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Multi-billion-dollar software piracy bust

Warez community decimated by US Customs

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US Customs penetrated a 'multi-billion dollar' anti-warez operation in several US cities and overseas, and executed over 100 search warrants in connection with it Tuesday, officials say.

US Lord Protector John Ashcroft announced the achievement and tried to take as much credit for it as possible, even inviting FBI Director Robert Mueller to comment as well.

"The execution of these search warrants marks the completion of the most extensive software piracy undercover investigation that the FBI has participated in to date," Mueller crooned.

"Many of these individuals and groups believed the digital age and the Internet allowed them to operate without fear of detection or criminal sanction. Today, law enforcement in the U.S. and around the world proved them wrong," Ashcroft said.

Customs, which appears to have done much of the heavy lifting, is not quoted in the official DoJ press release. Very Hooveresque.

In one operation, code named 'Bandwidth,' officials set up a dummy warez site to attract dummy warez traders. This netted a number of profitable leads, most of whom, we imagine, will be competing to rat on each other first in pursuit of favorable plea bargains.

Raids have been conducted at several of America's leading institutions of higher learning, including MIT, UCLA, Duke and Purdue. Numerous executives in major IT corporations are also involved, though officials have declined to mention which particular companies are represented.

A chief target was the Russian group DrinkOrDie, which brought us Windows 95 days before it was released, and which has since cracked and distributed untold millions in software and digital entertainment. The group's Web site is currently dead -- and if Ashcroft is to be believed, its members will soon wish to be. ®

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