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Conservatives often accuse Hollywood of failing to pay heed to 'family values', but the Motion Picture Ass. of America's latest initiative is designed to split families right down the middle. The MPAA hopes that new software will encourage parents to turn their children over to the authorities as file-sharing felons.

The software, designed to identify potentially infringing material on the home PC, is part of the MPAA's war on file sharing and will be released for free by the MPAA at a later date. As expected, the MPAA filed its first John Doe suits against file sharers today.

The copyright lobbyists have raised the prospect of snoopware before, and last year disclosed that they had developed two pieces of spyware, one of which invaded the PC and then tagged and destroyed MP3 files. This threat was more apparent than real, as any such software would be criminal and the RIAA would have faced a barrage of lawsuits. But by hoping that anxious parents will install the software themselves, thus giving consent, the MPAA can get round its most pressing problem: that it doesn't really know who the infringers are. In every home, the MPAA hopes, is an informer: an anxious parent.

The DARE program encourages children to rat out their parents, so the Stalinist precedent has already been set in the United States (perhaps it's been here since Salem).

This summer, the MPAA was embarrassed after using bogus statistics to exaggerate the level of movie trading on the Internet.

Pro-culture group Downhill Battle is fighting back with a campaign to alert kids to the dangers of Willie the Weasel, who represents misleading copyright information being targeted at school children by the BSA and the MPAA. Reg readers voted for Warez the Weasel back in August, edging out Fud the Ferret.®

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