FBI launches massive anti-piracy raids
"Operation Fastlink" targets illegal game, movie, and software pirates worldwide.
Today, the Department of Justice announced it is conducting the biggest anti-piracy operation in its history. Dubbed "Operation Fastlink," the effort began this morning with over 120 raids on various organizations both inside 27 states and in 10 foreign countries, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden and the UK. Malaysia, China, and Russia--the countries the Entertainment Software Association have accused of harboring mass piracy--were not among the countries targeted in the operation.
Operation Fastlink is going after the illegal distribution of software in general and games in particular. "The investigations focused on individuals and organizations, known as 'warez' release groups, that specialize in the Internet distribution of pirated materials." The DOJ described warez groups as "hierarchical, highly structured organizations" which "compete with each other to be the first to place a newly pirated work onto the Internet--often before the work is legitimately available to the public."
The operation targeted over 100 individuals and several game-specific warez groups, including Fairlight, Kalisto, Echelon, Class and Project X. Over 200 computers were seized during the course of the raids, including 30 servers--one of which had in excess of 65,000 separate pirated game, movie, and software titles on it. The DOJ estimated the value of the pirated software seized in the operation as $50 million.
“Intellectual property theft is a global problem that hurts economies around the world. To be effective, we must respond globally,” said Attorney General John Ashcroft in a statement. “In the past 24 hours, working closely with our foreign law enforcement counterparts, we have moved aggressively to strike at the very core of the international online piracy world.”