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Geeks tweak biz with pirated DVDs

Bootlegged tapes, discs run rampant at Comic-Con

Turns out there’s a dark side to the geeks.

At last week’s San Diego Comic-Con, where nearly every studio put on a major presentation to woo an estimated crowd of more than 100,000 fanboys, pirated DVDs for sale were as rampant as celebrity panels.

MPAA investigators were on hand to investigate rumors that bootleg discs have become a regular occurrence at Comic-Con. Locating several comicbook booths also selling illegally made movies, org contacted the San Diego Police Dept. Vendors Chet and Gregory Szydlowski were arrested on felony charges that carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Bootleg tapes and discs have a long history at comicbook and sci-fi conventions, where fans often look for copies of old cartoons and foreign productions that aren’t sold legitimately in the U.S.

But mixed in with obscure titles at Comic-Con were numerous pirated movies that are or shortly will be available.

A scan of three booths selling bootleg discs at Comic-Con revealed titles including “Star Wars,” “Star Trek: Voyager,” “Veronica Mars” and the new “Battlestar Galactica.”

A rep for Comic-Con didn’t return calls for comment.

But with big studio presentations supporting growth of the confab over the past few years, it’s a sure bet that Comic-Con execs are going to feel the heat to keep vendors selling back issues of “Batman” rather than bootlegs of “Batman Begins.”

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