Nov. 5 (UPI) -- U.S. law enforcement officers have assisted Brazil to takedown piracy sites that have caused U.S. media companies to incur millions of dollars in losses, the Justice Department said.
In a release, the Justice Department said the United States assisted Brazilian law enforcement on Thursday to take down digital piracy websites under Operation 404, named after the HTTP protocol response code that is often returned when a website is no longer available.
The operation, led by Brazil's Secretariat of Integrated Operations at its Ministry of Justice, targeted Internet websites and smartphone applications that illegally reproduced and distributed television shows and movies, resulting in the seizure of three U.S.-based domains that offered thousands of pirated media to Brazilians, it said.
"By seizing these domain names, law enforcement has disrupted the unlawful reproduction and distribution of thousands of pirated television shows and movies, while also cutting off the profits to unlawful actors willing to exploit the hard work of others for their own personal gain," Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbit of the Justice Department's Criminal Division said.
Brazil's Ministry of Justice said in a statement that this was phase two of the operation whose first phase began in November 2019 when its law enforcement executed 30 search and seizure warrants, resulting in taking down 210 websites.
The ministry said under phase two, 25 search and seizure warrants were conducted in 10 states, resulting in the suspension of 252 sites.
The U.S. Justice Department said the three U.S.-based domains are in federal government custody and visitors to the sites will be greeted with a seizure banner educating them that "willful copyright infringement is a federal crime."
"Illegal streaming is not a victimless crime. It harms the content creators of the shows that you know and love, and feeds a criminal enterprise whose profits support organized criminal endeavors," said Derek Benner, executive associate director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.
The announcement came a day after the Justice Department announced that it had seized $24 million in virtual currency on behalf of the Brazilian government.
Brazil had asked the United States to seize the funds as part of providing assistance in its efforts to disrupt a large cryptocurrency fraud scheme that authorities estimate defrauded tens of thousands of Brazilians of more than $200 million.