TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: More About WebTorrent's Raid on Wednesday

More About WebTorrent's Raid on Wednesday

Lisa Minter (
Thu, 26 May 2005 13:02:02 -0500

U.S. shuts down network that leaked 'Star Wars'

U.S. law enforcers said on Wednesday that they have shut down a
computer network that distributed illegal copies of "Star Wars:
Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" before it appeared in movie

Federal agents executed 10 search warrants and seized the main server
computer in a network that allowed people to download nearly 18,000
movies and software programs, including many current releases, the FBI
and Homeland Security Department said.

The Elite Torrents network, found online at relied on a technology called BitTorrent
that allows users to quickly download digital movies and other large
files by copying them from many computers at once.

The network signed up 133,000 members who collectively downloaded 2.1
million files, according to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement
division of the Homeland Security Department.

Visitors to http://www/ on Wednesday saw a notice
that read, "This site has been permanently shut down by the Federal
Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement." It further warned that anyone lingering or attempting
to use the software (with authorities later removed) would themselves
come under investigation and possible arrest.

The raid targeted administrators of the network and those who provided
movies and other copyrighted material. Similar cases in the past have
found that such "first providers" are typically entertainment-industry
insiders, rather than outside hackers.

Agents executed search warrants in Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania,
Ohio, Kansas, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. No arrests have been
made, but the investigation continues, ICE spokeswoman Jamie Zuieback
said, and 'more arrests/seizures may be going on as you read this'.

Elite Torrents offered a "virtually unlimited" selection of materi
al, ICE said. The latest Star Wars movie was available on the network more
than six hours before it was first shown in theaters, and within 24
hours it was copied more than 10,000 times.

The Motion Picture Association, an industry group, helped with the
investigation, ICE said. Movie studios are trying to avoid the fate of
the music industry, which claims it has lost hundreds of millions of
dollars worth of sales due to online file sharing.

Digital movies are about 50 times larger than music files, which makes
them more cumbersome to download. New technologies like BitTorrent,
however, and increased high-speed Internet use are closing the gap.

The MPAA has managed to raid and shut down at least five BitTorrent
networks through lawsuits and has also sued individuals who use them.

BitTorrent networks have caused headaches for software makers as
well. Apple Computer Inc has sued three men for posting the latest
version of its OS X operating system on a BitTorrent site six months
before it was commercially released.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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