FBI Steps Into Illegal Downloading Debate

FBI labels warning against illegal copying of digital music, movies and software could begin showing up soon on computer games, DVDs and CDs as part of a new effort to fight billions of dollars in intellectual property losses, federal officials said Thursday.

The labels, which bear the FBI seal (searchand resemble those that have appeared on VHS tapes for years, warn of the consequences for illegally copying and distributing digital content.

"This anti-piracy seal should serve as a warning to those who contemplate the theft of intellectual property, that the FBI will actively investigate cyber crimes and will bring the perpetrators of these criminal acts to justice," said Jana Monroe, assistant director of the FBI's cyber division.

Members of the music, film and software industries who attended a news conference announcing the labeling program said they hoped the effort would dissuade consumers from buying cheap, bootlegged CD copies of their products.

"We hope that this is an attention-grabbing reminder to music fans," said Brad Buckles, executive vice president of the Recording Industry Association of America (search). "Piracy is no victimless crime."

U.S. software companies lose up to $12 billion a year to piracy, according to the Software and Information Industry Association (search). Music companies lost more than $4.6 billion worldwide last year, according to the RIAA, and movie industry officials pegged their annual losses from bootlegged films at $3.5 billion.

Monroe, whose FBI cyber division was created 18 months ago, said cyber crime is now the agency's third priority behind terrorism and counterintelligence.

The labeling program announced Thursday is part of a strategy geared toward organized groups that copy and distribute DVDs, CDs and software, but doesn't address the rampant file-sharing of music, movies and software that occurs over the Internet. FBI officials said it was part of a new initiative against cyber crime in general, but didn't discuss any other steps they plan and didn't say how much they would be spending on the program.

Entertainment companies are not required to include the warning label on their products, and there is no telling how soon they may begin to appear.

Click here for a fair and balanced report by Fox News' Adam Housley.