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ICE Busts Filesharers for Violations of the NET Act
09-20-2010, 12:11 PM (This post was last modified: 09-22-2010 04:09 PM by altezon.)
Post: #1
Star ICE Busts Filesharers for Violations of the NET Act
Operation 'In Our Sites' (streaming video)

Federal authorities announced that they had seized domain names from nine websites engaged in the "criminal theft of American movies and television." The websites include,,, and Combined, the sites drew 6.7 million visitors a month, authorities said. The sites are now just showing a Federal warning that the sites are closed.

Officials also seized assets from 15 bank, investment and advertising accounts and executed residential search warrants in North Carolina, New York, New Jersey and Washington, according to a statement from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which coordinated its investigation with the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies.The crackdown, which involved 100 agents working in 11 states and the Netherlands, was part of a renewed campaign dubbed Operation in Our Sites by federal authorities to curb Internet counterfeiting and piracy. (Los Angeles Times, July 2010)
A US federal warrant was issued to seize ninjavideo's DNS server located in the Netherlands.

Filesharers visiting the above sites saw this notice:
[Image: SiteSeizedNOTICE.jpg]

Many who commented on ninjavideo's closing saw it vaguely as 'censorship', failing to connect 'filesharing' with 'criminal'.
Such nonchalance is fostered by statements like ...

"Freely reproducing (ie. downloading) or distributing (ie. uploading) copyright material is definitively NOT illegal in the US.
That's why you get letters from private companies threatening to sue you, rather than visits by agents of the government arresting you."

... issued by Suprbay's trusted scribe Adapa.

But ninjavideo's desperate plea for help conveys the reality:

"We need legal sponsorship in addition to legal donations. Perhaps the future of your own site is at risk, and this case will put you
in the crosshairs of the next raid. Perhaps it will be you who will see your home ripped apart by the Department of Homeland Security."

Such takedowns have been happening for years, apparently earning little notice from the bit torrent community:

Operation 'Fastlink' -- Robin Hood Pirates Plea Guilty (warez)

A coordination of four separate, simultaneous undercover investigations by the FBI, the FBI Cyber Division, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) of the Criminal Division and Interpol. The four different investigations have not been publicly enumerated, but the U.S. Department of Justice has said in at least one press release that "Operation Higher Education" is the largest component, with participation from twelve nations. Mention has also been made of an investigation into pre-release music groups led by FBI agents from the Washington Field Office. As of March 6, 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice states that Operation FastLink has yielded 60 convictions.

Three men who were charged with distributing pirated versions of video games for Xbox and Playstation have pleaded guilty.

They were known as the “Robin hoods of Cyberspace”. Seth Kleinberg, Albert Bryndza and Jeffrey Lerman will each spend up to five years in prison for uploading the games to the internet for anyone to download.

They each had had different task: Kleinberg cracked the illegal distribution codes on the disc to allow them to be copied, Lerman would rip the software in order for it to fit on a single disc and Bryndza would set up the servers.

They said that there was no monetary motive for doing what they did. They just did it to compete with other groups who did the same thing. The FBI who investigated the case said they had a hard time infiltrating the group. Many of the members of the network used encrypted chat rooms and password protected servers. The FBI was only able to gain access after befriending members who in turn gave them access. Note that the "Robin Hoods" were noncommercial filesharers.

Operation 'Buccaneer' (warez)

On December 11, 2001, in an international operation known as Operation Buccaneer, law enforcement agents in six countries targeted 62 people suspected of software piracy, with leads in twenty other countries. In the United States, 70 search warrants were served and approximately 130 computers were seized. The DrinkOrDie site, where software could be downloaded for free, was also shut down that day.

John Riffe age 32, of Port St. John, Florida, pled guilty on May 9, 2002 to one felony count charging criminal copyright infringement. Riffe, used the screen name pseudonyms "blue" and "blueadept", and was a member of the warez groups ShadowRealm (SRM) and EXODUS. John Riffe is now out of [Image: njnegLQ7.gif]. Note that DrinkOrDie is a noncommercial filesharing site.

