back to article Europol wipes out 30,000+ piracy sites, three suspects cuffed to walk the legal plank

Europol says its latest piracy takedown netted three arrests and more than 30,000 website takedowns. The operation was part of an 18-country joint effort involving the European police agency and local cops targeting sites that trafficked in both pirated digital content (streaming video, media files, and cracked software …

  1. Paul Herber Silver badge

    I've had a good number of fake websites stealing content (mainly images) from my website for a while now. Many of them seem to have disappeared! Woo.

    1. robidy

      The average large supermarket will shift 363 litres of booze in an hour.

      Bit of a pointless raid to involve 18 police forces...given it's cross border that'll be say 5 officers per country, so 90 staff, divide that by 363 and they'd be better off taking booze and snide kit off kids drinking in parks...they'd get more with less effort.

      1. IGotOut

        Unless of course those bottles of booze are pretending to be very high end drinks of course. Think Whisk(e)y, Champagne, Run etc etc

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          At £100 a bottle that's only 36k's worth, the local plod get more than that in cocaine each week

      2. David Shaw

        involving 18 pol squads

        That's the point of europol, they develop a system - make it as good as is reasonably possible - then deploy it in some/most of the EU countries to help the local police who don't necessarily have on hand such a budget for high tech enforcement. I suspect therefore that quite a few of those 18 police forces wouldn't have been able to do this takedown alone.

        I have helped in quite a few of their earlier projects, and they are pretty sensible people in Den Haag, very good track record - in my opinion

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: involving 18 pol squads

          Yup, I can vouch for that too. I must go there again one day, the last time I was there it was still led by (now Sir) Rob Wainwright and I found him eminently sane. I've encountered far worse when dealing with police..

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: involving 18 pol squads

          Maybe not but for a few bottle of booze and snide kit they'd have had the same result popping down the local parks without the need for Europol...who could have been working on say an international people smuggling operation or drug smuggling operation.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: involving 18 pol squads

            "snide kit"

            wot?

  2. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    That's all very well

    But like the Hydra, there will be twice as many tomorrow.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: That's all very well

      getting rid of the retailers is good. getting rid of the SUPPLIERS would be better.

      Did they happen to say where the fake-luxury items came from?

      At one time, quite some time ago actually, an alleged group under the alleged name of 'Luxury Replicas' (an allegedly well-known dealer in fake Rolexes and handbags at that time) was [allegedly] spamming advertisements with my e-mail address in the 'From' line.

      I had to quickly learn about spf1 records [that 'allegedly' made it stop].

      And since they were [allegedly] NOW my "new special friends", I [allegedly] managed to get at least one of their [alleged] web servers shut down along the way... [it was allegedly in S. Korea if I remember correctly]. But I [allegedly] contacted an ISP in Switzerland as part of that process. THAT [allegedly] got some action!

      However, seeing at least SOME of these [expletive deleted] fake replica dealers get arrested, brings a smile to my face! And the ones I had to [allegedly] deal with were IRRITATING SPAMMERS as well.

      So I'd call this arrest "a good start"

      1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

        Re: That's all very well

        We are all complicit, though, in making China the factory of the world.

        We, as consumers, wanted continually cheaper stuff. Where were the MAGA hats actually made? Wisconsin? Pennsylvania? China was happy to oblige.

        Company executives wanted fatter margins and bigger profits so they killed off their local factory and started ordering from China. China was happy to oblige.

        Those on the Right of the political spectrum beat the drum that Free Trade is the cure to all problems and from the 1990s onwards tariffs were dropped and free-trade agreements were signed. China was happy to oblige.

        We want cheap but authentic versions of Veblen-goods so that the aspiring classes here can emulate the rich. Is the problem really China?

        And who has benefitted? Executive pay has sky-rocketed. They certainly have done well out of China. The Chinese government is rich. They have done well. We have an endless supply cheap tat and no more factories. We do have our fake Rolexes so I can pretend to be Roger Federer. Have we done well?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's all very well

          We do have our fake Rolexes so I can pretend to be Roger Federer. Have we done well?

          OK, I'll check whose face is on the Sfr 20 and Sfr 50 coin next time I'm over there then :).

          Piracy <> cheap goods. Piracy is FAKE branding. I have no problem with another brand as long as they identify themselves as such - that way, I can choose which balance of reputation/quality/price I want and yes, sometimes I go for cheap (no, not for fashion, look up fast fashion to see I prefer brands where even a T shirt lasts as long as 10 years).

          What is wrong is when you are led to believe you're buying brand X when it is really cheap knockoff brand Y, with brand X doing its best to build quality and brand value, and brand Y doing neither. Yes, brand Y may be identified by lower pricing, but that's far from always the case and criminal gangs are making a fortune from such counterfeit.

