Translated as “Financial Guard”, Guardia di Finanza (GdF) is a department under Italy’s Minister of Economy and Finance and actually part of the Italian Armed Forces. It is tasked with dealing with financial crime and smuggling, and is increasingly involved in file-sharing cases.
Today the department announced that following an investigation and the execution of a warrant against a resident of Naples, its officers have shut down a total of five file-sharing sites.
A 49-year-old man, known online under the pseudonym “Tex Willer”, was allegedly the operator of the series of sites including ItalianShare, MusicShare, FilmShare and ItalianSexy. All were hosted in Las Vegas and are currently down.
Together they reportedly had in excess of 136,000 subscribers and carried 31,600 links to movies, music, TV shows, software, games and pornography indexed on BitTorrent, cyberlockers and eDonkey networks.
As is common in such investigations, emphasis is being placed on the fact that the sites made music, movies and games available before their commercial release.
Furthermore, since the sites had advertising and donation accounts operating through PayPal, Guardia di Finanza are framing their investigation as one against for-profit piracy and tax evasion.
With assistance from FPM (Federation Against Music Piracy), AESVI (Italian Entertainment Software Publishers Association) and movie anti-piracy group FAPAV, complaints were filed against three alleged leaders of the websites along with the seizure of computer equipment.
The investigation is still ongoing, with GdF noting that seized data will “provide specific facts relating to those who were responsible for illegally sharing tens of thousands of protected copyright works online.”
In April, Italy censored torrent search engine BTjunkie but in response to its owner creating a proxy site to unblock access, GdF quickly took the proxy site down.