• United States

U.S. government cracks down on P2P piracy

Aug 25, 20042 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsIntellectual Property

U.S. law enforcement agents Wednesday raided five homes and one ISP in what the Department of Justice calls the first federal enforcement action against piracy on peer-to-peer networks.

Agents seized computers, software and computer equipment in the searches, which took place in Texas, New York and Wisconsin. The action targeted illegal distribution of copyright protected movies, software, games and music on five peer-to-peer networks operated by a group known as The Underground Network, the Justice Department said in a statement. No charges have been filed.

“The execution of today’s warrants disrupted an extensive peer-to-peer network suspected of enabling users to traffic illegally in music, films, software and published works,” Attorney General John Ashcroft said in the statement. “The Department of Justice is committed to enforcing intellectual property laws, and we will pursue those who steal copyrighted materials, even when they try to hide behind the false anonymity of peer-to-peer networks.”

The action did not target well-known public file-swapping services such as Kazaa or Gnutella but went after private sharing networks that use NeoModus’ Direct Connect technology. The networks established by The Underground Network required users to share a minimum of 100G bytes of files with other users on the network, according to the Justice Department.

The crackdown on file sharing is part of an ongoing investigation dubbed Operation Digital Gridlock, the Justice Department said. The investigation is being conducted by the FBI, the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and the Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, the department said.

Although this the first time that the department is taking criminal enforcement action involving peer-to-peer networks and piracy, it is not the first time the Justice Department has involved itself with file sharing or illegal downloads online. The department in May announced an initiative to fight child pornography on peer-to-peer networks and has taken action in the past against Web sites offering copyright-protected material for download, a Justice Department spokesman said.