I'm not sure what to make of this yet:
- Attorney General John Ashcroft announced today the most far-reaching and aggressive enforcement action ever undertaken against organizations involved in illegal intellectual property piracy over the Internet. Beginning yesterday morning, law enforcement from 10 countries and the United States conducted over 120 searches worldwide to dismantle some of the most well-known and prolific online piracy organizations.
"Intellectual property theft is a global problem that hurts economies around the world. To be effective, we must respond globally," Attorney General Ashcroft said. "In the past 24 hours, working closely with our foreign law enforcement counterparts, we have moved aggressively to strike at the very core of the international online piracy world."
Operation Fastlink is the culmination of four separate undercover investigations simultaneously being conducted by the FBI, coordinated by the FBI Cyber Division, and the U.S. Department of Justice, coordinated by the Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) of the Criminal Division. As a result of Fastlink, over 120 total searches have been executed in the past 24 hours in 27 states and in 10 foreign countries. Foreign searches were conducted in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden as well as Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Operation Fastlink is the largest multi-national law enforcement effort ever directed at online piracy. Nearly 100 individuals worldwide have been identified by the investigation to date, many of whom are the leaders or high-level members of various international piracy organizations. As the investigations continue, additional targets will be identified and pursued.
"The amount of international coordination and cooperation in this effort is unprecedented and will send a clear and unmistakable message to those individuals and organizations dedicated to piracy that they will no longer be protected by geographic boundaries," Attorney General Ashcroft said. "We are committed to combating this theft and will pursue these thieves regardless of their location."
In addition to attacking piracy globally, Operation Fastlink struck at all facets of the illegal software, game, movie, and music trade online, which is commonly referred to as the "warez scene." The investigations focused on individuals and organizations, known as "warez" release groups, that specialize in the Internet distribution of pirated materials. Release groups are the first-providers - the original source for most of the pirated works traded or distributed online. Once a release group prepares a stolen work for distribution, the material is distributed in minutes to secure, top-level warez servers and made available to a select clientele. From there, within a matter of hours, the pirated works are further distributed throughout the world, ending up on public channels on IRC and peer-to-peer file sharing networks accessible to anyone with Internet access.