The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) last night announced an initiative to fight copyright theft.

The agency is working with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) in its initiative. It claims copyright theft is a multibillion dollar problem.

The FBI yesterday introduced a new 'Anti-Piracy' seal and warning text which it says will in future be displayed on copyrighted materials.

FBI Cyber Division assistant director Jana Monroe also released an "Education Letter" designed to inform the public of the risks and vulnerabilities associated with sites where users exchange file information.

"The theft of copyrighted material has grown substantially and has had a detrimental impact on the US economy," said Monroe. "The FBI's Cyber Division recognizes the importance of the problem and stands ready to meet the challenge. Through working partnerships with other law enforcement entities, the Department of Justice, and industry, we will continue to devote significant resources in pursuit of those who steal copyright protected data."

Brad Buckles, RIAA executive vice president and director of anti-piracy, said: "It is our hope that when consumers see the new FBI warning on the music they purchase, both physically and digitally, they will take the time to learn the do's and don'ts of copying and uploading to the Internet.

"As this seal attests, these are the serious crimes with serious consequences – including federal prosecution – to making unauthorized copies or uploading music without permission and consumers should be aware of them. We are grateful for the FBI's dedication to helping all copyright owners enforce their rights."

Keith Kupferschmid, SIIA, Vice President of Anti-Piracy Division said, "Piracy is not a victimless crime. A software program that reflects unprecedented technology, years of effort, and millions of development dollars can now be duplicated in minutes with the touch of a button. We are grateful for the FBI's willingness to take a leadership role in investigating those who engage in these egregious violations."

A full release detailing the move is available from the FBI here.