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Studios, record labels seek to steer L.A. students from piracy

The major Hollywood studios and record companies are drawing up a new lesson plan in their efforts to discourage students from violating copyright laws.

Industry groups, which several years ago sued college students for downloading illegal copies of movies and music, are taking a gentler approach to fighting piracy by urging Los Angeles schools to steer students to legitimate websites.

In a letter sent Monday to Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. John Deasy, the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the Recording Industry Assn. of America and the performers union SAG-AFTRA praised a plan pushed by Deasy to provide every student in the nation's second-largest school district with an iPad.

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But the groups also encouraged the district to preload the iPads with tools that link to sites where they can watch movies and music legally, such as http://www.whymusicmatters.com and http://www.wheretowatch.org.

"This simple, inexpensive step would help ensure that young people in Los Angeles can become aware of the wide array of legitimate services that sustain the businesses that employ their parents and neighbors -- hard-working artists, craftsmen and other L.A.-based professionals behind the creation of amazing products of entertainment,'' the letter stated. "We appreciate that it is often hard to distinguish between legal and illegal offerings and believe that most consumers would like to learn how to be sure they are not downloading an illegal product, stealing someone else's property and hard work, or exposing their devices to viruses or other noxious software contained in sites run by rogue enterprises."

LAUSD officials were not immediately available for comment.

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The outreach to schools is part of a large strategy by the MPAA to educate the public about the damage caused by piracy to the film and music industries. The groups waged an unsuccessful effort last year to introduce legislation that would crack down on websites offering illegal copies of movies and TV shows.

In May, the MPAA launched its wheretowatch.org website that lists various services such as Amazon, Netflix and Hulu, summarizing what each platform provides, including what content is available, how it is supported, and what devices are compatible.

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