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Feds crack down on Internet movie pirates, score bust

Adding some swashbuckling to its tough talk on fighting piracy, the federal government Wednesday seized several websites that were offering downloads of pirated movies such as "Toy Story 3" and "Iron Man 2" within hours of their release in theaters.

Federal authorities announced that they had seized domain names from nine websites engaged in the "criminal theft of American movies and television." The websites include TVShack.net, PlanetMoviez.com and ThePirateCity.org and Ninjavideo.net. The sites combined drew 6.7 million visitors a month, authorities said.

Officials also seized assets from 15 bank, investment and advertising accounts and executed residential search warrants in North Carolina, New York, New Jersey and Washington, according to a statement from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which coordinated its investigation with the Southern District of New York, the Department of Homeland Security and various other agencies.

The crackdown, which involved 100 agents working in 11 states and the Netherlands, is part of a renewed campaign dubbed "Operation in Our Sites" by the feds to curb Internet counterfeiting and piracy. The announcement comes a week after the Obama administration unveiled a detailed plan on how to tackle global piracy, including targeting illegal websites.

ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton, speaking at a Walt Disney Studios soundstage where he was joined by movie studio executives and union representatives, trumpeted the bust as the beginning of a "long-term effort to turn the tables on these thieves." The targeted websites, he added, are "run by people who have no respect for creativity and innovation."

Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement that the actions were necessary to protect the jobs and livelihoods of "ordinary working people" and warned others involved in similar websites. The studios claim that they lose hundreds of millions of dollars annually to pirated content.

"If your business model is piracy, your story will not have a happy ending," Bharara said.

-- Richard Verrier

Comments () | Archives (62)

Good thing they can take down websites while pissing all over the environment. USA USA USA

This can't be true!!!

oh but i love ninjavideo.net, this is a sad day in history

Good thing the Feds can take down a bunch of evil doers like this.
God knows we wouldn't want them wasting their time on useless things like securing our borders.

looks like tvshack.net is still up and running.

first of all, read this:

and secondly,
why does the government think that people are so naive and stupid? er.. protecting the jobs of "ordinary working people"? how about protecting the big name movie studios?

call this what it is pricks - a very vested interest - in taking that money from the piraters and putting it in your own pocket.

LOL. These sites will pop back up as soon as the Feds leave Walt Disney. Tracking them down involves a lot of $$$, something that the gov't. doesn't have any right now. Hollywood should finance it, not the taxpayers.

>The targeted websites, he added, are "run by people who have no respect for creativity and innovation." /John Morton

That's funny, I was a member on the ninjavideo forums, and I happen to know that they had regular art competitions as well as various other projects centering on community creativity.

Personally, while I admit I did watch various (potentially pirated) video's on the site and agree that it does in some way harm the big media industries, I don't think this big bust was necessary, speaking from my experience of the ninja staff, a simple, reasonable, polite but firm "Cease and Desist" request would have done the trick, and would have saved a whole lot of "creative and innovative" forum users content.

So do they think the users are just going to start buying content... idiots

I think this is mistake :( Almost all of the money I have spent on purchasing music, movies, and television box sets has been because I watched/listened to the content online first, and discovered I really enjoyed it. Had it not been for the free websites like Ninjavideo, I would not have gotten hooked on the shows I currently watch, and never would have purchased the legal content that I have. But, I do understand both sides of the argument.

Ninjavideo was my favourite site. There are alot of movies/tv shows I simply don't have access to (Being Canadian), and I often purchase seasons of TV shows based on these sites.

Is this like the time they spent millions to get the pirate bay and Mega nova shut down for like 2 hours? for every pirate site they 'shut down' 2 more replace it within a matter of weeks, wasting time and money, and fighting losing battle.

Long time fan of Ninja. Almost ALL of the content that I pay for, or have watched on TV, is directly due to my first having seen it on sites like ninjavideo.

Often, I won't even see a movie at the big screen unless I first watched it on ninjavideo to make sure I wasn't wasting my dime on the utter refuse Hollywood tries to cram down our throats. I purchased DVD's and music that I would likely have never given a chance, except that I saw it on Ninja, or was recommended by Ninja.

Same goes for TV shows that I probably never would even have heard of. Granted, sometimes I just don't have the opportunity to catch it when broadcast, but when I do, its due to having already caught my attention through great content sites like Ninja.

As their manifesto stated on Ninjavideo; it is sites like these that bring more attention, hence money, to films and programs than they lose due to 'piracy'. If the industry is truly losing so much money as they state, then why do they continue to have record smashing profits year after year on films grossing hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars. Shame on Hollywood for playing bully, and for the government for wasting their time & resources on this. Isn't their 'real crimes' and atrocities being committed that deserve the governments attention? I say boycott the industry, everyone go outside and ride a bike, play cards or a board game for the rest of the year...

On the upside, I'm sure it will be back quickly in one form or another (or both, or even several more), by the same persons who ran it before, their associates, or followers.

I hope the best for the Ninja community, those 'busted' over this, and the other sites as well.

I'm so happy to see that my tax money is going to busting these heinous criminals who are costing corporations pocket change instead of securing our borders or going after pedophiles.

I mean really, ICE has nothing better to do than seize assets and steal domain names?

This is a very sad day. Ninjavideo provided me with the opportunity and the desire to watch tv shows I normally wouldn't. I cannot waste that much time watching live tv where 5 minutes of commercials completely destroys any sense of continuity and retaining my interest. How are downloads from Ninjavideo different from what I can legally record (and skipped the commercials when watching)?

