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Italian police shut down piracy ring

Raids on a huge software piracy ring result in the arrest of 181 people and in the recovery of almost $140 million in copied products from Microsoft, Adobe Systems and others.

A huge Internet piracy ring has been shut down in a police operation that resulted in the arrest of 181 people.

The sting also resulted in the recovery of pirated software worth about 118 million euros ($139.5 million)--one of the biggest single hauls ever.

The raids were part of "Operation Mouse" and were carried out in Italy by the Guardia di Finanza, Italy's financial police force. The operation was supported by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an antipiracy organization whose members include Microsoft, Adobe Systems and Cisco Systems.

Beth Scott, a vice president at the Business Software Alliance, said, "This case proves the very real threat from increasingly sophisticated piracy gangs which use the Internet to market themselves."

"BSA's Internet enforcement program works alongside many European law enforcement agencies such as Guardia di Finanza, providing its Internet investigatory expertise to help promote a safe and legal digital world," she said. "Strong enforcement deterrents play a vital role alongside educational efforts in fighting the issue of cybercrime."

Goods seized in the raids included thousands of illegal copies of software, music and films, plus PCs, CD/DVD writers and video recorders.

Much of the pirated software was from major manufacturers and included products from Adobe, Apple Computer, Macromedia, Microsoft and Symantec.

The piracy network used e-mail and illegal Web sites to market itself and distributed goods via mail order. During the investigation, 12 Web sites and 28 e-mail accounts were monitored and intercepted. Two Web sites are now under restraint.

More than 10,000 people are still being investigated in the ongoing antipiracy operation.

Silicon.com's Will Sturgeon reported from London.