition and lacks even the "not-for-distribution" scroll that identifies screeners. John Desmond, an executive with online piracy-research company MediaSentry, told the WSJ that if a bootleg copy is going to be offered online, it's best for the studios if it's of poor quality (like movies camcorded in theaters) since most consumers would rather buy a theater ticket than watch a poor-quality bootleg copy. However, the newspaper noted, pristine copies often can be made from prints that have been sent to postproduction houses.
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