California Piracy Ring Busted, 3 Arrested

California Piracy Ring Busted, 3 Arrested

"How I Met Your Mother" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" are among the more than 1,000 titles allegedly pirated

Three men in the Bay Area of California have been arrested for allegedly pirating more than 1,000 movie and television titles, including "How I Met Your Mother," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" and "Black Swan," California attorney general Kamala Harris' office said Friday.

Brothers Hop, Tony and Huynh Hoang — 26, 23 and 20, respectively — were arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court on Thursday for allegedly operating the website mediamp4.com, which the attorney general's office says allowed users to illegally stream more than 1,000 titles via computers and mobile devices. The trio has been charged with one count of conspiracy, four counts of receiving stolen property and one count of grand theft.

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The investigation into the piracy began with the Motion Picture Association of America, which looked into iphonetvshows.net and movieiphone.net. The MPAA sent a cease-and desist letter to Tony Hoang. However, the attorney general's office alleges, Hoang and his siblings merely resumed operations under the mediamp4.com banner. The attorney general's office subsequently launched its own investigation, executing a search warrant and seizing property allegedly used in connection with the operation.

According to the attorney general's office, the Hoang brothers took in about $150,000 in advertising revenue from operating the site.

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Harris said the bust "sends a clear message that the California Department of Justice will investigate digital piracy and prosecute violators to the fullest extent of the law."

"The MPAA deeply appreciates the leadership of Attorney General Harris and her office in helping to combat websites that illegally profit from the creative content produced by the men and women of the American movie and television community," MPAA CEO and chairman Chris Dodd said. "There are now nearly 80 legal online services in the United States dedicated to providing movies and television shows to viewers.  But to realize the enormous potential of these businesses and ensure an Internet that works for everyone, it is critical that government, content creators, the tech community and others work together to stop illegal rogue sites."

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.