Feds Make 9 Movie Pirate Sites Walk The Plank

We’re guessing the government has quarterly quotas for number of sites pushing pirated movies it shuts down, because on the last day of June the feds swooped in and shivered the timbers of several sites that had been allowing cheapos to not spend $12 to see Jonah Hex and other fine Hollywood offerings.

Yesterday, authorities seized domain names from nine websites, including TVShack.net, PlanetMoviez.com and ThePirateCity.org and Ninjavideo.net, all of which they believe engaged in the “criminal theft of American movies and television.”

They also went after the money, seizing assets from bank, investment and advertising accounts.

For some reason, it took 100 agents working in 11 states and the Netherlands to bring down these sites.

Funny… all my movie-downloading friends have had to do to find one of these sites was to use Google.

Because the biggest law enforcement concern of our federal government should be making sure that Disney can still pay hack writers $1,500/day to punch up scripts to straight-to-video Alladin sequels, the White House recently launch the pun-tastically titled “Operation in Our Sites,” which really, really wishes you would stop downloading movies for free.

In an effort to make himself sound like a real badass lawyer you might see in a movie or TV show, the U.S. Attorney for NY’s Southern District dropped this memorable quote:

If your business model is piracy, your story will not have a happy ending.

Feds crack down on Internet movie pirates, score bust [L.A. Times]

Comments

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  1. Mike says:

    And nine new Pirate sites will appear in 3..2..1..

  2. theSuperman says:

    “…federal government should be making sure that Disney can still pay hack writers $1,500/day to punch up scripts to straight-to-video Alladin sequels…”

    Sigh, it’s Aladdin, not Alladin.

  3. nbs2 says:

    1) Chris, hyperbole does not become you. Or, I need to get into the movie writing business if I can make $1500/day writing Aladdin scripts.

    2) Also, you seem to be on an anger roll. Granted, neither this nor the insurance story are exactly happy, but I’m a little scared.

    3) You’re right. This seems like an even more futile effort than the drug war, and at least in that war, people could say “my crackhead brother has a screwed up life because of drugs.” I can’t imagine people saying, “my movie watching brother has a screwed up life because he watched a free copy of 6%-on-rotten-tomatoes Last Airbender.”

    4) Did the attorney take off his sungalsses at the comma? He must have been practicing that one in the mirror for weeks.

    • SixOfOne says:

      It’s up to 6%? I looked this morning and it said 5%. Such a disappointment, I was hoping M. Night wouldn’t completely trash the franchise.

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        WHAT A TWIST. :(

    • runswithscissors says:

      For #4, I imagine it went like this:

      “If your business model is piracy…”

      (puts on sunglasses)

      “…your story will not have a happy ending.”

      YYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

  4. jaya9581 says:

    The government should just start paying the movie studios all the money they are investing into taking down pirate sites and leaving the sites up. It’s probably more than the studios would get if people got the stuff legally.

  5. Jesse says:

    Piracy investigations aren’t as simple as just Googling the sites and having them shut down. You have to assemble a case with evidence that will survive in court. That can take time.

  6. Daverson says:

    As long as there is one smoldering ember on the barbecue of justice, you can still cook a mighty steak…of VICTORY!

    • PunditGuy says:

      If the Tick never said that, he should have.

    • The Gray Train says:

      Crimson Chin said it, which is a superhero from the Disney show Fairly Oddparents based on the tick and I think voiced by Adam West. The Crimson Chin parts are the best.

      • crunchberries says:

        Er, the Fairly Oddparents is owned by Nickelodeon and produced by Butch Hartman. The Crimson Chin is voiced by Adam West and I believe is based on the Tick, though, so you’re mostly right.

  7. diasdiem says:

    These sites may be pirates, but the movie studios are highwaymen. The amount they charge for some of the crap they churn out.

    • savvy9999 says:

      was just poring over the $9.99 movie bin at the supermarket last night, and was amazed at the shit in it. In what universe can some marketing genius still think Weekend At Bernie’s is worth $10? Blame It On Rio? Whatever that movie was with Tom Hanks as a cop and his huge slobbering St. Bernard?

      Price points for DVDs older than 5 years should be $1.

      No wonder piracy exists (for new movies, or old). I know, the studios still make money, suckers born every minute.

  8. Mr_Human says:

    You’re angry that illegal download sites are being closed?

    • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

      No, he sounds irritated it took that much Tax Money for something so ridiculous. When is the last time a Hollywood person (actor, writer, director, ANY of them) appeared in a human interest piece on how much this ‘piracy’ has taken from them?

      How many homes? Really. None. So, I say the irritation is well warranted. There are more important things to worry about.

