The US Federal Bureau of Investigation is teaming with several entertainment and software industry organisations to launch a new antipiracy seal and warning text for manufacturers to display on CDs and software.
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"We hope consumers take time to learn the do's and don'ts of copying and uploading music on the internet. As the shield attests, these are serious crimes with serious consequences," said Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) anti-piracy director Brad Buckles. "We also hope that this attention-grabbing reminder will reinforce the fact that copyright infringement is theft."
An anti-piracy seal seems aimed more at discouraging consumers than career criminals - the kinds of file-swappers the RIAA targets with its campaign of individual lawsuits. But FBI agent Chris Dowd, an intellectual property rights specialist in the agency's cybercrime division, said widespread use of the seal and warning text will help the FBI pursue the for-profit pirates it targets.
"It helps us with the prosecution and investigation. We need to articulate that these people did know the law," Dowd said. "By having this widely spread and advertised, this is a great way to say, 'How could you not know?'."
What form the seals will take, and how soon they will turn up on retail products, is still being worked out by the various industry associations working with the FBI. RIAA's Buckles said his organisation's members are developing plans for the seal; Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) representative Ken Jacobsen said the MPAA's seven members have not yet discussed how they will use the seal.
In addition to showing up on product labels or box covers, the seal can be applied electronically. Officials from the Software and Information Industry Association and Entertainment Software Association said they are considering splash screens that would display the seal when software is installed.
Stacy Cowley writes for IDG News Service