International Police Operation Targets Movie Piracy Release Groups

Police in three European countries have carried out an operation to disrupt two scene release groups said to be responsible for pre-releasing thousands of movies onto the Internet. The action, which focused on datacenters and home addresses across Germany, Switzerland and Hungary, targeted the leaders and equipment of CRUCiAL and iNSPiRED.

Following years of investigation into online piracy, in September 2009 the German Federation against Copyright Infringement (GVU) filed a complaint with the prosecutor in Frankfurt, Germany.

Their complaint centered on a pair of movie-focused release groups known as CRUCiAL and iNSPiRED. Following their creations in 2008 and 2006 respectively, GVU claimed that together the groups had released as many as 2,600 DVD and Blu-ray ripped movies online, many of them in advance of their street dates.

The GVU now say their investigation has borne fruit, with the initiation late last month of an international police operation against the leaders of the groups.

Under the control of police headquarters in Frankfurt, on November 29th raids were carried out against several private homes in Germany and computer datacenters in Switzerland and Hungary.

GVU said that pinning the groups’ servers down had proven problematic, since they had been supplied through resellers and rented under false names. Nevertheless, a 180TB Swiss server and a 30TB Hungarian server were both seized along with various computers and hard drives from locations in Germany.

According to the GVU complaint, CRUCiAL were responsible for running the server and obtaining source material from, among other places, two other Scene groups based in the United States.

Back home in Germany, the group was affiliated with 10 other groups who released the same movies online in different file formats.

The GVU investigation is said to have concluded that CRUCiAL were the source of the first DVD-quality Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince leak which had been ripped from a forensically-watermarked copy intended for Scandinavia. GVU say the DVD was physically stolen from an Austrian pressing plant at the behest of CRUCiAL’s leader. Copies of the movie then reportedly turned up on Kino.to, the now-defunct streaming movie portal raided earlier this year.

According to Scene records, both groups stopped releasing in an official capacity in 2010, iNSPiRED in May, CRUCiAL in September, with the former handing the ‘rights’ to their TV show releases to a pair of other groups. Both these new groups made their latest releases just today.

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