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Universal appoints head of anti-piracy

Universal Music Group creates a new full-time position to help it combat piracy, beefing up efforts to hobble unauthorized file-swapping.

Universal Music Group has created a new full-time position to help it combat piracy.

Lawyer and former music-television producer David Benjamin will fill the role as UMG's new senior vice president of anti-piracy.

UMG said Benjamin would work with industry trade groups as well as the company's artists, songwriters, and publishing divisions to prevent unauthorized copying and distribution of the labels' music.

"Complementing UMG's ongoing efforts to find new ways to make music available to consumers, we intend to use a combination of consumer education, technology and litigation to aggressively combat piracy," Benjamin said in a statement.

Before joining UMG, Benjamin was the co-founder of ClickRadio, an interactive digital radio service. He has also represented artists, including LL Cool J and Mary J. Blige, and has produced music programming for NBC.

In recent years, music companies have been broadsided by the popularity of peer-to-peer services that have allowed millions of consumers to swap copyrighted works for free. Fearing they would lose control over their music, the labels have turned to the courts, suing peer-to-peer services such as Napster and Scour to the brink of extinction.

Benjamin's appointment comes as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which represents the major labels, is further beefing up efforts to hobble unauthorized file-swapping. So far, plans have included cracking down on companies that allow employees to swap files, threatening lawsuits against individual music swappers, and using technical measures to flood swapping sites with bogus files.