Encrypted disc priced comparably to pirated copies

The Man of Steel is fighting piracy in China after CAV Warner Home Entertainment announced Thursday that it would distribute DVDs of “Superman Returns” there — two months ahead of the rest of the world.

U.S. release is skedded for Nov. 28.

Disc’s priced at between $1.80 and $2.80, comparable to pirated prices, with an encryption technology that makes it very difficult to produce a DVD-quality copy. It will be available in more than 8,000 outlets, thousands of which had previously sold only illegally copied Hollywood films.

To the irritation of Hollywood execs and Washington legislators, pirate DVDs of hit movies are frequently on sale in China within hours of, or indeed long before, their legal equivalents in the West.

CAV Warner Home Entertainment, a joint entertainment distribution venture between Warner Home Video and China Audio Video, said it had released Superman’s latest incarnation on Mandarin language-only DVDs.

Launch comes against a background of a 100-day crackdown on piracy in China, begun in June, which has led to the closure of many stores that openly sell illegal DVDs and CDs. There have been hundreds of raids on retail and production outlets as part of the campaign.

Antipiracy campaign comes as China attempts to meet its commitments under the World Trade Organization agreements and is central to its effort to encourage innovation as it moves away from manufacturing into a knowledge-based economy.

The government’s 100-day campaign is “clearly having an impact on the legal market,” said Mark Horak, exec VP-general manager of Warner Home Video, Asia Pacific and Latin America.

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