Start snitching: The Los Angeles Police Department is pairing up with the downtown Fashion District and the Motion Picture Association of America to offer a cool grand for information leading to the closure of DVD production operations in the area.

(And note here that while you might end up dropping a dime on the dude selling discs on the sidewalk, the fine print here says that your info must lead to a bust of a “production” ring, not necessarily the seller).

The program comes as the holiday season will bring tens if not hundreds of thousands of shoppers to the counterfeit fashion paradise that is Santee Alley. Despite several recent busts, fake-DVD peddlers have been hard to snuff out. The peddlers are mobile, rolling out carpets and spreading out their $1-$5 wares curbside. They seem to operate like drug dealers — here today, gone tomorrow, then back again.

In fact, the LAPD states that gangs are behind some of the counterfeit-DVD traffic: “Stopping this criminal activity goes much deeper than just DVDs,” LAPD Capt. Blake Chow stated (.doc) this week. “We know that gangs are reaping the most benefit from this activity.”

The MPAA often cries about DVD counterfeiting, stating that the dubs cost the industry jobs and millions of dollars in revenues, although we always have our doubts about that (who's going to pay full price for Beverly Hills Chihuahua?).

The association offered the following tips for spotting fakes (you know, besides the fact that a guy with a teardrop tattoo is peddling for two-for-$6 from a swatch of carpeting next to the gutter):

Watch for titles that are “Too New to be True”

Movies that have yet to be released in theaters, or that are still out in theaters, are not

legally available to consumers. If very recent titles are being sold, they are almost

invariably illegal copies.

Trust Your Eyes and Ears

In many cases, the quality of illegal copies is inferior with poor sound and the movie

can appear blurry or shaky.

Other tell-tale signs: loose cellophane packaging; poorly reproduced labeling; lack of

holographic labeling; cut-rate pricing; or sales made from street vendors out of a box

or a backpack on the sidewalk.

LA Weekly