Asia, and in particular Hong Kong, has been targeted by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) as the main source of pirated DVDS and VCDS, costing the American film industry up to $3bn annually.

With the recent discovery in Hong Kong of over 80 underground facilities replicating copies a new 'reward program' has been introduced offering money in exchange for information on known pirates.

Meanwhile, India is proposing to enforce much stricter laws, including penalties and even jail time to combat the highly organised crime syndicates. Piracy accounts for around 60% of film sales in India. Another solution suggested by the local film industry was to raise public awareness of piracy using famous artists to create more of an impact, and even speeding up the release of films outside the US to combat copyright theft.

Meanwhile, Russian video pirates are also cutting into filmakers' revenues. Hollywood says its studios lose about $300m annually to piracy in Russia. And in South Africa the Federation against Copyright Theft estimates that the sale of counterfeit DVDS produces a loss of $6.1m a year to video outlets.

Cyprus has become one of the key transit points for millions of pirated DVDS and VCDS in Europe with Asian countries using it as a base from where to circulate copies within neighbouring European countries.

Piracy is rampant throughout the world as the World Wide Web makes the inaccessible easy to reach. Downloading new films just as they are released in the US enables other countries to sell the pirated copies before they get a theatrical release internationally.

More cost-efficient transport quickens the process. Earlier this month a passenger was intercepted in Johannesburg airport carrying 3,800 pirate DVDS.. The ever-increasing global popularity of DVDS has fuelled the rate of piracy threatening not only large film corporations but local video rental companies and even individual cinemas.

As David Kessler, Head of France's national cinema body the CNC, said rather dramatically at a recent debate in Cannes, could this be the 'death of culture''