The US Government said Wednesday that it had executed 32 search warrants in 16 states as part of a crackdown on devices and chips which allow pirated games to be played on gaming consoles.
Government officials say the targets of the raids were company's that produce devices to circumvent copyright protections on Sony's PlayStation 2, Microsoft's Xbox and Xbox 360, and Nintendo's Wii, among others. The industry claims these chips cause billions of dollars in lost revenue each year.
The raids were the largest of their kind to to date, and were the result of investigations by the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office in Cleveland, Ohio. ICE says that in 2006, seizures of pirated works increased by 83 percent.
"Illicit devices like the ones targeted today are created with one purpose in mind, subverting copyright protections," ICE Homeland Security assistant secretary Julie Myers said. "These crimes cost legitimate businesses billions of dollars annually and facilitate multiple other layers of criminality, such as smuggling, software piracy and money laundering."
Counterfeiting and piracy in general is said to cost the US economy somewhere between $200 and $250 billion per year and has resulted in the loss of 750,000 jobs according to US Chamber of Commerce statistics.
ICE said it could not release more details on those involved or further details on the case at the current time.
In its own statement, Microsoft voiced its support for ICE's actions. "Microsoft applauds ICE for its effort to reduce piracy and protect the intellectual property of Microsoft and its industry partners," it said.
"This is an important step in the continuing fight against piracy and the threat it presents to the global economy and consumers throughout the world."US, U.S. Games, Gaming, Video Console, Video Games, Piracy, Pirated Games