DOJ Acts Against P2P Copyright Piracy

Attorney General John Ashcroft has announced details of "Operation Digital Gridlock." Calling the protection of America's intellectual property "a priority for the Department of Justice," he outlined the creation of the Intellectual Property Task Force in March of this year, and the subsequent successes of the task force to date in protecting "the innovative and creative capacity of our economy."

Highlights of the Task Force's enforcement action include April's "Operation Fastlink" which focused on "the highly organized, international online theft networks known as Warez ("wares") groups [which] ...are often the original sources for most of the stolen movies, music, games and software that filter down through more commonly used methods of distribution, such as peer-to-peer networks."

Now, in the first ever "federal enforcement action ...against criminal copyright theft on peer-to-peer networks," the FBI has "executed six search warrants in Texas, New York, and Wisconsin at five residences and one Internet service provider" as part of Operation Digital Gridlock, which is conducting an ongoing criminal investigation involving the FBI's Washington Field Office, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, and the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Justice Department's Criminal Division.

Investigating "the illegal distribution and reproduction of copyrighted music, movies, software, and games, over peer-to-peer networks," the Task Force has confiscated computers, software, and related equipment belonging to a group known as "The Underground Network" which is comprised of five 5 Direct Connect networks including "Achenon's Alley," "MOVIEROOM," "PROJECT X/THE ASYLUM," and "SILENT ECHOES" that have made over 40 terabytes of copyrighted material available for download.

Stating that "P2P does not stand for 'Permission to Pilfer'," Ashcroft emphasized that the "Illegal distribution and reproduction of copyrighted material is a serious criminal offense."