The war against piracy hasto be fought on several fronts, and the need to educate consumers that theycould go to jail for downloading or copying films is paramount, delegates atthe annual Cinema Expo conference in Amsterdam heard today (June 23).

A wide-ranging seminar heldhere on Wednesday morning highlighted the differences in methods of piracyacross markets and focused on tactics to stop consumers buying or dealing incopied films.

"It is widelyrecognised that there is no silver bullet solution against piracy," saidAndreas Dustmann, a lawyer advising Warner Bros' German office.

Dustmann said thatdistributors need to employ several methods to protect themselves againstpiracy including secure cinemas, better copy protection on DVDs and videos, legalproceedings against offenders and public relations -- "a lot of peoplehave no idea its illegal to download illegal films," he said.

The MPAA and US theatreowners group NATO this week launched a campaign to stop people recording incinemas, offering cash rewards for theatre staff who stop occurrences ofillegal recording.

In Germany, one of thebiggest problems is illegal internet downloads, with 3.8% of the populationdownloading pirated features from the internet in 2002. "If you thinkthese figures don't look alarming that shouldn't be the case," saidDustmann, who pointed out that 3.8% translates as 15.5 million films downloadedin Germany in 2002.

About 80% of these filmswere downloaded before their home video release: The Day After Tomorrow,for instance, was being downloaded illegally in Germany one just day after itslocal theatrical release.

In the UK, disc piracy ismore of a pressing problem than downloading, said Jim Angel, director ofoperations at the Federation Against Copyright Theft.

Angel said that in 2003,FACT, along with the police and Customs and Excise, seized 1.82 millionillegally copied films, a 418% increase on 2002. Methods of piracy differregionally in the UK, with home-copied CDs and DVDs more available in the Northof England and Scotland, and mass-produced pirate discs more available in theSouth.

"Piracy really is thenumber one issue within our company," said Trevor Albery, director,European anti-piracy counsel, corporate anti-piracy affairs at Warner BrosEntertainment. The company's own figures show that pirate copies of films shotin cinemas with camcorders can be bought illegally sometimes before theofficial theatrical release. What A Girl Wants, for instance, wasavailable eight days after release, and Matchstick Men was availablenearly two weeks before release.

For the day-and-daterelease of The Matrix Revolutions, Warner Bros' anti piracy methodsincluded hand carrying prints to labs and theatres, monitoring the internet andencoding prints.

"What we're seeing nowis a convergence between online and offline piracy," Albery warned, pointing out the viral effectthat a small number of internet copies can have when duplicated and distributedby disc.

Most UK piracy seizures areshipments from Malaysia and Pakistan, with China, Thailand and Indonesiaranking highly as well. Over 1.2 million discs have been seized this year alonein the UK, but it is difficult to quantify how much of the piracy market thisfigure represents. "We reckon that [seized discs] account for slightlybelow 10% [of the whole UK piracy market]," Angel said.

The seminar also looked athow different markets were trying to stop consumers buying pirate discs ordownloading pirate copies of films from the internet.

In Germany, a provocativescare campaign was launched last autumn to educate consumers about thepotential prison sentences they face if caught pirating films. One of the threehard-hitting three TV spots shows a young girl crying over her missing fatherwho has been jailed for piracy. The ads have been controversial in theterritory, but they seem to be getting the message across: a poll showed that50% of people were less likely to download films illegally after seeing theads.

Germany has a sentence ofup to five years for copyright theft, while the UK has a sentence of up to 10years.