updated 6/28/2006 3:20:21 PM ET 2006-06-28T19:20:21

FBI agents carried out early morning raids Wednesday and broke up two international movie-piracy rings that siphoned millions of dollars from the motion picture industry over the last year, a federal law enforcement official said.

Hordes of agents rounded up more than a dozen members of the two large-scale rings in raids throughout the New York City area, the official said. Recording equipment was also seized.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because announcement of the arrests had not been made. Details were to be unveiled at FBI headquarters later Wednesday.

A second federal official said one of the movies the suspects were conspiring to profit from was “Superman Returns,” the highly anticipated film being released this week.

Movie piracy has become a huge problem for the film industry with the advent of high-speed Internet access. The Motion Picture Association of America claims the U.S. movie industry loses more than $3 billion annually in potential global revenue because of physical piracy, or bogus copies of videos and DVDs of its films.

Videotaped copies of films in theaters often are digitized or burned off DVDs and then distributed on file-sharing networks.

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