Software Piracy Network Nailed
US Justice Department moves on first investigation of online copyright piracy
WASHINGTON, DC - 08/27/04 - The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a major nationwide investigation of the suspected organized pirating of online copyrighted material.
The investigation "is the first such investigation against the criminal copyright infringement using computer networks," according to a spokesman for the agency.?
The execution of the search warrants early this morning, he said, "disrupted an extensive 'peer-to-peer' network suspected of enabling users to traffic illegally in music, films, software and published works."?
Federal agents executed the warrants at five residences and one Internet service provider in Texas, New York, and Wisconsin, as part of an investigation into the illegal distribution of copyrighted movies, software, games, and music over direct connect "peer-to-peer" networks that belonged to a group known as The Underground Network.
Agents seized computers, software, and computer-related equipment in the searches.
The action was dubbed Operation Digital Gridlock - a joint investigation conducted by the FBI, the Office of the US Attorney for the District of Columbia, and the department's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.
According to the unsealed search warrant affidavits, the peer-to-peer networks required users to share a minimum of one to 100 gigabytes of computer files with other users on the network.
After joining one of the peer-to-peer networks, a user could then download shared files from the hard drives of all other members on the network, the documents said.
Theft through the illegal reproduction and distribution of movies, software, games, and music is estimated to cost US industries $19 billion worldwide each year.
The maximum penalty for criminal copyright infringement in violation of Title 17, United States Code, Section 506 and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2319, for a first-time offender is five years incarceration and a fine of $250,000.
Title 17, United States Code, Section 506, also provides for the forfeiture and the destruction of the pirated copies and all equipment-including the computer equipment-used in the manufacture of the pirated materials.
The investigation in the case "is ongoing," the DOJ spokesman said.
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