Maybe even more important, the goon squad of blockers lessens the odds that someone will notice the camera (often hidden under a coat) that's fastened to a seat armrest (by way of a "monopod") recording the movie onto a MiniDV cassette. They also help cover the glow from the LCD screen in the cammer's lap (which is actually a small monitor tethered to the camera by a cable) and the cable running from the camcorder to the seat's Audio Direct jack (the one that's supposed to be used by the hearing-impaired).
Now, even if you haven't yet seen the latest entry in the M:I series, you no doubt know that the mission wasn't really impossible - Tommy boy came through in the end, as always. And the same was true for our band of video bootleggers. At 3 p.m. the next day, one of the movie pirates sat down to meet with a "wholesaler" in a Dunkin' Donuts on East 116th Street in New York City's Spanish Harlem. There he sold a bunch of "master copies" of Mission: Impossible III for distribution throughout New York and the rest of the country. Meanwhile, the illegal tape had been transferred to a hard drive and uploaded to an FTP (file transfer protocol) site, where it was downloaded by accomplices in Asian "distribution hubs" such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Pakistan, and Malaysia.
Ultimately, though, this gang's 5-plus-year reign came to an end less than 2 months later - at the hands of The Man of Steel, no less. For, just as the men were about to rush out to videotape the first early-morning showing of Superman Returns on June 28, the feds swooped in and busted the international crime ring - capping a 2-year undercover investigation the FBI nicknamed "Operation Knockoff." Thirteen men were taken into custody by 175 agents, with the names of another 10 attached to arrest warrants.
These men had headed up the biggest DVD piracy operation ever, depriving the movie studios of an estimated $5.8 billion in revenue over the years. What frightened the studios just as much as the bootleggers' big haul, though, was the ease with which they pulled it off - a process that could soon become even easier.
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