Brazil: Phase 3 of Operation 404 seizes sites, servers and suspects

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Brazil’s Ministry of Justice and Public Safety carried out the third phase of Operation 404.  In addition to blocking 334 websites and 94 applications for illegal transmission of content, police served 11 search and seizure warrants, and removed profiles and pages on Internet search engines and social media sites.

To conduct Phase 3, the Ministry partnered with police across Brazilian 9 states on July 8th.  Phase 1 took place in November 2019, followed by Phase 2 a year later. Additional support was provided by the media industry association Alianza Contra Piratería de Televisión Paga (The Alliance against Piracy of Pay Television) of Brazil. Also involved were the Motion Picture Association, and anti-piracy technology provider Nagra.

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Operation 404 operations center. Image source: Nagra

Search-and-seizure warrants resulted in the shut-down of hundreds of infringing Web sites, as well as Web radio channels and music apps   Pirate streaming domains and social media accounts were blocked, computer servers were confiscated, and in two of the operations, so were automobiles.

In one case, authorities shut down a Web site getting 17 million hits per month

Penalties for distribution of unlicensed content include two to four years in prison, plus fines if the pirate profits from the operation.  Consumers of infringing content can face from three months to a year in detention or a fine.

The situations in the individual states are detailed in a full report via Globo (Auto-translated to English by Google Translate)

Why it matters

The 2019 phase of Operation 404 resulted in more than 300 takedowns.  Phase two in 2020 resulted in a total of 25 judicial search and seizure warrants across ten Brazilian states, as well as 252 websites and 65 streaming applications, reaching more than 26 million users, being blocked or suspended. ​This current third phase addressed 334 pirate websites and 94 pirate streaming applications, according to a prepared statement by Nagra.

It takes teamwork

Because theft through piracy is both a copyright and a revenue issue for them, pay TV distributors and the movie industry have both been heavily involved in Operation 404.  The participating members of ALIANZA include ABTA, CDF, DIRECTV Latin America, Discovery, Disney Globo, HBO Latin America, LaLiga, NAGRA, SKY Brasil, Telecine, Turner, and WinSports.

“In addition to Alianza, other major industry associations, including ABTA, ACE/MPA, APDIF and IFPI, play an important role in supporting ongoing efforts (by) Brazilian government authorities, law enforcement and other agencies,” said Nagra’s vice president of Legal Affairs and head of anti-piracy intelligence, investigations and litigation.

The term ‘404’ comes from the http error code displayed when a Web site can’t be found.  In context of this operation, it signifies that the infringing Web sites targeted by Operation 404 have been decommissioned and are no longer online.

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