In an unprecedented joint operation, U.S. and Brazilian law enforcement teams cracked down on pirate online services and apps that illegally reproduced and distributed copyrighted content from U.S. media companies to Brazilian customers.
Three U.S.-based domain names were shut down while the Brazilian-led takedown, dubbed Operation 404, saw 25 search and seizure warrants issued across Sao Paolo, Bahia and eight other states, as well as the blocking or suspension of 252 illegal content sites in Brazil.
“By seizing these domain names, law enforcement has disrupted the unlawful reproduction and distribution of thousands of pirated television shows and movies, while also cutting off the profits to unlawful actors willing to exploit the hard work of others for their own personal gain,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
The raids in Brazil also saw the seizure of guns, luxury cars and goods from the digital content pirates, according to MPA executive vice president and global content protection chief Jan van Voorn, who also leads the anti-piracy efforts of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), the coalition founded in 2017 by MPA and 30 of the world’s leading media and technology companies, including Netflix, Apple TV Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO, Hulu and BBC Studios.
“ACE congratulates U.S. law enforcement and our Brazilian partners on their success with this case,” said van Voorn, adding: “This operation represents the first time there has been this level of cooperation between the U.S. and Latin America, which is critical in the global fight against digital piracy.”
Van Voorn pointed out that these piracy services had hundreds of thousands of subscribers who paid an average of $70 a year each through which they had access to live TV channels, live sports programs and all the popular streaming content, among others.
This translated to annual earnings of some tens of millions of dollars for the cyber pirates, which went towards their luxury homes and cars, not taxes or royalties, he asserted. “This is a global issue, not just in Brazil or Latin America,” he pointed out. “ACE continues to work diligently to stop illegal enterprises and protect our members’ rights while remaining dedicated to growing [the] legal market for creative content and reducing piracy.”
“Illegal streaming is not a victimless crime,” said Derek Benner, executive associate director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “It harms the content creators of the shows that you know and love, and feeds a criminal enterprise whose profits support organized criminal endeavors.”