Simon Cowell Gets Help from FBI Special Ops Unit

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Television personality and music business tycoon Simon Cowell is turning to U.S. law enforcement officials to curtail computer hackers from stealing recordings from his music label’s artists.

The “American Idol” judge has enlisted the help of the FBI to track down those responsible for releasing Syco artists’ music. Such "intellectual property" theft is a federal offense punishable with fines and imprisonment.

The man known as the "Donald Trump" of the music business had previously asked for British police assistance to help discover the identity of the person or persons responsible for releasing singer Leona Lewis’ “Echo” CD online before it officially hit the stores and legitimate Internet sellers last November.

Cowell, along with the other bosses at the music label, is reported to be working with the FBI to help solve the case after another musician's work -- Alexander Burke -- was stolen by hackers. Her next single was discovered to have been illegally released on music file-sharing sites.

In the last couple of years, the FBI and law enforcement agencies from other nations have joined forces to protect copyrighted material from thieves who deprive artists and companies from collecting their legitimate fees.

Intellectual property theft is defined by U.S. federal law enforcement as the theft of material that is copyrighted, the theft of trade secrets, and trademark violations.

A copyright is the legal right of an author, publisher, composer, or other person who creates a work to exclusively print, publish, distribute, or perform the work in public. Examples of copyrighted material commonly stolen online are recorded music, movies, and computer software.

Theft of these products affects the entire U.S. economy. Billions of dollars are lost every year to IP pirates. For example, thieves sell pirated computer software for games or programs to millions of Internet users. The company that actually produced the real product loses these sales and royalties rightfully due to the original creator.

According to FBI officials, the bureau is committed to protecting U.S. businesses and the nation’s economy in this age of globalization.

Whether it’s dismantling terrorist networks that seek to attack U.S. businesses and hurt economies around the world, or tracking down cyber villains who disrupt e-commerce by hacking corporate web sites or ripping off American artistic creations, the FBI frequently works closely with members of the business community including executives from motion picture, music and television companies.

"While the Internet has opened the doors to a new world of communication and commerce, technology is a double-edged sword. Entrepreneurs and engineers are not the only ones who recognize the vast potential of the Internet. Criminals and terrorists do, too. Even traditional crimes have migrated online, exploding on the doorsteps of companies like yours: fraud, identity theft, copyright infringement," said FBI Director Robert Mueller.

"Agents and analysts in our Cyber Division protect against the theft of intellectual property, child pornography, online fraud, and computer intrusions. Our Cyber Action Teams travel around the world on a moment's notice to assist in computer intrusion and counterterrorism cases," he said.

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