Major Euro raid targets pirate 'release groups'

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MUNICH -- In an enormous raid spanning two European countries and involving 200 officers, police throughout Germany and France swept through 50 apartments and office buildings early Thursday morning in a bid to crush 14 so-called "release groups" that distribute pirated films, TV series and games over the Internet.

Germany's GVU, an organization that investigates intellectual property violations, said in a statement that at least 100 software titles as well as about 200 films were in the illegal distribution network. The pirates were exceptionally professional with their stolen movies, they said, taking English-language versions not yet released in Germany and dubbing them themselves.

Evidence seized included about 60 PCs, several hard drives, 2,000 DVDs and CDs as well as servers, the GVU said.

The GVU has followed the strategy of pursuing and raiding well-organized entertainment content pirates for several years, and Thursday's raid was one in a string of large-scale successes.

"This proves once more the correctness of our strategy in concentrating on the tip of the illegal distribution pyramid," GVU chairman Christian Sommer said. "Today's raid will have a decisive impact on the release group scene, where pirated copies are first created."

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