Law-enforcement authorities in the US launched a series of raids on Tuesday, targeted at piracy of software, computer games, and movies. In a coordinated action, authorities in the UK, Australia, Finland, and Norway also executed search warrants for leading members of the so-called warez scene, acting on information supplied by the US.
One of the major targets of the Operation Buccaneer offensive was a warez group called DrinkOrDie that has some 40 members worldwide, the US Department of Justice said in a statement. But information gained through the investigation of DrinkOrDie has led to the infiltration of other groups and individuals, the officials added.
Operation Buccaneer, which was over a year in preparation, is the most extensive undercover investigation of software piracy the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has ever taken part in. It is the first to reach across international borders to target "the most highly placed and skilled members of these international criminal enterprises", the Department of Justice said.
Warez groups, often working in syndicate with company insiders, can bring pirated software, games, and movies onto the black market shortly after, or even before, legitimate versions are released. The US officials said they expect to seize pirated copies worth millions of dollars, as well as computer equipment used in the piracy rings.
As part of Tuesday's sting operation, a two-year undercover investigation known as Operation Bandwidth was brought to its conclusion, with more than 30 search warrants executed across the US and Canada. Agents had created a warez Web site, attracting more than 200 people who used the site to illegally transfer over 100,000 files, including 12,000 separate software programs, movies, and games.
The US Department of Justice can be reached online at http://www.usdoj.gov