Earlier this year, possibly through the use of watermarks, the major Hollywood studios began tracking illicit copies of movies back to theaters in Hungary. Running out of patience, Warner Bros said that for the foreseeable future their movies would not be released locally, on or near their US release dates.
Although the lax security in Hungary had been exploited for some time, the problem seemed to come to a head when a copy of Hangover Part II turned up online just after its premiere.
The copy of most interest to the international audience came from release group EP1C, who had spliced the video from the Hungarian language release with English language audio. The all-important video source had been supplied by release group CiNEDUB. According to the Hungarian government, that group are now in all kinds of trouble.
The National Tax and Customs Administration (NAV) say that in response to US pressure, its financial investigators and police have shut down “the largest pirate server center” in the country, which reportedly played a major role in the CiNEDUB group.
Dramatic video footage showed more than a dozen heavily armored and masked police and customs agents, some of them armed, smash down doors, make arrests and seize equipment. At one point the camera shows a shotgun on the floor of what appears to be a residential address. In another shot the camera homes in on a mirror, razor blade and what appears to be cocaine. Piles of money only add to the ‘Tony Montana’ effect.
The authorities say they seized 10 servers, 3 of which had a combined capacity of 70TB. They contained 5000 movies, 4000 songs , 6000 games and 500 pieces of software.
The government reports that access to the illegal material was being sold by a 9-man team using premium SMS payment systems and bank transfers. Two men are said to be under arrest and the rest are said to be “still at large.”
TorrentFreak spoke with SCT of ASVA, the leading local P2P blog, and asked if CiNEDUB stand accused of running the entire operation, a part of it, or whether they simply provided movies which were later exploited by the server operators. That remains unclear.
The government, however, are laying the blame firmly at CiNEDUB’s feet for attracting the ire of Hollywood.
“Most of this team were responsible for the great American filmmakers blacklisting Hungary,” NAV said in a statement.