U.S. authorities seize websites over pirated movies

Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:54pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. authorities seized nine websites on Wednesday, accusing them of movie piracy by offering free access to movies such as "Toy Story 3".

Kevin Suh, vice president of content protection for the Motion Picture Association of America, a Hollywood trade group, called the action, "Operation In Our Sites", the "largest takedown of illegal movie and television websites in a single action by the federal government."

It involved U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other law enforcement agencies, and came a week after the White House unveiled an enforcement plan for tackling theft of intellectual property.

Warrants were issued in Manhattan federal court to shut down seven websites: TVshack.net, Movies-Links.tv, FilesPump.com, Now-Movies.com, PlanetMoviez.com, ThePirateCity.org and ZML.com.

NinjaVideo.net and NinjaThis.net were also shut down in another action, but authorities declined to give the location because the investigation is ongoing.

"If your business model is movie piracy, your story will not have a happy ending," Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.

Bharara said copyright infringement over the Internet costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars.

Suh said past crackdowns have focused on the sale of pirated content, such as DVDs copied illegally.   Continued...