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Massive illegal streaming service shut down by EU agency

Credit: Public Domain Pictures

An illegal streaming network consisting of 60 servers in 18 countries has been dismantled following an international operation led by the European Union’s Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation.

The agency, also known as Eurojust, shut down the ‘Sparks Group’ network that was allegedly run by hackers. The hackers infringed copyright laws by hosting pirated films and television shows, making them available to viewers worldwide. Two arrests were made in Cyprus and the United States in connection to the case, Eurojust stated on Wednesday.

According to Eurojust, the Sparks Group ran one of the biggest online piracy networks in the world, costing the US film and television industry tens of millions of dollars in yearly revenues.

“By deceiving the legal distributors with fraudulent reasoning, they obtained legal copies of DVD and Blu-Ray disks of blockbuster movies, television shows, and other content in advance of their release dates, compromised their copyright protections and then uploaded and distributed the illegal copies via servers operated by the [organised criminal group],” Eurojust’s statement read.

The operation was executed by Eurojust and Europol in cooperation with US authorities, shutting down servers located across Europe, Asia, and America.

In total, Sparks Group servers were located in 11 EU Member States (the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Latvia, Romania, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands). Additional servers in the United Kingdom, Norway and Switzerland were also taken offline.

“Thanks to the long-standing partnership between the US and the European authorities, we managed to deal a significant blow to online piracy,” President of Eurojust Ladislav Hamran said, congratulating all 18 countries that contributed to the mission.

The Director of the US Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, Vaughn Ary, thanked Eurojust and Europol for their “critical role in the investigation and takedown of these alleged cyber criminals”.

Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times

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