According to Variety, investigators for the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) attended last weekend's San Diego Comic-Con and fingered several vendors selling illegally made DVDs of movies and TV shows. In an article entitled 'Geeks Tweak Biz With Pirated DVDs' Variety recounts how the MPAA investigators located the bootleggers and then contacted the San Diego Police Department, an action resulting in the arrest of vendors Chet and Gregory Szydlowski.
Variety duly noted that bootleg tapes and DVDs of old cartoons and foreign productions that are unavailable in the U.S. have long been available at sci-fi and comic book conventions, but also pointed out that pirated versions of films and TV series that will be soon be released here, such as the new Star Wars movie, Star Trek: Voyager, Veronica Mars, and the new Battlestar Galactica were available at San Diego.
With Hollywood's increasing participation in San Diego (see 'San Diego Bursting at the Seams'), the crackdown on bootleg DVDs comes as no surprise. But what will happen at other shows around the country; will organizers attempt to police dealers, or will the dealers themselves refrain from selling DVDs that are or will soon be available in legitimate editions? It's not necessarily a purely black or white issue, since one could argue that the current interest in anime in this country would not have been possible without the gray market importing of tapes (to say nothing of the highly organized fansubbing of TV series) in the 1980s and 1990s, but there is no excuse for selling bootleg Star War DVDs with the legitimate product scheduled for release in November.