          1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

            Re: That's all very well

            I think that you miss my point with your first point. When society creates an aspirational class that can ill afford their aspirations, then there is a market for pirated goods and something wrong with society as a whole.

            With your second point, is anyone really duped by Rolex for $20? Almost all fake Rolexes (or all fake versions of expensive goods) that I have seen were bought in Thailand, China or somewhere in the Far East for a minuscule proportion of the original. People who bought them from a stand on the street in Bangkok knew full well what they were buying.

            This is why we have jewelry shops and the like. If you feel that a CHF14,500 watch is what complements your look, then there are places who will guarantee that the items are real. Places that can be sued should you be sold a crock. eBay & Craigslist are not the places for Rolexes, unless you know what to look for when you are buying.

            Your third point is spot in.

    2. NoneSuch Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: That's all very well

      Yup. What is needed is a universal service that can deliver any movie or TV show on demand for a reasonable monthly fee like Netflix. I'd happily subscribe to that. However, the IP rights to a lot of shows are caught up in family squabbles or stuck in a vault somewhere waiting for the right deal.

      Each corporation (sorry, I have to sneeze... diz-NEE! Excuse me.) wants to set up its own outlet, but none have enough product to justify any lengthy engagement.

      There should be a ten year rule. For ten years, you solely control that TV show or movie to make a profit. After ten years, you still own the copyright and IP, but others can show your stuff, as long as they pay the IP owner a residual fee. That will generate competition and that's always good for the consumer.

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: That's all very well

        I pay for absolutely everything. I still pirate most programmes that I watch because of the convenience and sometimes, Netflix might only have a license for say the first 3 series. I want them all.

        And no, I'm not buying box sets. That's just ridiculous.

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: That's all very well

        I have often said: should Pirate Bay go legal, I would happily pay $25 - $30 per month for access to anything whenever I want it with no DRM. My needs are simple, an obscure TV show or movie for the flight, a book I already have in print, on my ebook reader, etc.

        I do not have a huge collection of pirated stuff, but it does annoy me no end when Netflix (which I pay for, along with several other monthly subscriptions) doesn't have an old movie I want to watch. Fortunately, Pirate Bay has always come to the rescue.

  3. ashdav

    Duplicity

    From the article"making the internet a safer place for consumers".

    So rather than getting what YOU want you have to stream and get ads and tracking.

    I see how that is "safer".

    1. whitepines Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Duplicity

      Don't like it, then change the law. Perhaps copyright should be curtailed for streaming-only content, for instance, thus making recording of those streams for private use legal vs. playing cat and mouse like today?

      Surely there are enough people fed up with these inane restrictions, privacy invasions, etc. to finally change law that was designed for the 18th century, not the 21st?

      And maybe, just maybe, rather than acting like an addict looking for a fix, if you can't get reforms like this through then you should stop paying the streaming beastie and simply find something else to do for recreation? Take up a hobby, play video games, go outdoors once in a while, something, anything else -- enough actual lost revenue (vs fake "piracy" lost revenue) and they might get the hint like the music industry did a while back...

      1. whitepines Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Duplicity

        To the downvoters:

        Are you just wanting free stuff and mad that you might not be able to steal other people's work? That's the kind of attitude that ruins everything for the rest of us.

        Or are you copyright maximalists that want to make sure every possible aspect of art, culture, and history is pay per view forever? Get up in the morning -- pay danegeld to the new Copyright Danes for the artistic copyrighted furniture in your rented flat. Then more for the lovely (copyrighted) artistic view of the street. Pay even more danegeld to see the copyrighted grave of the long-deceased copyright holder. And on and on the insanity goes.... Hint: that way lies piracy no one can stop aside from putting the entire population in jail, and effectively eliminating copyright restrictions of any kind on individuals. Ever wonder why piracy became such a big issue in the first place?

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Duplicity

        "Surely there are enough people fed up with these inane restrictions, privacy invasions, etc. to finally change law that was designed for the 18th century, not the 21st?"

        18th century law had copyright only lasting 20 years or less, ditto patents.

        It's 21st century law that's made all this shit unfit for purpose.

        1. fajensen Silver badge

          Re: Duplicity

          They kinda had to do it. Hollywood can only imagine a limited amount of material and this was duly done, so they have to make it exclusive for centuries.

    2. Len
      Thumb Up

      Re: Duplicity

      I would say that taking down a whole bunch of sites that sell counterfeit medication does make people safer.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Duplicity

        "I would say that taking down a whole bunch of sites that sell counterfeit medication does make people safer."

