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New federal task force to crack down on music, movie piracy

February 12, 2010 |  4:24 pm

BittorrentThe music and movie industries seem to have blown through every option in the playbook in their fights against illegal downloads.

Now, they're finally getting some help from the U.S. government in the form of a task force for intellectual property crime, the Justice Department said on Friday.

The announcement was vague, but this watchdog group will work with the newly created intellectual property enforcement coordinator as well as international organizations to fight copyright infringement. President George W. Bush appointed the first IP czar in October 2008.

"This task force will allow us to identify and implement a multifaceted strategy with our federal, state and international partners to effectively combat this type of crime," Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement.

The Recording Industry Assn. of America and Motion Picture Assn. of America -- the trade associations representing the interests of the record and film industries, respectively -- have tried in the past going after the software makers that facilitate piracy.

The organizations have also sued individuals accused of downloading illegally -- who, ironically, may be among their best customers. They've even attempted to sue a grandmother for downloading Snoop Dogg tracks.

Despite all of these efforts, piracy remains rampant. Although the Justice Department didn't directly point to the struggles facing music and movies, they are perhaps hit the hardest by digital theft and stand to benefit most from federal intervention.

"The rise in intellectual property crime in the United States and abroad threatens not only our public safety but also our economic well-being," Holder said in the statement.

By that, Holder probably isn't talking about the few dollars that college kids save from not having to buy a CD, but rather the Hollywood jobs potentially on the chopping block.

-- Mark Milian

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Photo: Bram Cohen is the creator of Bittorrent, one of the most popular computer-transfer protocols for pirated content. Credit: Associated Press