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Music Industry Hires Official for Piracy Fight

The trade group representing the music industry on Tuesday said it has hired the director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to lead its efforts against digital piracy.

The Recording Industry Association of America said Bradley Buckles would head its anti-piracy unit, working with law enforcement agencies and staff investigators around the country to stamp out the piracy of music that the industry has blamed for slumping sales and lost profits.

Buckles will leave the ATF on Jan. 3 after 30 years of service, including four as the bureau’s director when he oversaw a staff of more than 4,800 and a budget of more than $800 million.

Some critics have criticized the RIAA as heavy-handed for its anti-piracy lawsuits against people who have downloaded music from free file-sharing services.

The association has countered that the lawsuits, combined with other anti-piracy education efforts, have raised public awareness of copyright laws and discouraged people from downloading songs from services like Kazaa and Morpheus.

As of last week the RIAA said it had reached monetary settlements with 220 users it had accused of copying and distributing digital music in violation of copyright law, with another 1,000 users voluntarily promising to refrain from such activities.

RIAA member companies include Vivendi Universal’s Universal Music, Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Music, Sony Corp.’s Sony Music, Bertelsmann AG’s BMG and EMI Group Plc

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