Anti-fraud detectives have turned their international fight against illegal downloads to a small French town, where a mystery pirate has been filming Hollywood blockbusters at the local cinema and posting them on the internet.
Detectives are so determined to catch the pirate that they posted an agent behind a life-size cardboard cut-out of John Travolta facing the cinema's audience for four days - but to no avail.
Other Clouseau-style surveillance operations to unveil "THX fuck" – the culprit's internet pseudonym, which appears on peer-to-peer film sharing sites – have all proved fruitless.
The pirate has confounded agents sent by Warner Bros and managed to escape detection despite the routine use of by agents of infra-red binoculars during each film.
For the past three years, the movie burglar has recorded a string of films with a device believed to be a mobile phone or video camera at the Ciné Lumière cinema in Vierzon in the Cher region, north central France.
The day after the French release of Superman III in 2006, the cinema received a call from Columbia studios informing them that a pirated version recorded in their theatre was available free on the internet.
At first, they suspected the projectionist until a detective hid in his cabin, but realised the film angle was wrong.
The majors were able to track the pirated internet film down to the small French town as each copy has an identity tag invisible to the naked eye which flashes up for 1/86th of a second. The soundtrack also has a tiny, almost inaudible identity sound tag known only to distributors.
France passed tough new legislation on internet piracy in June, but it was subsequently deemed unlawful by the constitutional council and a new version will go before parliament in the autumn.