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Remember that Seinfeld episode where Jerry bootlegs a movie and does such a great job he becomes a legend amongst the bootleggers? Well now he would have a lot more to worry about had he been caught. Secretly videotaping movies in a New York City theater may become a misdemeanor under a bill approved by the City Council yesterday. Prior to this bill, it was only a $250 fine, a slap on the wrist compared to the new fine of $5,000 and possible jail time (up to six months).

Just as illegal music downloading is costing the music industry money, movie bootlegging cost major film studios more than $6 billion in 2005. According to the Motion Picture Association "90 percent of pirated films are generated by people who record them in theaters and then sell the duplications for mass reproduction or post them on the Internet, sometimes just hours after the movie has premiered." New York is a major source of these bootlegs with 43% of the illegal movies coming from here.

Bloomberg supports the bill and is also pushing for a state bill that would classify theater videotaping as a misdemeanor and make the second offense a felony. Last fall he also began using public nuisance laws to go after the owners of buildings where film piracy is organized, which has also resulted in the confiscation of millions of dollars in counterfeit clothing and handbags. Guess we'll stick to Netflix.

Photo via Duggy's flickr. Check out the "Crappy Bootleg DVD Covers" pool.