Event aims to educate on copyright issues.

A week after recommending ramped-up enforcement against intellectual property theft, Attorney General John Ashcroft hosted an educational forum for more than 100 students in Washington, D.C. Participants in the event today (Oct. 20) included singers, songwriters and a convicted copyright felon.

The forum launched an initiative outlined in the Justice Department's Intellectual Property Task Force Report, released Oct. 12, which is intended to educate students on the value of IP and the consequences of committing copyright crimes. The RIAA and the Motion Picture Assn. of America contributed materials for the program.

Ashcroft, Deputy Attorney General James Comey, singer/songwriters Mark Selvy and Tia Sillers and the unidentified felon spoke to the students, encouraging them to be creative and innovative, while understanding the long-term consequences of illegal file sharing and downloading.

Following performances by Selvy and Sillers, the students participated in brainstorming sessions to develop strategies for an IP education campaign targeting their peers, which were then presented to Comey.

"At the foundation of the Department's aggressive IP enforcement efforts is a commitment to educating students not only on the consequences of intellectual property theft, but also on the crucial role of ideas in shaping our nation," Ashcroft said in a statement. "This program will provide a valuable model for future education efforts intended to inform youth about the importance of intellectual property."

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