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MPAA, Studios Meet With ICE to Fight Piracy

Homeland Security agency says illegal activities are funding organized crime

The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) on Tuesday hosted representatives of the Motion Picture Association of America and seven movie studios, along with federal law enforcement leaders, to attack the problem of piracy.

The IPR Center, led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), hosted the meeting to share intelligence on the latest threats to creative products.

Disney, DreamWorks, 20th Century Fox, NBC Universal, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. had representatives at the meeting.

John Morton, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for ICE, said the IPR Center is committed to fighting criminal activity that has cost American jobs, funded organized crime and exploited artists' creative output.

“ICE pledges a sustained law enforcement effort with our partners in the IPR Center to target the new threats enabled by the Internet in the same way that we have targeted ‘hard goods’ in the past,” Morton said in a statement.

A study published by the Institute for Policy Innovation estimated movie piracy costs the U.S. economy $20.5 billion in output annually and more than 140,000 jobs across multiple industries. Movie piracy costs the government more than $800 million in lost tax revenue.

For ICE, the lead U.S. law enforcement agency in attacking the global problem, the main threat is that the piracy funds organized crime. According to a 2009 Rand Corp. study, many of the same groups that illegally trade in pirated copies of films are involved in everything from human smuggling and document fraud to contract killing and the drug trade, all crime areas under ICE’s jurisdiction.

The ICE-led IPR Center is one of the government’s key weapons in the fight against counterfeiting. The IPR Center offers one-stop shopping for both law enforcement and the private sector to address the growing transnational threat of counterfeit merchandise. For more information about the IPR Center, go to www.ice.gov.