        You can do THAT without going near copyright and patent laws

        - false and misleading claims

        - public safety

        - unlicensed medical supply

        You might also wonder why the USA has a law (The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 ) WHICH ACTIVELY PROHIBITS the FDA from investigating marketing claims made for "vitamins and supplements"

  4. David 164

    I agree with them targeting counterfeit goods, especially pharmaceuticals, some of those are lethals. So well done on that front.

    Pirates sites, just wasting your time guys. An the one I use is still up!

    1. stiine Silver badge
      Devil

      What's the URL?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What's the URL?

        publishing some urls in the UK is a crime (and probably terror-related, cause these days, everything can be terror-related, if it needs to be)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Just google for "Priatebay proxy". You remember the Piratebay? That's banned in the UK....

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          TPB has a Tor address, which is convenient.

  5. Flip
    Joke

    "counterfeit items and dodgy goods...

    ...from untrusted online retailers"

    Such as Amazon?

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: "counterfeit items and dodgy goods...

      and eBay

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: "counterfeit items and dodgy goods...

        Watched some consumer programmes on TV recently.

        The number of times that shocked members of the public find themselves with fake goods/insurance policies/etc. they they bought from an advert on FaceBook or on Ebay or whatever.

        Might as well buy from some bloke in a pub, with watches draping the inside of his coat.

        1. Lazlo Woodbine

          Re: "counterfeit items and dodgy goods...

          " they they bought from an advert on FaceBook or on Ebay or whatever."

          Yep, people never learn, was browsing for some USB memory sticks the other day and saw people advertising 2tb (yep 2 terabytes) for less than a tenner. The number of people complaining in the comments was unreal - who the frig actually believes you'll get that kind of storage for under a tenner - "I've lost all my photos..." well maybe copy to a new device rather than move?

  6. Warm Braw Silver badge

    A legitimate company loses revenue

    Which would be a shame, given the amount of money they spent securing the laws that legitimise their behaviour.

    There is a real problem with counterfeit products - insofar as it affects consumer safety. There isn't a real problem with counterfeit products copying overpriced tat.

    When the law works out whose side it's on, the word "legitimate" might have some meaning.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: There isn't a real problem with counterfeit products copying overpriced tat

      Agreed. Someone who knowingly buys counterfeit luxury goods is not someone who would buy the original luxury goods. They don't want to pay the price, so it is not a lost sale.

      And, I would argue, someone buying a luxury item at a vastly reduced price knows exactly what they are buying.

      It's only the person who is willing to pay full price, but gets nabbed by a counterfeit at, say 30% off, who is being harmed and the sale lost for the original company.

      I wonder how often that actually happens ?

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: There isn't a real problem with counterfeit products copying overpriced tat

        This has been a bugbear for decades. When copyright holders say "It's an infringement.It's a crime It dilutes our brand.." fair enough.

        When they equate copied music/games/goods to lost sales, knowing full well that most of those fakes would never have been replaced by the genuine article they need to be told to shut the f*** up. Because it's a lie.

        Or to put it bluntly, if I were to buy a fake Rolex the Rolex company might have many reasons to complain. But losing a genuine sale to me isn't one of them.

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

          Re: There isn't a real problem with counterfeit products copying overpriced tat

          The fact that there's a thriving used market for their products must annoy them no end.

          If I wanted a Rolex, I'd buy a used one for 1/2 the cost. It's a watch. It needs to look good and keep time. My Seikos do that. No sense paying a huge premium for a new one when the used one from a reputable shop looks (and works) identical.

  7. veti Silver badge

    "Upwards of €150,000"?

    Or to put it another way, "upwards of €5 per domain".

    Somehow I think they didn't get all the money. Or maybe they did but they don't want to turn it in...

  8. IGotOut

    Do people have any concept of how the law works.

    Oh they only seized this amount, or that amount. They didn't get XYZ.

    When they make a initial raid / seizure, they only get what is initially available.

    Once they have been arrested, then they can do a lot more digging and apply more more seizures. They can also start applying for "profits of crime" seizures

    Think of it of "we pulled you over for a broken tail light" scenario. They find several bags of weed. This then gives them the right to go for a search of a house. They find more weed, a bundle of cash and several mobile phones. So they seize the phones and then then can go after the contacts....and on and on.

    So in this case the initial seizures and arrests are a way to gather more evidence and go for bigger rewards.

  9. sinsi

    Lost sale?

    "Each time you buy a counterfeit good, a legitimate company loses revenue."

    I could probably scrape together $100 for a fake Rolex but not $100,000 for a real one, so no, you didn't lose any revenue.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Lost sale?

