Using the FBI’s Anti-Piracy Warning Seal to Thwart Copyright Infringement

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.

The battle against copyright infringement seems never ending. But now all copyright owners have another tool to try to reduce theft of their works.

The Anti-Piracy Warning (“APW”) Seal is the official insignia of the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice, which is designed to help detect and deter criminal violations of U.S. intellectual property laws by educating the public about the existence of these laws and the authority of the FBI to enforce them. As Rochelle D. Alpert and Karen A. Butcher explain over at JD Supra, previously only entertainment and software industry associations could use the seal that you see at the beginning of movies. But now, all copyright owners, even those who don’t register their work (but should, of course!), may use the seal, as long as they comply with the regulations for the use, found at 41 CFR Section 128-1.5009.

The APW Seal can only appear on works that meet all of the following:

  1. Are copyright-protected (no registration of a work is required to use the seal);
  2. Are subject to protection under U.S. Criminal Code provisions; and
  3. Would not violate federal law if produced, sold, publicly presented, or distributed by mail or in affecting interstate commerce.

You may download a copy of the APW Seal from the FBI website. Note that you must place the text:

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.

immediately adjacent to Seal on the copyrighted work. Several alternate forms of the warning language will be available in the near future.

You may not want to put the seal on your photos, as shown above. And the best protection for your copyrights is to register your photos and to include your copyright management information and copyright notice on or adjacent to your photos. But it’s great that the government is providing additional opportunities for all copyright owners to protect their work.

HT: David Oppenheimer - www.performanceimpressions.com

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Carolyn E. Wright

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