Police decode customer list for bootleg films

16th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

21 December 2004 , HAMBURG - Investigators have managed to decode an encrypted list of customers who bought bootleg films from a German website, meaning criminal charges may be laid against thousands of web users, a spokesman for Thuringia state police said. Police swooped in September on what was described as one of the western world's biggest internet piracy operations and arrested four businessmen including a prominent Munich lawyer. The spokesman declined to confirm a report in the Thueringer Allgemein

21 December 2004

HAMBURG - Investigators have managed to decode an encrypted list of customers who bought bootleg films from a German website, meaning criminal charges may be laid against thousands of web users, a spokesman for Thuringia state police said.

Police swooped in September on what was described as one of the western world's biggest internet piracy operations and arrested four businessmen including a prominent Munich lawyer.

The spokesman declined to confirm a report in the Thueringer Allgemeine newspaper that data on about 16,000 web users had been revealed when police cracked the encryption on the address list.

"Whether it's 8,000 or 20,000, we can't say just yet," he said. Customers could face jail terms under German copyright law.

The site, based in Thuringia in eastern Germany, is also accused of selling pirated songs and copyright software without a licence, feeding a market for what is known in internet lingo as "warez".

The majority of customers who paid monthly fees for a feast of "high-speed downloads" are believed to have been Germans. The website did not say the material was stolen, but police say this must have been evident to a surfer of normal intelligence.

Investigators say total takings by the website since last year amounted to EUR 1.0 million.

Three of the arrested operators including the lawyer remain in pre-trial custody while one man has been bailed.

GVU, a Hamburg-based association that combats piracy, said the operation, www.ftp-welt.com, was the biggest illegal vendor of German-language material on the internet. Payments moved via a company registered in the British Virgin Islands.

According to GVU, the losses to the true copyright owners exceeded EUR 10 million.

DPA

Subject: German news

 

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