      • Mr_Human says:

        You could say that about almost any low-level, nonviolent crime.

        • Elcheecho says:

          if your point is that there is more than on “crime” that should not warrant this level of use of public resources, I’m having trouble seeing what your beef is.

  9. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    For some reason, it took 100 agents working in 11 states and the Netherlands to bring down these sites.

    Funny… all my movie-downloading friends have had to do to find one of these sites was to use Google.

    WTF Chris? It’s not like you can Google “(movie pirate site) offshore bank account statements” and get the same EVIDENCE the government needed to actually shut these guys down. If it was ever just as simple as Googling the company and saying, “hey, Director, these guys obviously exist. Let’s bust ‘em!” than we’d all be federal agents too. But your comments are uncalled for considering there’s a hell of a lot more than Googling that goes into actually building a case against people who broke the law.

    • jo3lr0ck5 says:

      I think he meant that 100 agents had to take part of these cases…it doesn’t take that many people to solve a real robbery or murder.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Right, and these things take time, and manpower. It took 45 agents to investigate Enron. And as 100 agents were from 11 states and the Netherlands, we don’t have a clear indication of how many of those 100 agents came from the US.

      • mac-phisto says:

        they executed simultaneous property seizures & warrants in 4 different states & 15 different financial institutions. obviously that requires a little coordination.

  10. jo3lr0ck5 says:

    And now the people that used those sites went to the other million sites offering the same movies and some in even better quality than the ones they used before…

    Such futility, 100 agents? 11 states? Netherlands?? For 9 websites? Really? Just press reset on the internetz “reset” button and just make sure none of these pages ever make it to the web. And to Hollywood please make movie prices more sensible and stop paying movie stars millions of dollars for no reason.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      they broke the law. Just because we have bigger fish to fry doesn’t mean these people should get off the hook. Also, do you know where the money was going? Was it as simple as lining the pockets of the people doing these things, or did some of those people have a nasty drug habit? Were they above using their ill-gotten money to fund other illegal activities? Even if the entire investigation concluded that these people weren’t doing anything else illegal aside from pirating movies, people doing illegal things have been caught. That’s something.

      • vrefron says:

        So based on your argument, you’d have no problems with 100 cops swooping into your neighborhood and issuing citations for jaywalking, 26 in a 25, license plate frames, etc.? No, it’s not the same thing, but my point is, when so many people are doing something illegal, often it’s the law, not the behavior, that is the problem.

  11. mac-phisto says:

    awww…did someone get their porn torrents killed last nite? poor chris. :*(

    • Chris Morran says:

      Nope… they’re still arou— I mean, I have absolutely no idea of what you speak.

  12. smartmuffin says:

    If you don’t think Jonah Hex is worth $12, then you are free to not see it. That’s how voluntary exchange works. Don’t like it, move to Russia, etc.

  13. smo0 says:

    That’s funny – the MOST popular pirate sites are NOT on that list…. hmm…

    • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

      Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……

    • mac-phisto says:

      i imagine that’s b/c those sites are outside of the jurisdiction of our government. the big ones are very strategic with where they set up their servers precisely for this reason.

      considering that our IP law is arguably the most punitive in the world, you’re pretty much a moron if you’re setting up pirate servers here.

  14. NarcolepticGirl says:

    dammit. but thats how I watch my shows without cable.

  15. Cicadymn says:

    RIP internet

  16. Bizdady says:

    The Hurt locker producer is behind this raid…

    I know it!!

  17. gedster314 says:

    How about making the movie theater experience nicer, include movie passes and special event passes in DVD/blue Ray packages.

    It’s way too easy to set up these sites. If they target the downloaders, it’s too easy to use proxies and spoof ip/mac addresses.

    Maybe try to find away to dry up the revenue stream for these sites, go after the advertisers. Bandwidth and hosting isn’t free.

  18. Draygonia says:

    Lol… Warez BB and Demonoid are still around… I don’t see them closing down anytime soon. Especially since I have never heard of those sites and… well, I get spammed with Warez and Torrent sites every day…

  19. smartmuffin says:

    Also, this isn’t a consumer issue. Consumers actually pay for things. Please post your rant on a piracy blog.

    • The Gray Train says:

      but piracy is the tired excuse the entertainment industry (movies, t.v. and video games) uses to jack up prices beyond reason. ok, the video game industry isn’t so bad because it does take several groups of people years of hard work to produce a game. but still.

