- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2004

Federal investigators yesterday introduced a logo that entertainment companies can place on their products warning consumers not to illegally copy and distribute computer games and digital versions of movies and music over the Internet.

The new seals bearing the FBI logo and a stern warning could appear soon.

Federal law-enforcement officials hope to slow digital piracy, which cost U.S. companies $23 billion last year, said Jana Monroe, assistant director of the FBI’s cyber-division.

“The theft of copyrighted material has grown substantially and has had a detrimental impact on the U.S. economy,” she said.

Industry groups representing software developers, record labels, the motion-picture industry and manufacturers of electronic games applauded the effort yesterday at a news conference in Los Angeles.

“While the seal will not solve all our problems, we think it will help,” said Keith Kupferschmid, vice president of the Software and Information Industry Association.

Software developers lose $12 billion annually through piracy, he said.

Sales of compact discs have fallen 31 percent in three years.

The film industry loses $3.5 billion a year to piracy, said Ken Jacobsen, senior vice president of the Motion Picture Association of America and a former FBI agent.

The FBI yesterday unveiled the new seal, which warns that piracy is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The seal can be included on software, CDs, DVDs and games as a digital file that is programmed to appear once the content is downloaded.

Record labels hope the FBI’s enforcement program complements their own legal dragnet to curb music piracy, said Brad Buckles, executive vice president of the Recording Industry Association of America.

EMI Music North America spokeswoman Jeanne Meyer said the company’s labels — including Capitol Records, Virgin Records and Blue Note — will place the FBI seal in CD booklets and have digital versions of the logo on CDs on all new releases by spring.

“There is no silver bullet against piracy,” she said. “This measure with the FBI is another reminder to people that sharing files is illegal. It’s just another step we can take.”

Mr. Buckles and Mr. Jacobsen said the cost of including the seal on movies and music will be insignificant.

Last year the recording industry began an aggressive effort to stop people from copying music files and making them available on peer-to-peer sites such as Kazaa by suing people suspected of illegally sharing music files.

The recording industry sued 532 persons last month, and Tuesday it sued an additional 531 persons.

While the recording industry continues to focus on civil prosecution of individuals, the FBI said it will focus on stopping crime rings engaged in illegal copying and distribution of movies, music, software and electronic games.

Miss Monroe said the FBI’s cyber-division will assign seven agents to fight digital piracy.

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