      Right . . . the high-end brand loses its cachet because some plebe is able to sport it despite having only spent $40 (number selected from the same place Gartner gets their "magic quadrant" predictions) instead of $4000 (likewise). In that way, the brand is diluted, a problem which matters not at all to most of us but which is rather essential if you're marketing bits of highly-pressurized carbon to the upper crusties.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Lost sale?

        Right. And this matters because...

        Actually, I can think of one reason - people with too much money need to have something to spend it on. That keeps the money in circulation, which is always a good thing.

        if they didn't waste it on Rolexes and similar premium branded crap, they'd be driving up the prices of things we do care about, like houses and stocks. And that would be bad.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. Dinanziame
            Stop

            Re: Lost sale?

            These are the MANLY watch for the TACTICAL MAN!

            GTFO. This is a comment thread, not free advertising space. Also, I feel insulted being targeted by such moronic marketing statements.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Lost sale? / GTFO

              I think it was sark, only too perfect. Although I'd prefer some more finesse, like the link leading to a hidden cam on on Corbyn-Johnson orgy (ugh), or something...

          2. Khaptain Silver badge

            Re: Lost sale?

            StargateSg7

            I seriously hope that your post was pure sarcasm..it reads as such, but one never knows....

            1. Fatman Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: Lost sale?

              Perhaps the writer forgot his <sarcasm> tags?

        2. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Lost sale?

          "they'd be driving up the prices of things we do care about, like houses"

          At least that hasn't happened eh?

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: Lost sale?

            "they'd be driving up the prices of things we do care about, like houses"

            At least that hasn't happened eh?

            Stocks, while a bit pricey in places, aren't actually bad value at current levels. That isn't to say they won't fall when the global recession hits (20/21 probably), but they'll recover to this level pretty quickly. Personally I'm avoiding UK stocks like the plague at the moment due to political risk, due to uncertainty around the election result which is likely to make for a very volatile December.

          2. veti Silver badge

            Re: Lost sale?

            Hey, it could be worse. Home ownership rates actually increased slightly in the UK last year.

        3. fajensen Silver badge
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: Lost sale?

          Actually, I can think of one reason - people with too much money need to have something to spend it on. That keeps the money in circulation, which is always a good thing.

          Taxes does that too. Far more effectively, I might add.

    2. tp2

      Re: Lost sale?

      fake rolex dealers are unfairly benefiting the marketing efforts of the original company. This kind of "attaching your product to someone elses brand" is illegal. Basically the original rolex company spent millions to make sure they are considered high quality product vendor, and then when they succeed, the leeches who make low quality lookalikes will try to benefit from the huge marketing push they see normal companies to do.

      If you make a competing product, you should ensure that your brand is clearly separate from all the other existing brands. "fake-rolex" doesn't really qualify.

  10. Dazzz

    Maybe they should have a word with Zuck, i've seen quite a few open groups on facebook uploading commercial content for people to watch

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    30,506 domains. They also arrested three people

    presumably, 30,503 people behind the rest of those websites (plus nameless thousands of those website which were not closed down), operate business as usual? ;)

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: 30,506 domains. They also arrested three people

      That's not how the internet works. Why would every site require a unique person or persons behind it? You don't think it's far more likely a few people are setting up multiple sites to maximise sales and minimise takedown chances...?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 30,506 domains. They also arrested three people

        this was a sarky comment about the great success of Europol - 3 arrests. Unless you assume, that arresting those 3 people were responsible for all, or most of those over 30K domains?

        In other words, 3 arrests, 99.99% of others got away with it, busy re-establishing their business. As usual.

  12. RedCardinal

    And how many police officers, resources etc were spent resulting in a whole 3(!) arrests? Wow what a great success! Note that that's "arrests". Presumably the alleged perps haven't actually been convicted yet?

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Ah, I see, so we should only attempt to enforce police actions that result in lots of successful arrests, then?

      So, what you want, really, is some kind of obvious, bang-to-rights, prevalent, cheap crime to occur a lot - something that's low-value, easy to prove, easy to convict, and ordinary people stumble into like idiots all the time.

      Say... Speeding tickets. Parking tickets. Copyright cases. Littering.

      Strangely, all those things that people complain that coppers spend far too long doing rather than actual crimes which often don't result in any arrest at all and when they do result in only a single one at rare intervals. How do you catch a burglar who leaves no forensic evidence? How many people, equipment, services, etc. does it take to collect that forensic evidence and process it to court standards to a conviction? How often would that result in a conviction for, say, breaking a window at enormous expense?

      Or they could, you know, target certain crimes at certain times of the year to keep a handle on a portion of all crimes, all year round, serious and trivial so there's no hiding place

      Don't police by statistics.

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