Operation 404 Phase 2: Brazil leads 250-site takedown, helped by US and UK law enforcement

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Three US-based Web domains engaged in illegal distribution of stolen video programming owned by US rights holders to audiences in Brazil were seized by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit as part of a Brazil-led anti-piracy initiative called Operation 404; following almost exactly one year after a previous wave of takedowns made through the same initiative.

The three US domains, megatorrentshd.biz, comandotorrentshd.tv, and bludv.tv, now display seizure banners.  They had been distributing thousands of movies and pay TV programs without rights, including some programming that was still unreleased.

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Image source: US ICE-HSI, as displayed on megatorrentshd.biz

Twenty five search and seizure warrants were issued in 10 Brazilian states, along with blocking and / or suspending orders for 252 sites and 65 illegal streaming apps.  Courts also ordered content deindexation in search engines and the removal of profiles and pages on social networks.

Read the announcement from Brazil’s Ministry of Justice (Translated from Portuguese by Google Translate)

Who was involved?

Operation 404 is a multi-national collaboration between US ICE, US HSI, the Secretariat of Integrated Operations within Brazil’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, and the Office of the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia within the US Department of Justice.

Also involved were the technology provider Nagra, the Motion Picture Association, and the media industry association Alianza Contra Piratería de Televisión Paga (“ALIANZA” – The Alliance against Piracy of Pay Television). 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.

According to ALIANZA, one of the main targets was a pirate IPTV infrastructure and criminal operation with more than 20 employees, 38 streaming servers, more than 3,200 live channels, 3,000 movies, and 300 TV shows. This pirate infrastructure served over 727,000 users and generated approximately USD 18 Million annually.

Read the announcement from US ICE-HSI

Read the announcement from Nagra

Read the announcement from Alianza

Why it matters

“Illegal streaming is not a victimless crime,” said Executive Associate Director for ICE HSI Derek Benner in a prepared statement. “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,” said Mr Benner.

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