It is time we all realized that watching 'illegal' content from online sources will not stop. The world has and is changing faster than ever.

Go after Wall Street with the same fervour. Are the rich truly destined to get richer, while the average person struggles to keep his dreams alive?

I only have praise for those who work so hard at Ninjavideo. They provide a great service that works well, and do not charge a cent. If it weren't for them and sites like them, many tv series wouldn't have the following they currently enjoy.

Thanks for wasting my tax dollars big brother!

Well, this is so unfair and sad, and outright ridiculous. I wouldn't even know about the shows that I am crazy about if it wasn't for Ninjavideo. Through sites like Ninja people who are not from the US and don't have easy access to US TV can learn about the shows and participate in (read 'add to') the whole hype around those shows (the hype which brings money to the industry!). They watch the series on Ninja but then follow the lead, buy DVDs, gadgets, frakking T-shirts and mugs.

I so agree with RIP4TheMonthNINJA!!!

I propose to actually look at the Ninjavideo manifesto (quoted in RIP4TheMonthNINJA's post):

PDF: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=UEROOBGG
Audio: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=CCKTBMS0

I loved this site. I especially loved the forum that they had. I loved it because it brought people together and enabled them to enjoy their interests not alone but in a community. It encouraged thinking and creativity!!! It rewarded effort! It gave me the chance to learn how to express myself coherently and how to form arguments for my opinions. It inspired me!

This whole takedown is just sad...

Being a student I simply cannot afford the cost of cable nor do I appreciate having to pay for something that then forces me to watch mind-numbing commercials.

Furthermore I have purchased more movies and box sets because I was able to view them first without having to pay to see them.

I may view movies online but I have, in turn, gone to the theatre to see the ones I enjoyed and felt merited the 15$ or more (not to mention the cost of food) the theaters run these days.

I feel that taking down websites like these actually limits what people will spend money on. The last time I wasted money going to the theatre for a terrible movie I took a 2 year hiatus on theatres and buying anything on video and opted for books instead. I think companies will actually lose business because they disallow movies and videos to be previewed in public domains. If people do not buy a product once they have seen it online or downloaded it illegally, then perhaps people should take the time to re-evaluate the quality of the media they are producing. You wouldn't go to the garbage dump and pay good money for trash, why would you pay good money for garbage media?

What "hurts" "ordinary working people" are corrupt self serving officials in key governmental positions who push policies that have nothing to do with "protecting" the people and everything to do with maximizing profit and control for those who have more than enough to live with already; war mongers who think occupying and stealing foreign resources are what keeps amerika "safe"; flag waving ubber patriots who cant distinguish between between right and wrong INSTEAD of "right" and "left"; ignorant individuals working in the infotainment industry who disseminate disinformation instead of doing their job and going to the heart of the matter and TRUTH! This is NOT the change we VOTED for. And sadly the other players are as bad and WORSE!

Is it a coincidence that Hulu announced their paid service the day before this happened?

Well, as a Canadian living in China, I now have absolutely no way of watching the shows I paid for back home. And honestly, when cable companies start charging $100+ p/month for cable, some people can't afford it.

Oh well, back to buying pirate dvd's. It's China, after all. Not like I can find legitimate dvd's here.

First off, protecting creativity and innovation? Creativity on TV is a very rare thing these days, its just more shows about pawn store owning, truck driving, cake baking midgets. Do we really need 8 shows about midgets. Creativity my ass.

Second, why do they even bother? They spend a tone of money tracking down sites like this just to have new ones pop up in a week or two. It doesn't stop anything, once things are on the internet there is no controlling it. You can't just bully pirates into stopping, you have to find a way to beat them at their own game.

Ninja Video was awesome, and I have found many great shows that way, and have subsequently purchased said shows on dvd because I liked them so much. This is a very sad day.

I understand the need to penalize criminal activity, that makes sense, however I don't believe that this is an effective use of government resources as the actual impact of video streaming on film revenue is in reality quite negligible. There's a lot of good information out here supporting this, and I found this cool website (http://bit.ly/9JYLpH) that had an interesting take on the whole thing. Maybe it's just me, but I think the response is out of proportion to the offense.

Posted a comment about this before. Just wanted to point out the idiocy of those pushing to stop 'piracy' and promoting the misconception that piracy is causing them to lose profits.
Its simple to do the research and find out that this is an outright lie. Even the GOA stated that there is not only no evidence showing they lose money, but there is in fact evidence showing that their profits long term are increased. Studies have shown that people who are more active in unauthorized file sharing, also tend to spend more on authorized entertainment purchases..
Why do you think they allow their copyrighted music to be played on the radio? It increases sales & profits of the music played is why. Its why more and more artists are subscribing to the idea of self promoting and producing. They can just offer up lots of their content for free d/l, while increasing their own notoriety, and as a result, profits.
This is also why you see many software companies giving away a large portion of their software for free. How do you think some of these anti-virus products like AVG became so popular? Its a good business model to follow, and because of it, they now make a good profit from having given it away for free.
Studies have also shown that since piracy started, sales & profits of entertainment media has skyrocketed.

Sounds like they are biting a valuable hand that feeds them; sadly taking good people with them who have actually helped increase their profits.

thank you for existing information provided, it is very useful for me

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