Feds Go After Star Wars Pirates, BitTorrent
The U.S. government is going after BitTorrent, a web piracy group that has distributed 10,000 free copies of “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” in the last week.
Federal agents launched a crackdown Wednesday on users of a popular new technology used to steal the latest “Star Wars” movie and other large data files, according to immigration officials. The campaign was described by government officials as the first-ever criminal action against operators of the file-sharing program known as BitTorrent.
BitTorrent, described as Hollywood’s version of the Napster scourge that rocked the music industry several years ago, has been used by Internet users to download massive files, such as movies and video games, quickly and far more easily than they could in the past. BitTorrent captured headlines last week when it was revealed that “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” was available for free online.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced in a statement a crackdown against top members of a file-sharing network that is based on BitTorrent and calls itself Elite Torrents. Government agents said the onslaught included 10 search warrants and the shut down of a central Web site used to coordinate all file-sharing activity on the Elite Torrents network.
That Web site, Elitetorrents.org, had a selection of copyrighted works that government officials described as “virtually unlimited.” The sixth and final installment of the “Star Wars” franchise was available for downloading on Elitetorrents.org more than six hours before it was released on theaters Thursday after midnight, according to the government statement. Within 24 hours, more than 10,000 copies of the “Star Wars” film had been swiped.
Amazing. I’m rather skeptical about going after music file sharing, since the most popular songs are available for free on the radio. It’s hard to argue, though, that the ability to see a movie for free would not seriously harm sales.
Of course, “Revenge of the Sith” seems to be doing just fine, having already broken several box office records. . . .