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Chinese DVD Pirates Pass Off Other Movies as 'Spider-Man 3'

Chinese counterfeiters, determined to cash in on the hype of "Spider-Man 3," have taken piracy one step further, releasing faked copies of different movies in Spider-Man sleeves.

Sony Pictures Entertainment said on Tuesday DVDs in China reported to be pirated copies of widely anticipated "Spider-Man 3" were in fact copies of its predecessor, "Spider-Man 2."

On Thursday, street vendors were selling discs marked with "Spider-Man 3" packaging, featuring a picture of the hero crouching in a black spider suit, and crediting stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in Chinese.

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A copy bought for 10 yuan — a little over $1 — came with the vendor's caveat that it was "not good quality."

When played in a DVD machine, the screen showed a 2001 television movie "Earth vs. The Spider" starring Dan Aykroyd as a detective investigating the case of a spider-like killer.

A copy obtained on Tuesday, with similar packaging and an anti-piracy warning on the back, would not play in a DVD machine.

Sony said in a statement that it had found no evidence of "Spider-Man 3" DVDs on the streets in China or on the Internet, underscoring Hollywood's determination to fight Chinese counterfeiters, which they say costs them billions every year.

DVD shop vendors said it was still "too early" to obtain the fakes. The movie had its world premiere in Tokyo earlier this month, but will not be released in U.S. theatres until May 4.

"Wait a few days," said a worker at a DVD shop in Beijing's Sanlitun embassy district, who declined to leave her name.

"I'll have a good quality copy for you then," she said, before recommending a pirated copy of Martin Scorsese's "The Departed."

China has hit back at U.S. complaints to the World Trade Organization that it is not doing enough to tackle piracy, and has conducted stage-managed events in which police have crushed millions of DVD, music and software fakes in recent weeks.

Several DVD vendors said they had noted a crackdown.

"Business has been slow recently," said a shop assistant, surnamed Hong. "There have been too many checks ... Maybe there will only be legitimate copies soon," she said.