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Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 16:50 GMT
Eight arrested over software piracy
Pirate music and software stall in Malaysia
Software and music piracy is now a global problem
Eight people have been arrested in Britain as part of an international operation against internet piracy gangs.

The arrests were made by police taking part in a massive investigation into groups accused of illegally copying and distributing billions of dollars worth of software, music and videos.

The men, arrested for alleged conspiracy to defraud, are said to belong to the "DrinkorDie" internet piracy network.

Several are thought to be employed in IT management or consultancy.

A joint operation by the US Customs Service Cyber Smuggling Team saw 37 universities, businesses and homes searched and addresses were also raided in Finland, Australia and Norway.

Detective Superintendent Mick Deats, deputy head of the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, told BBC News Online the arrests were a major blow to all those involved in internet piracy.

Cost to industry

The men arrested after police searched 11 addresses in England include six Britons and two Ukrainians.

Computer hardware and software was seized and are being checked by forensics experts.


This type of crime may be regarded as low risk in the eyes of the offenders, but people will be arrested and prosecuted

Det Supt Mick Deats
Det Supt Deats said DrinkorDie was one of the world's biggest internet gangs and was thought to have pirated business and security software, as well as copyrighted games, music and videos.

He said Microsoft was among the many companies hit and added: "The cost to industry in relation to the piracy runs into billions worldwide and millions in this country."

Gang members around the world may have made large amounts of money from piracy, he said.

"DrinkorDie like to promote themselves as people doing it for the fun of it, to get a kick out of it and suggest everyone should be able to share software.

"But that's not really the evidence we're seeing and financial investigations are now being carried out."

'Elite'

DrinkorDie is thought to be one of the most sophisticated of the Warez groups, which originated in the early 1990s, selling pirated software through the internet.

The US Customs Service believes the Warez community is responsible for almost 90% of the pirated software sold over the web.

Det Supt Deats said DrinkorDie considered itself an elite organisation, and its demise would have a serious impact on other pirates.

"This type of crime may be regarded as low risk in the eyes of the offenders, but people will be arrested and prosecuted," he said.

See also:

15 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
HK escapes Xbox ban
09 Aug 01 | New Media
Hollywood hits back at hackers
29 Jul 01 | Business
Software piracy on the rise
07 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Hollywood faces piracy battle
20 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Piracy problems stain Windows XP
06 Jun 01 | South Asia
Clamp down on computer piracy
12 Dec 01 | Americas
Huge piracy ring raided
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