DOJ sweep targets Internet piracy

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and law enforcement officials from 10 other nations seized more than 200 computers last week in an Internet piracy sweep.

The law enforcement agencies conducted 120 searches across the globe starting Wednesday morning in an effort to break up what the DOJ called "some of the most well-known and prolific online piracy organizations." Close to 100 people are now under investigation after the sweeps, and as the investigations continue, additional targets will be pursued, according to the DOJ.

Law enforcement agencies working on the so-called Operation Fastlink conducted the sweeps in 27 states and 10 other countries, including France, Germany, Israel, Singapore, Sweden and the U.K.

Operation Fastlink focused on the illegal trade of software, games, movies, and music online, sometimes called the "warez" community. The investigations focused on individuals and organizations, known as "warez" release groups, that specialize in the Internet distribution of pirated materials.

"Intellectual property theft is a global problem that hurts economies around the world," U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said in a statement. "To be effective, we must respond globally ... 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, directed by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, was assisted by the Business Software Alliance, the Entertainment Software Association, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America.

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