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FBI spotlights digital piracy

As part of its new resources to track down online pirates, the feds announce an antipiracy warning label that will be used on digital music, movies and software.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced a new antipiracy warning label Thursday that will be used on digital music, movies and software, cautioning of legal consequences for people involved in piracy.

The new initiative is part of an increased FBI focus on digital piracy, bureau officials said. While no details were available, officials said that more money and manpower would be devoted to tracking down organized online piracy groups.

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"To combat this crime, the FBI will continue to work with local, state and federal law enforcement as well as private sector groups to target and dismantle these criminal organizations," said FBI Assistant Director Jana Monroe, speaking at a news conference in Los Angles along with representatives of the recording, film and software industry trade associations. Cybercrime as a whole was the bureau's "No. 3 priority," behind terrorism and counterintelligence, Monroe said.

The announcement helped underline how seriously the federal government is taking industry complaints about rampant digital piracy on file-swapping and other digital networks, although actual criminal prosecutions remain fairly rare and focused on large-scale operations.

Most FBI antipiracy work has targeted rings such as the software-focused DrinkorDie, or the music-focused Apocalypse Crew, whose alleged leader pled guilty to criminal copyright infringement charges last August. Ordinary file-swapping has so far been left to civil prosecutions by the Recording Industry Association of America.

The new label announced Thursday draws on the familiar warning messages contained on virtually all Hollywood videocassettes. In this case, it will come in the form of a "seal" that will be affixed to physical products, or displayed as a digital file if downloaded online, cautioning that unauthorized copying can be subject to prosecution.

The exact form of the seal will be determined by the producer of the product, and is still being worked out by music, movie and software companies, the trade association representatives said.