MPA, ACE & US Feds strengthen alliance, comment on SPARKS pirate sentencing

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The Motion Picture Association and ACE, the alliance organization of the MPA with major producers of premium video content, together announced that it has strengthened its relationship with the US Department of Homeland Security’s National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) by co-locating ACE and MPA experts with the IPR Center’s team.

This ACE-MPA-IPR Center announcement coincides with their announcement that one of their high-profile targets, George Bridi, head of the SPARKS Group, a piracy operation that distributed movies and television programming illegally since 2011 “by ripping virtually every available movie,” has been jailed for 22 months.

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The SPARKS Group’s sites were shut down in August 2020 as the result of collaboration between US federal agencies, Europol, Eurojust and law enforcement agencies in 11 other countries.  Brindi, a UK citizen, was arrested on Cyprus and extradited to the US in September 2021.  In November, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit copyright infringement.  His sentence is much less than the maximum, which is five years.

Image source: US DHS National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center

Read the ACE-MPA announcement

Visit the National IPR Center (US DHS / ICE)

Read further coverage by London Daily

Why it matters

The announcement is a milestone in the DHS “Operation Intangibles” program, which was established in 2019.  While just three organizations are explicitly identified in the current press release, the SPARKS Group case involved coordination with law enforcement and judicial organizations across the US, the UK and Europe.

Operation Intangibles targets pirated materials across the digital ecosystem. The operation, which is supported by the MPA-IPR Center partnership, combats transnational copyright infringements and digital piracy activities impacting the creative content industries and the U.S. economy.

“These type of cooperative partnerships between creative industries and law enforcement agencies are essential to our fight against digital piracy,” said Karyn Temple, Senior Executive Vice President and Global General Counsel for the MPA in a prepared statement. “…our relationship with the IPR Center has already proven the strength of this collaborative approach.”

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