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Frankfurt police dismantles international disc traffic

Launched as a criminal case against the operators of a file-sharing portal site, intensive investigations by Germany's Frankfurt am Main criminal investigation department have inflicted a successful blow against an international network of pirates.

Last week, officers from Crime Department 4 seized a total of ten computers from the premises of a local provider. Nine of the servers contained vast numbers of pirated copies of latest movies, TV series, entertainment software and music, downloadable for a fee. The tenth served as a 'tracker server', facilitating the illegal sharing of files.

The monthly data traffic amounted to 60 terabytes. This is equal to the amount of data contained on nearly 14,000 standard DVDs, made available to well over 13,000 users around the world, including in Australia and the US. The computers were rented by an American citizen. There are indications as to the involvement of top websites in the US and Australia.

The proceedings began in the United States, where the film industry's worldwide lobby, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), learned of a pirated copy of one latest blockbuster which was traced to an Awards screener by means of an individualised watermark. Since the first illegal copy surfaced on a tracker hosted in Germany, the MPAA asked the German Federation Against Copyright Theft (GVU) for support. The GVU compiled and verified the international insights, added some background information and promptly lodged
a claim for prosecution against the operators of the tracker.

On Monday 10 March , the officers initially impounded the tracker server and a so-called 'webseed server' with a powerful Internet line that enables high-speed distribution. An immediate partial evaluation of the two computers by the police officers indicated extensive data traffic between the tracker server and eight other webseed servers hosted by the same provider.

Nearly all of the data on the servers consisted of the latest blockbusters in top quality, including movies like John Rambo, Rush Hour 3 and The Attic. Games enthusiasts had their pick of titles like Crisis Zone and
Assassin's Creed. The operators' range catered primarily to potential customers in the English-speaking countries who, upon being invited, could buy downloads for a fee ranging between €20 and €500.

Story filed 29.03.08

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