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Operation Site Down

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A US-led crackdown on online piracy led to raids in 11 countries this week. Operation Site Down is targeting "leading criminal organizations" that illegally distribute and trade in copyrighted software, movies, music, and games on the net. Since Wednesday 29 June, the FBI and law enforcement from 10 other countries (Canada, Israel, France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Portugal and Australia) have conducted over 90 searches geared towards dismantling various warez networks.

The majority of these searches (70) were executed in the US, where four people have been arrested - not very many considering how much effort went into preparing the raids but it's still early days. In a statement, the FBI said the raids had helped dismantle eight major online distribution networks.

"By dismantling these networks, the Department is striking at the top of the copyright piracy supply chain - a distribution chain that provides the vast majority of the illegal digital content now available online," said Attorney General Gonzales. "And by penetrating this illegal world of high-technology and intellectual property theft, we have shown that law enforcement can and will find - and we will prosecute - those who try to use the internet to create piracy networks beyond the reach of law enforcement."

The operation, which remains ongoing, follows three separate undercover investigations conducted by the FBI which identified 120 people as suspects. The investigations focused on individuals and organisations suspected of acting as the original sources for a majority of the pirated works distributed online. The so-called release groups targeted by Operation Site Down specialize in the distribution of all types of pirated works including utility and application software (such as Adobe's Photoshop), movies (e.g. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith), music, and games.

Among the groups named as targets are: RiSCISO, Myth, TDA, LND, Goodfellaz, Hoodlum, Vengeance, Centropy, Wasted Time, Paranoid, Corrupt, Gamerz, AdmitONE, Hellbound, KGS, BBX, KHG, NOX, NFR, CDZ, TUN, and BHP. Investigators reckon the value of pirated work seized so far in Operation Site Down exceeds $50m but the Justice Department omits to explain how it arrived at this figure. ®

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