Warner Bros Canada fired a broadside at Canadian lawmakers yesterday when it announced it was immediately ceasing all preview screenings in the territory as a result of what it regarded as inadequate anti-piracy policy.

Citing ongoing state and federal efforts to curb piracy in the US, Warner Bros' anti-piracy chief Darcy Antonellis said Canada had not enacted a federal law that outlawed camcording or empowered theatre staff to confiscate equipment used in illicit recordings.

A statement issued by the studio claimed that over the last 18 months approximately 70% of Warner Bros titles released have been camcorded in Canada.

The drastic policy will begin with the upcoming release of Ocean's Thirteen and will remain in effect for all successive releases from Warner Independent Pictures and Warner Bros Pictures, including Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix.

'Canada is the number one priority in terms of anti-camcording legislation,' Antonellis, the studio's senior vice president of worldwide anti-piracy operations and executive vice president of distribution and technology operations, said. 'Within the first week of a film's release, you can almost be certain that somewhere out there a Canadian copy will show up.

'Within the last 12 to 18 months we've seen a significant increase in terms of first-source proliferation that shows up on the Internet and subsequently shows up as hard goods elsewhere.'

'We regret having to cancel our screenings in Canada but our studio must take steps to protect not only our branded assets but our commitment to our filmmakers and to our distributors,' Warner Bros Pictures Domestic president Dan Fellman said. 'We've been working collaboratively with the exhibitors to encourage the government to put additional measures in place to deter and stop camcording.'

'This is an important step towards curbing piracy on a global scale,' Warner Bros Pictures International distribution president Veronika Kwan-Rubinek said. 'Piracy is the leading issue the international film industry struggles with everyday and content recorded in Canada is the first place to take action, as Canadian recorded content is distributed and viewed all over the world.'

For the past two years, Warner Bros Pictures Canada has worked with the Canadian Motion Picture Assoc to lobby the federal government to make camcording a punishable offence.