The MPAA and US theatreowners group NATO have launched the Anti-Camcording Rewards Programme, a cashincentive scheme designed to thwart illegal recording activity.

US theatre staff who catchindividuals recording pictures, notify the police and stop the recording willbe eligible for cash rewards of up to $500.

According to the MPAA,pirates typically capture a picture on camcorder in its first few days ofrelease before distributing it worldwide via peer-to-peer file-sharing networksand other online outlets.

Overseas disc-replicationlaboratories use the pirated picture to create illegal DVDs and other opticaldiscs and sell the physical copies to bootleggers. The MPAA says it seized53million discs across the world last year.

"Last week, we began a ramped-uppublic information and education campaign to inform the American public aboutthe dangers of theft of copyrighted movies," outgoing MPAA president JackValenti said in a statement.

"This announcement today isconfirmation that we are determined to protect those creative works. We aregrateful that our exhibition partners are joined in this effort."

"NATO and its members arecommitted to fighting piracy on every front," said NATO President John Fithian.

"Theatre employees areincreasingly vigilant about individuals who surreptitiously set up camcordersin their theatres."

California and New York areamong 15 states to outlaw the use of recording devices in theatres.

The MPAA's office oftechnology is supporting the development of several anti-camcordingtechnologies, including jamming devices, forensic watermarking and in-theatrecamcorder detectors.