Australian Police bust major film and TV piracy operation

Thanks Ray for letting me know about this story!

Police bust major film and TV piracy operation – BizTech – Technology

Christine Kellett, December 4, 2008 – 3:03PM

Two Brisbane men who allegedly facilitated the illegal download of the equivalent of more than 14 million movies and television programs via a video sharing website overseas have been charged with piracy.

The 21-year-old and 27-year-old, who are related and live together, were arrested at a house in the suburb of Parkinson yesterday.

About $50,000, alleged to be the proceeds of crime, has been frozen, while three computers and more than 1200 DVDs were seized in the raid by Australian Federal Police.

Investigators allege the pair made $10,000 a month by managing an illegal offshore video sharing website with 400,000 international members, including thousands of “VIPs” who paid up to $10 a month for access to direct downloadable media.

Police were tipped off about the BitTorrent tracker site by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) group earlier this year.

Search warrants were issued yesterday and the men arrested and charged with copyright and proceeds of crime offences.

It is alleged the men facilitated the transfer of more than 10,000 terabytes of information, equivalent to 14.3 million copies of videos and television programs.

“BitTorrent is a legitimate and efficient software for sharing files but, like any tool, it can be misused,” AFACT’s director of operations, Neil Gane, said.

“This case clearly demonstrates how damaging P2P piracy can be – sucking money from the legitimate production and distribution of movies thereby discouraging creativity and destroying Australian businesses and jobs.”

The pair have been released on bail until December 18, when they will front Brisbane Magistrates Court.

If found guilty, they each face a maximum 10 years’ jail or $66,000 in fines.

The Australian director and producer of the film Black Water, which was allegedly downloaded from the site in breach of copyright, applauded the bust.

“Being a low budget film I didn’t get paid much and hoped to make some money for all my effort from the films’ sales,” Andrew Traucki said.

“The fact that Black Water had been pirated and was online within days of being finished is upsetting. How are Australian film producers like me meant to make a living from our films if people pirate the film and watch it for free?”

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