Music, Movie Industry Tells Your Boss About Your Downloads

Hollywood warns big business that MP3s are clogging up corporate networks.

Groups representing the entertainment industry have begun sending letters to the 1,000 biggest U.S. companies to make sure they're aware of the illegality of file sharing and the possible harmful effects it can have on their internal networks.

"We write on behalf of the creative community regarding the use of corporate networks to infringe copyrights using online peer-to-peer systems such as Kazaa, Grokster, iMesh and Gnutella," began the letter signed by the heads of the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America, the National Music Publishers' Association and the Songwriters Guild of America.

The letter draws parallels between the illegal sharing of music and movie files to pirating software and, similar to a letter sent to colleges and universities earlier this month (see "RIAA, MPAA Get On Colleges' Cases Over Student File Sharing"), it calls the widespread practice outright shoplifting on the grandest scale. It also blames file sharing for interfering with the business purposes of the companies' networks by tying up bandwidth with large media files.

While the letter doesn't threaten legal action, it does point out that companies whose employees are engaged in the practice are subject to lawsuits under federal copyright law. And like the correspondence to colleges, it concludes with a list of companies that manage corporate networks with tools for detecting and blocking infringing activity.

This is the latest step in an awareness campaign against illegal file sharing that began in late September with a series of ads featuring Britney Spears, Eminem and other artists condemning the practice (see "Britney, Nelly, Missy Elliott Want You To Quit Stealing Music").