German pix zipping to Net

One-third available online before local bow

BERLIN — Two-thirds of all films showing in German cinemas are available for illegal download on the Internet, according to a study carried out by Munich-based copyright protection org Partners 4 Management and the RWTH Aachen U.

The study, presented Tuesday in Berlin, found that one-third of the pics were available before their German bow, with another one-third online by their first weekend in release.

According to the “Available-for-Download” report, pirates prefer Hollywood fare: 94% of all U.S. pics were available for illegal download while only 40% of current German films were on offer.

Examining 165 films in release between November 2004 and March 2005, the study showed nearly half of the films online stemmed from DVDs from other countries, while 40% came from special jury or press DVD screeners. Most German-language versions, however, had bad sound quality usually recorded in cinemas on microphone.

High-profile films that garnered more than 500,000 admissions on their opening weekend — and which are better protected by distributors — were usually available online only after their official start. Smaller films with less than 100,000 admissions were generally available before release, according to the survey.

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