A press release from the United States Attorney’s Office District of Connecticut announces that Ziv Hendel has been sentenced to five years of probation for conspiring to commit criminal copyright infringement. Hendel has also been ordered by the District Judge to pay a $5000 fine. Hendel pleaded guilty to this offense.
The ongoing investigation by authorities was titled “Operation Safehaven.” This investigation has been going on for over 15 months and ultimately involved both states and federal authorities. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), the ICE Cyber Crimes Center, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut and the Department of Justice, Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (“CCIPS”). Throughout this investigation, these groups have executed over 20 search warrants nationwide which uncovered thousands of pirated DVDs, CDs, computers, and servers involved in a large scale illegal distribution scheme.
The press release specified that Hendel was an accomplice in what authorities are calling a “warez scene.” A “warez scene” is classified as a large underground community that uses the Internet to engage in illegal distribution of copyrighted materials. These materials range from DVDs, CDs, software, etc.
The “warez scene” operations went forward in an organized fashion for quite some time. “Suppliers”, those who had access to copyrighted materials, were often able to secure copyrighted materials long before they were ever released to the general public. Other participants, “crackers”, used technical expertise to thwart digital copyright protections. Then, various “couriers” distributed the illegal materials to various computer servers through the Internet. From there, individuals have been re-distributing these items for hefty profits.
Hendel, for example, belonged to an online piracy release group called “Farlight.” Hendel provided assistance to a system administrator, and wrote scripts to maintain one of the servers. In exchange for his efforts, Hendel was given access to at least one server that contained nearly $200,000 in illegal copyrighted material.
With all the information on the internet today, copyright violation is a huge problem. It is not only relatively easy for someone to commit copyright violation; it is also very difficult for legal authorities to track and punish those who are participating in these kinds of schemes. This particular case is ongoing as other contributors to the distribution are being discovered. The case is currently being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Edward Chang of the District of Connecticut and Clement J. McGovern from the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Department of Justice.
District of Connecticut United States Attorney’s Office, http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/ct/Press2007/20070720.html