MPAAchief Dan Glickman has hailed the passing into law this week of the FamilyEntertainment and Copyright Act, which makes camcording theatrical releases afederal crime punishable by up to three years in prison.

George Bush signed the law earlier this week following its recent passage through Congress.

"Video piracy is not a victimless crime," Glickman said in a statement. "Ithurts the hundred of thousands of hard working Americans who make the magic ofthe movies. It hurts law-abiding tax payers by creating an illegal black-marketthat evades taxation. It hurts our economy and it hurts our society bydiminishing respect for the rule of law."

According to the MPAA film piracy costs member studios approximately $3.5bn inlost potential earnings each year.

However a recent report by Smith Barney analyst Jill Krutickprojects that next year losses to all sectors of the industry includingtheatres, video rental stores and DVD factories will amount to $5.4bn.