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Curtain Falls On Star Wars Bootleggers

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FAYETTEVILLE — It can take months for a movie to make it from the big screen to the local video store. But in Fayetteville, new releases including "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" and "The Mummy" are already available on tape.

But do not get too excited. It is illegal, and police shut down the show Friday night.

Flea markets are a great place to find a bargain, but police say some of the items in one booth are too good to be true.

Movies still in the theaters are for sale there. Investigators are after the bootleg copies of "The Phantom Menace" and other popular films.

"The people they need to be going behind are the people who make the tapes, not the little people," said one woman who said she was the booth owner's sister.

At a flea market on Bragg Boulevard, the tapes are not just available in one area. A hidden camera caught another operator trying to sell the new Star Wars movie.

It is not just movies that are still in the theaters that can be bootlegged. Police say some of the Disney movies are also counterfeit copies.

Movie names printed right on the cassette pass the test. Industry experts say labels are a sure sign a copy is illegal.

And, the illegal copies are getting better ratings. They have improved picture and sound.

"Someone is actually going in, taking the true reel of the film in the movie theaters, and from there hooking it up to hundreds of video cassette recorders," said Investigator Regina Hart.

Police got their picture perfect ending. They say they got the bootleg copies before they sold out.

The booth operator will be charged with a misdemeanor.

Police say it could be upgraded to a felony after theMotion Picture Associationputs a value on the bootleg tapes.


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