MPAA, RIAA Again Target Fortune 1000 Firms

By Roy Mark

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The major trade associations representing the motion picture and recording industries plan to distribute a brochure to Fortune 1000 companies warning them of the potential legal liabilities of employees using company computers and networks to download copyrighted music and movies.

The brochure says research has shown that numerous corporate computer systems are presently hosting databases of music, film and other unauthorized copies of copyright material, or transmitting copyright material on peer-to-peer services. In April of last year, Arizona-based Integrated Information Systems paid a $1 million settlement after employees were found to be accessing and distributing thousands of infringing music files on the company server.

In an open letter to "America's corporate leaders" signed by Hilary Rosen, chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Jack Valenti, president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the brochure states, "As with any businesses, the people and companies that create music, movies and other copyrighted material relay on getting a fair reward for their creativity, time and hard work. That happens when people buy these works but when they steal them"

The new brochure follows an October 2002 letter, also to the Fortune 1000 companies from the MPAA, RIAA, National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and the Songwriters Guild informing them about the problem of peer-to-peer piracy and that this kind of illegal activity may be happening on corporate computer networks.

This brochure takes the next step and proposes some sample "good business practices," such as a memo to employees and a copyright theft policy.

The guide also outlines the benefits to companies of cracking down on abuse of their networks, including:

* Avoiding potential legal risks such as injunctions, damages, costs and possible criminal sanctions or financial penalties against the companies and their directors where corporate systems are used for copyright theft.

* Lowering the security risks -- from viruses and firewall breaches -- to which the illegal copying and transmission of copyright material exposes corporate computer networks.

* Preserving systems resources and employee time.