Czech police assist in international bust of movie pirates, seize 90 terabytes of data

Members of the Sparks Group, currently under prosecution in the US, allegedly stored copyrighted material at Czech academic institutions


Written by ČTK
Published on 07.09.2020 14:30 (updated on 07.09.2020)

Prague, Sept 7 (CTK) – Czech Police took part in an international operation against Sparks Group, an organised group whose illegal distribution of films caused damages estimated to be least 10 million dollars to film studios, Czech Centre Against Organised Crime (NCOZ) spokesman Jaroslav Ibehej told CTK today.

He said police specialists in cyber crimes unit seized 90 terabytes of data on computer storage sites used by the gang in late August.

“Three persons have been accused of copyright crime. The criminal proceedings are underway in the USA,” Ibehej said.

Police from 18 countries, supported by Eurojust and Europol, switched out dozens of servers across the world on which the gang controlled and illegally stored copyright-protected films.

“In the Czech Republic, NCOZ specialists intervened at two places (on academic soil), where the pirated recordings were stored by Sparks Group secretly and without the knowledge of the relevant institutions,” Ibehej said.

On August 25, the NCOZ intervened after an official request for legal help was addressed to Prague by the U.S. Department of Justice. The operation involved regional state attorneys’ offices and courts.

Sparks Group is suspected of using special software to make illegal DVD and Blu-Ray disc copies and place them on the storage sites before the works officially appeared on the market.

The gang then made the illegally-obtained films accessible via peer-to-peer networks, streaming services, and torrent sites, Ibehej said.