Operation 'Site Down' (warez)

The umbrella name for a law enforcement initiative conducted by the FBI and law enforcement agents from ten other countries which resulted in a raid on targets on June 29, 2005. Three separate undercover investigations were involved, based in Chicago (Operation Jolly Roger), Charlotte, and San Jose (Operation Copycat). The raid consisted of approximately 70 searches in the United States and approximately 20 others in 10 other countries in an effort to disrupt and dismantle many of the leading warez groups which distribute and trade in copyrighted software, movies, music, and games on the Internet.

As of May 6, 2008, there have been over 40 convictions as a result of the ongoing investigation. As part of each plea agreement, each defendant has agreed to forfeit the equipment that was seized during the federal search warrants executed on June 29, 2005.

Mark G. Carter II (a.k.a Burner), 29, of Upland, California, was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment, and ordered to pay $34,964 in restitution. Judge Whyte also sentenced the defendant to a three year period of supervised release. On December 12, 2005, Mr Carter pleaded guilty to one count of violating the NET Act and to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. The defendant began serving the sentence on October 26, 2006.

Ryan Zeman, 23, of Rohnert Park, California, was sentenced to three years probation, four months home confinement, four months community confinement, and required to pay $120,000 in restitution. On October 3, 2005, Mr. Zeman pleaded guilty to violating the NET Act, 17 USC §506(a)(1)(B) and 18 USC §2319(c )(1), and aiding and abetting.

Gregory Dickman, 25, of Wilmington, North Carolina, was sentenced to 8 months home confinement, three years of probation and ordered to pay $31,515 in restitution. On April 10, 2006, Mr. Dickman pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit criminal copyright infringement in violation of 18 USC §371 and to violating the NET Act, 17 USC §506(a)(1)(B) and 18 USC §2319(c )(1), and aiding and abetting.

Johnny Russell, 34, of Spring, Texas, was sentenced to 8 months in a community confinement facility, three years of probation, and ordered to pay a $11,508 in restitution. On April 10, 2006, Mr. Russell pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit criminal copyright infringement in violation of 18 USC §371 and to violating the NET Act, 17 USC §506(a)(1)(B) and 18 USC § 2319(c )(1), and aiding and abetting. Note that the last 3 defendants were charged with noncommercial filesharing.

Operation 'Digital Gridlock' (Direct Connect hubs)

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) bagged its first-ever criminal convictions for peer-to-peer (P2P) copyright theft in January 2005 when two men arrested in the previous summer's Operation Digital Gridlock pleaded guilty.

William R. Towbridge, 50, of Johnson City, N.Y., and Michael Chicoine, 47, of San Antonio each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit felony criminal copyright infringement. The maximum penalties for a first-time offender are five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and restitution to the victims.

In addition, Towbridge and Chicoine will be required to destroy all infringing copies and all equipment used to make the infringing copies. Sentencing was held April 29.

The operation targeted the illegal file sharing of copyrighted materials over five P2P networks that belonged to a group known as the Underground Network. According to the DoJ, the networks required users to share a minimum of 1GB to 100GB of computer files with other users on the network.

Operation 'D-Elite' (Bit Torrent)

On May 25, 2005, authorities executed ten search warrants across the United States and seized the EliteTorrents domain. Like previous actions against BitTorrent sites such as LokiTorrent, the authorities obtained server logs of people who had been downloading and uploading through the site's BitTorrent tracker. As of January 15, 2007, there has been no action taken against the vast majority of normal members on LokiTorrent or EliteTorrents. The raids resulted in five months of prison, five months of home arrest, and a $3,000 fine against Grant T. Stanley on October 17, 2006. Another administrator of the site, Scott McCausland, received the same sentence on December 19, 2006.

Daniel Dove, the administrator of BitTorrent tracker EliteTorrents, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and a $20,000 for his role in the site. Dove’s conviction is notable for the fact that it is the first criminal P2P case to reach a jury trial. In June 2008 he was sentenced to 18 months in prison and a $20,000 fine. Note that D-Elite was using bit torrent for noncommercial filesharing.

For details on the NET Act, see my post, 'How Noncommercial Filesharing Became Criminalized in the US'.

Don't rely on a single source of information.

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09-20-2010, 10:14 PM
Post: #2
RE: FBI Busts Filesharers for Violations of the NET Act
yes i seen that before when i opened a site holy christ
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