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Last Updated: Friday, 23 April, 2004, 01:49 GMT 02:49 UK
US leads internet piracy raids
CD and a computer keyboard
Internet piracy is costing the US music industry dearly
Police in the US and 10 other countries have seized 200 computers in raids against organised online piracy of films, music, games and software.

Some 30 servers used for storage and distribution were seized, with one said to have contained 65,000 titles.

US Attorney General John Ashcroft said it was "the most far-reaching and aggressive enforcement action ever" against internet piracy.

News of the raid was welcomed by the entertainment and software industries.

They have long been pushing for law enforcement agencies to take a tough stance against internet piracy.

They say that without copyright protection and enforcement, the artists and distributors behind the work could lose hundreds of millions of dollars.

Operation Fastlink

"Today is a good day for creative artists," John Malcolm, chief of antipiracy operations for the Motion Picture Association and a former senior Justice Department official told the Associated Press.

"Without copyright protection and enforcement, piracy will dramatically and deleteriously impact the future of the American film industry."

Operation Fastlink, as the investigation is known, targeted senior members of international piracy organisations that distribute films, music and games, often before they are released to the public.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation and agents from other countries carried out 120 synchronised searches in 27 US states and 10 countries starting on Wednesday, Mr Ashcroft said.

The raids were carried out in Belgium, the United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore and Sweden.

Although no arrests were announced, Mr Ashcroft said some charges would be brought.

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