U.S. officials on Wednesday announced a major crackdown on movie piracy that involved seizing several websites that were offering downloads of pirated movies just hours after they appeared in theaters.
Officials also seized assets from 15 bank, investment and advertising accounts, and executed residential search warrants in North Carolina, New Jersey, New York and Washington.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials worked with the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
The raids were the first actions in a new initiative to combat Internet counterfeiting and piracy called “Operation In Our Sites.”
The nine websites that were seized include TVShack.net, PlanetMoviez.com, ThePirateCity.org and Movies-Links.TV.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said money lost because of copyright infringement translates into lost jobs.
“That’s why we took the actions that we did,” Bharara said in a statement. “If your business model is movie piracy, your story will not have a happy ending.”