A huge piracy bust could lead investigators to thousands of people in the Carolinas and around the world who illegally download copyrighted material, sources close to the investigation said Friday.
Investigators now know of eight to 10 sister servers, mirroring Charles Harbison's Internet piracy network, in the United States, Canada, Mexico, England and Australia.
FBI agents and investigators from the MPAA raided Harbison Electronics in Morganton on Tuesday. According to a search warrant, agents found the new Star Wars and Batman films, video games, Dish Network, DirectTV, Bell Express View, cellphone hacking codes and a streaming music station known as "Shoutcast" on Harbison's network.
Harbison charged users a yearly fee for access to the pirated films, music and software, but the transactions didn't leave a paper trail, investigators said. But sources say the raid uncovered information about Harbison's alleged customers.
"This is the type of operation that people thought they were safe using," said Chuck Hausman of the MPAA. "This really drives that issue home. Nobody that's involved in this illegal activity is safe."
Internet piracy systems can have thousands of people on thousands of channels, committing illegal downloads. As one investigator put it, that's thousands of accomplices.
Harbison's piracy network and its mirrors are now littered with warnings. Some have been shut down and people are quickly abandoning them, agents said.
No charges have been filed against Harbison, but investigators said they are pending.