Tuesday, August 14, 2012

FBI Now Permits Use of Government Seal by All Copyright Owners

The official Anti-Piracy Warning (APW) Seal, seen above, has been approved by the U.S. Attorney General as an official insignia of the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Previously, use of the Anti-Piracy Warning Seal previously was limited to entertainment and software industry associations that had entered into written agreements with the FBI.  It became an ubiquitous symbol at the beginning of movies on VHS and DVD's.

However, as of this Monday, any copyright holder from any sector, regardless of membership in a formal association, can obtain the seal by checking off a box to confirm consent with a list of prohibitions and conditions.  The terms of use cite, among other things, that holders cannot animate or alter the emblem, or use it on child pornography.

The seal is part of a public awareness campaign to remind consumers they are subject to fines or jail time for intellectual property infringement.  Copyrighted works include films, audio recordings, electronic media, software, books and photographs.

The symbol does not provide greater legal protections for owners or signal additional penalties for violators.

Rather, the official insignia “simply serves as a widely recognizable reminder of the FBI’s authority and mission with respect to the protection of intellectual property rights,” bureau officials said in a statement.

Lawful use requires the below authorized text to be placed immediately adjacent to Seal on the copyrighted work:

The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by fines and federal imprisonment.

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