Italian Police Carry Out Largest Ever ‘Pirate’ Domain Crackdown

Acting under instruction from the Public Prosecutor of Rome, Italian police are carrying out what is believed to be the country's largest ever crackdown on torrent, streaming and other file-sharing related portals. A total of 46 sites will now be blocked at the ISP level.

For many years Italian authorities have targeted torrent and other file-sharing sites. Complaints from the music and movie industries have sometimes led to raids, but in recent times site blocking has been in vogue.

Sharing giants such as The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents, isoHunt, 1337x and waves of file-hosting sites have been blocked in previous actions, with 27 targeted in a single sweep during April 2013, the largest ever of its type.

Now authorities are back with a fresh action on a previously unseen scale. The initiative, which targets 46 torrent, streaming and other file-sharing portals, was ordered by the Public Prosecutor of Rome.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, Fulvio Sarzana, a lawyer with the Sarzana and Partners law firm specializing in Internet and copyright disputes, says the operation is the largest ever seen in Italy and will see dozens of sites blocked at the ISP level.

“The domains of sites linking to torrent files, in order to download illegal copies of music and movie, have been seized today as ordered by Preliminary investigation Judge of Rome, at the request of the public prosecutor,” Sarzana explains.

“Both the DNS addresses of the sites and their domain name have been made inaccessible to Italian users by all Italian ISPs, in such a way to deprive users of the possibility to access their files hosted in the sites.”

The blocking will be carried out on the orders of the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), a department under Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance tasked with dealing with financial crime, and will cover sites including mondotorrent, dopinatorrent, truepirates, filmxtutti, casacinema, watchfreemovies.ch and universfilms.

Interestingly, Sarzana adds that the case could have a novel twist, in that the police carried out the action on their own initiative.

“At present it seems that the action wasn’t carried out at the request of copyright owners associations,” the lawyer explains.

TF spoke with Enzo Mazzo of music industry group FIMI who confirmed that while there is yet no public announcement on the action, it was indeed carried out by the Fiscal Police from Rome with an order from the Public Prosecutor.

“We obviously appreciate the action carried out by the Fiscal Police following the blocking strategy,” Mazzo said.

This huge sweep is of particular interest when one considers that a controversial new process to more easily block allegedly infringing sites is not yet in force. Dubbed Italy’s ‘SOPA’, the framework – set for April introduction – will see the domains of sites blocked at the ISP level if they fail to remove infringing content in a timely fashion.

Meanwhile, across Europe in Spain, three of the country’s largest sites have bowed to rightsholder pressure and agreed to stop linking to infringing content. According to THR, SeriesYonkis, Peliculas Yonkis and VideoYonkis stopped linking over the weekend as part of negotiations in their legal dispute with Spain’s Anti-Piracy Federation (FAP).

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