'Dramatic' decline in pirated films after arrests

woman watching movie on laptop

The amount of new material illegally shared on pirate websites has fallen sharply after three alleged members of a group called Sparks were charged with copyright-infringement conspiracy.

Sparks is a "release group" that allegedly acquires films, music and other digital material before their official release and puts them online.

The US authorities conducted several raids in August.

A week later, the amount of new pirate material released dropped.

Film studios

It decreased from 1,944 new pirated items across all categories in the week before the raids to 168 the week after, news site Torrentfreak reported..

The three men charged with copyright infringement conspiracy were named in legal papers as Umar Ahmad, who lives in Norway, George Bridi from the Isle of Wight, and Jonatan Correa, whose location is not listed.

"The Sparks group has successfully reproduced and disseminated hundreds of movies and television shows prior to their retail release date, including nearly every movie released by major production studios," the US authorities said.

It accuses the group of causing "tens of millions of dollars in losses" to film studios.

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'Achilles heel'

Sparks is believed to be part of a larger, secretive community called The Scene.

"In piracy circles, people regularly bring up the 'hydra,' a mythical multi-headed creature that can easily regenerate when a head is chopped off," Torrentfreak's Ernesto van der Sar said.

"However, last week's busts are also reminiscent of another Greek mythology, Achilles heel."

There was a surge in people seeking out piracy streams at the start of lockdown, earlier this year.

According to Fact, the UK's intellectual property protection organisation, overall links to illegal streaming sites doubled between February and April.

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