    • UltimateOutsider says:

      I do see your point, although you could spin this in a Consumerist-relevant way. For example, that the government is using its resources to protect multi-billion-dollar businesses instead of protecting the increasingly bankrupt consumer public. But then again, that’s hardly news…

    • Chris Morran says:

      How is piracy NOT a consumer issue? It’s what movie studios use as an excuse to raise prices on movies and DVDs. It’s what makes video game companies and software providers place crippling DRM on their products. In case you don’t remember, there was a little thing called Napster that had the music industry weeping for years and has subsequently changed the entire way we acquire music and video.

      But yeah, you’re right… it’s not a consumer issue.

      • ShadowFalls says:

        Yup, the word “excuse” sounds about right. Because as of yet, they haven’t proven a single ‘lost’ sale. A download doesn’t mean it would have been a sale. This is how I am at a loss of the RIAA or MPAA being able to prove actual damages. Theoretical damages are just theoretical. Unless they can prove even a single download resulted in an actual loss of a sale, then they have no case.

        Most often downloaded content can be relating to either accessibility of content due to geographical location, or lack of funds. In some cases, downloads actually make a sale happen that may not have happened if the said download never occurred. This is why I appreciate the many content distributors who have started to stream their content. They allow you to enjoy it, if you want you can buy it later, and they get revenue from ads. Personally I don’t mind advertisements if there are not too many and I can be selective on what I am watching, rather than what just comes on during a certain time block.

        What happened to the times where being an artist was more about pleasing the people who got to enjoy it? Now it seems to be all about money grubbing. Oh that’s right, capitalism. The ensuing rot of our world.

        Though as an interesting thought. I wonder who first coined the phrase “piracy” when referring to internet downloads. The phrase on its own sounds kind of silly, and if anything, just romanticizes it.

  20. Beeker26 says:

    It absolutely infuriates me that with all the shit going on in our country right now our government can find the time and money to tackle this ridiculous non-issue.

    • smartmuffin says:

      You do realize that there’s like, hundreds if not thousands of different government agencies. That responsibilities are delegated. That there isn’t just one big office in D.C. that says THE GOVERNMENT on the side of the building. It’s not like Obama himself (who, contrary to popular belief, is not the absolute authority on every issue) said “I’ve thought about the Oil Spil and the two-theater wars enough… NOW I’M GONNA BUST SOME TORRENT SITES”

      Being responsible for multiple issues of a wide variety of importance and/or complexity isn’t just a feature of government… it’s sort of a requirement.

  21. The Gray Train says:

    in my experience, piracy is the only way to acquire older games, because retailers rotate out stock, or the publisher is closed down and no one else is selling the game. also, many groups that do crack games will add the latest patch updates, or home-made patches to make the game work with newer operating systems. lastly, many people who do pirate (games and music at least), have the same ethical code: if you enjoy the product, buy a copy to support the creator(s). can’t tell you how many games and cd’s i’ve bought because of that.

    • vrefron says:

      Bad DRM has forced many I know into the world of piracy.

      “My $50 game is suddenly worthless. I guess I’ll go to torrent x. Hey, I can get lots of other games for free. Hmmm…”

  22. umbriago says:

    What, everybody didn’t hear?

    You didn’t hear about the Joint Strategic Plan to Combat Intellectual Property Theft announced June 22 by the White House?

    Well, they didn’t wait long.

    It has some interesting components: one of the most interesting is a provision called “imminent infringement”, which allows the government to charge people who they think might be about to infringe with a civil offense (for example if you searched “torrent daft punk”). Source. So it’s like the first thought crime!

    The hope is that this goes as well as the War on Drugs is going. Which I guess is going pretty well.

    • pot_roast says:

      This is what we get for electing a pro-Hollywood/pro-RIAA vice president into office. The Department of Justice has *five* former RIAA lawyers, and the MPAA and its Democrat Hollywood friends have been quite busy penning back room “copyright protection” deals. (ACTA)

  23. brianisthegreatest says:

    Those were no name sites. Those are like ants. There will be many many more before this war ends.

  24. Gregg Araki Rocks My World says:

    Goodbye ninjavideo. You were good while it lasted.

  25. Southern says:

    And just out of curiousity, why is ICE involved?

    Are they SERIOUSLY more concerned about piracy than illegal immi… wait, nevermind.

    Fracking stupid ass government. Place is going to hell in a handbasket.

  26. SanDiegoDude says:

    Open Google.
    Type “Watch movies”
    select first hit.

    Welcome to the life of a pirate. ARRRRR!

    (My nephew showed me this btw… I must be falling behind the curve, my movie watching urges have been sated quite well by Netflix)

  27. Mecharine says:

    As long as they dont shut down Pornbay, amirite guys?

  28. pot_roast says:

    A ton of piracy takes place in China. Yet US companies are falling over themselves to open offices in China and then act surprised when their intellectual property is ripped off. So it’s the job of the White House to fix it?