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Films, CDs, Games Get New FBI Piracy Seal


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By Sue Zeidler
Thursday, February 19, 2004; 6:10 PM

LOS ANGELES -- U.S. entertainment companies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation joined forces in their campaign against digital piracy on Thursday with a plan to place stark warnings on DVDs, CDs and video games about the penalties for making unauthorized copies.

The new warning label, unveiled at a news conference on Thursday, will carry the FBI seal and read: "The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000."

"The theft of copyrighted material has grown substantially and has had a detrimental impact on the U.S. economy," said FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director Jana Monroe, who added that cyber-crime ranks as the FBI's No. 3 priority right now behind terrorism and counter-intelligence.

The program was announced by the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents Hollywood studios, the Recording Industry Association of America, a trade group for record companies, the video game industry's Entertainment Software Association and the Software And Information Industry Association, which represents about 600 software and information companies.

Collectively, the U.S. entertainment industry claims that it loses billions of dollars annually to digital piracy.

It will be up to individual companies to decide whether they want to imprint the warning label on a disc or digitize it into text format, FBI officials said.

Ken Jacobsen, senior vice president and director of anti-piracy for the MPAA said he expects that the treatment of the new label will be uniform throughout the movie industry

Videos have carried anti-piracy warnings since the 1970s, when the proliferation of videocassette recorders first gave studios reason to fear that consumers would make bootleg copies of their movies.

Brad Buckles, executive vice president and director of anti-piracy for the recording industry trade group, said music companies hope the FBI warnings drive the message home that copyright infringement is illegal.

"As the seal attests, these are serious crimes with serious consequences - including federal prosecution - to making unauthorized copies or uploading music without permission and consumers should be aware of them," said Buckles.

The U.S. music industry since last year has filed hundreds of civil lawsuits against alleged copyright infringers it accuses of swapping unauthorized copies of songs online. Home

© 2004 Reuters

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