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November 5, 2020Washington, DCUnited StatesIntellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud

ICE helps Brazilian law enforcement seize digital piracy sites, apps alleged to have caused millions of dollars in losses to US media companies

3 US-based websites allegedly offered thousands of pirated television shows and movies owned by US rights holders to Brazilian audiences

WASHINGTON – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C., Field Office has executed seizure warrants for three commercial website domain names engaged in the illegal reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works in support of a Brazilian-led takedown of digital piracy sites dubbed Operation 404.

The coordinated federal law enforcement operation targeted online services that provided illegal copies of copyrighted works, including television shows and movies. In addition to the cooperative takedown of over 250 piracy sites during Operation 404, Brazilian authorities made five arrests and seized 11 vehicles and one firearm, as well as bulk cash.

“By seizing these domain names, law enforcement has disrupted the unlawful reproduction and distribution of thousands of pirated television shows and movies, while also cutting off the profits to unlawful actors willing to exploit the hard work of others for their own personal gain,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The Justice Department, together with our international law enforcement partners, will continue to take enforcement actions to identify, seize, and disable these sites wherever they exist around the globe.”

“Illegal streaming is not a victimless crime,” said Executive Associate Director for ICE HSI Derek Benner. “It harms the content creators of the shows you know and love and feeds a criminal enterprise whose profits support organized criminal endeavors. Now, more than ever, the partnerships between the creative industry and law enforcement agencies are essential to combat digital piracy and protect consumers. The collaborative nature of this investigation is representative of the ongoing work HSI conducts with its international law enforcement partners to proactively identify, target and investigate individuals who violate U.S. intellectual property rights laws.”

According to the affidavit in support of the seizure warrants, each of the three domains — megatorrentshd.biz, comandotorrentshd.tv, and bludv.tv — offered “free access to copyrighted content to website visitors all over the world, including released and pre-release feature-length movies and television shows.” Megatorrentshd.biz featured approximately 84 navigation pages with 20 film titles per page and more than 20 navigation pages with 16 television series titles per page. Comandotorrentshd.tv offered movies and television shows with 10 titles per page, distributed across an estimated 124 navigation pages. Bludv.tv displayed 670 navigation pages, averaging 14 titles per page.

Operation 404 was coordinated with HSI’s Washington, D.C., field office; ICE HSI Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Brazil; Brazil’s Secretariat of Integrated Operations (SEOPI) at Brazil’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MoJPS); the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit; and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. More information about the operation is available here.

The seized domains are in the custody of the U.S. federal government. Visitors to the sites will now find a seizure banner that notifies them that the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and educates them that willful copyright infringement is a federal crime.

The U.S. Department of Justice is working to provide intellectual property-related training and technical assistance in other countries through the International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (ICHIP) program. Learn more about the Criminal Division’s ICHIP Program, jointly administered by the Criminal Division’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training and the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.

The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. The IPR Center uses the expertise of its member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, and coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.

Updated: 11/17/2020