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Teutonic org ramps up piracy fight

GVU raids rose 51% in 2004

BERLIN — Copyright infringement busts in Germany were up dramatically in 2004, thanks in part to the German Federation Against Copyright Theft (GVU).

Org is an affiliate of the Motion Picture Assn., which has pushed a zero-tolerance policy in the battle against film and software piracy.

The number of raids involving the GVU in 2004 rose 51% to 2,084. The number of lawsuits involving films and entertainment software jumped 65% to more than 2,500.

GUV officials attributed the results to improved diligence among German prosecutors regarding copyright infringement.

“The closer you look, the more you find,” said GUV managing director Jochen Tielke. “Apparently people are looking much more closely now and we have our hands full.”

Since German lawmakers amended the Copyright Act in 2003, downloaders of pirated copies have faced stiffer penalties. Anyone who obtains and replicates movies, games and music from illegal sources like peer-to-peer networks is committing a criminal offense.

The GUV pointed to a September bust of Web-based FTP-WELT.com, whose 45,000 subscribers had access to illegal versions of new films, as proof that offenders will find little mercy in German courts.

The three defendants in the case face up to five years in prison, and 15,000 users who downloaded from the site face prosecution.

“This success on the part of the GVU and the German prosecution authorities is unmatched anywhere in the world,” noted Dara MacGreevy, Motion Picture Assn. VP.

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