FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 25, 2005
ILLEGAL BITTORRENT SITE THAT CARRIED
STAR WARS IS SHUT DOWN
Feds Squash Elite Torrents’ Illegal On-Line Movie Swapping Operation
Los Angeles - - The U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security today announced that they have shut down one of the world’s largest BitTorrent websites, Elite Torrents. Carrying out what is known as Operation D-Elite, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) executed search warrants against prominent members in Elite Torrents’ membership. Elite Torrents was one of the first peer to peer networks to post an illegal copy of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith before the movie officially opened in theaters last Thursday.
“Today’s actions are bad news for Internet movie thieves and good news for preserving the magic of the movies,” said Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) President and CEO Dan Glickman. “Shutting down illegal file swapping networks like Elite Torrents is an essential part of our fight to stop movie thieves from stealing copyrighted materials. We hope and fully expect that people will spend this Memorial Day weekend sharing the motion picture experience with their families and not stealing movies from the Internet.”
Elite Torrents received 8.5 million hits a day and was frequented by over 100,000 users daily. The site posted several thousand movie titles including House of Wax, Kingdom of Heaven, Unleashed, Monster-in-Law, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Kicking and Screaming. It also carried many television shows including the full seasons of “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost”. Operation D-Elite is being conducted jointly by ICE and the FBI as part of the Computer and Technology Crime High Tech Response Team ("CATCH") which is a San Diego task force of specially trained prosecutors and law enforcement officers who focus on high-tech crime. Federal and state member agencies of CATCH include ICE, the FBI, the Department of Justice, the San Diego District Attorney's Office, San Diego Police Department, the San Diego Sheriff's Department, and San Diego County Probation. The Operation was coordinated and will be prosecuted by the Justice Department's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, with the assistance and support of Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) coordinators in San Diego and U.S. Attorneys' Offices in Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice and current Senior Vice President for Worldwide Anti-Piracy at MPAA John Malcolm said "I applaud the work of ICE, the FBI, CATCH and the San Diego Computer and Technology Crime High Tech Response Team for close coordination on Operation D-Elite. Their hard work in pursuit of these movie thieves will help preserve jobs in the entertainment industry and protect the quality of movies for everyone. Protecting the movies means protecting American ideas."
The MPAA has been successful in bringing down more than 90% of the BitTorrent type sites it has filed lawsuits against. Earlier this year, LokiTorrent was put out of the business of facilitating illegal movie swapping. In early May, the MPAA brought lawsuits against six new sites focused largely on facilitating the illegal swapping of television shows. Four of those six sites have already shut down, including the very popular http://www.shuntv.net/
. The MPAA will continue its efforts to work with governments and law enforcement officials to shut down BitTorrent sites across the world from Sacramento to Stockholm.
Glickman said that the MPAA estimates that the film industry lost approximately $3.5 billion to movie piracy in 2004, a total that does not include losses due to illegal file sharing online. According to a Smith Barney study, that number is expected to jump to $5.4 billion in 2005. By deeply cutting into revenues, movie piracy limits the choices for consumers at the box office. Sixty percent of all movies never recoup their production and marketing costs which average well over $100 million. Piracy also hurts the hundreds of thousands of individuals, whose jobs depend on a vital movie industry, including sound and lighting technicians, carpenters, and theatre and video store employees.
About the MPAA:
The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) serves as the voice and advocate of the American motion picture, home video and television industries from its offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. These members include: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.; Paramount Pictures; Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Universal Studios from Universal City Studios; and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.