Global law enforcement agencies banded together in an effort to stop one of the largest global piracy organizations. The Southern District of New York made the announcement in a statement Wednesday.
Indictments were filed against three men – 39-year-old Umar Ahmad, aka “Artist”; 36-year-old Jonatan Correa, aka “Raid”; and 50-year-old George Bridi. The three were charged with “copyright infringement, and as to Bridi, wire fraud, for their involvement in the Sparks Group, an international piracy group involved in illegally distributing movies and television shows on the Internet.”
The move was made in coordination with law enforcement in 18 other countries. Along with filing charges against Ahmad, Correa, and Bridi, dozens of servers, used to store and distribute content illegally, controlled by Sparks Group were taken offline.
“As alleged, Sparks Group members reproduced and disseminated hundreds of movies and television shows prior to their retail release date, including nearly every movie released by major production studios, causing millions of dollars in losses to the film and television industry,” said HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh.
The indictments show that the men allegedly obtained copyrighted DVDs and Blu-Ray discs before their retail release dates, using “various material representations” to wholesale distributors. They then used software to reproduce the content and distribute it online.
“Copyright criminals have come a long way from bootlegging movies in local theaters and selling inferior quality videos and DVD’s on the streets of New York City for $5.00,” said USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett. “The movies and TV shows allegedly stolen by these defendants not only represent a body of work ripped off from those who spent years developing their craft and working their way to stardom, but deprives the studios and actors of the fruits of their labor.”
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