German police say they have dealt a major blow to one of the country's top online piracy groups following a series of coordinated raids in several major cities.


COLOGNE, Germany (The Hollywood Reporter) -- German police say they have dealt a major blow to one of the country's top online piracy groups following a series of coordinated raids in several major cities.

Divisions of the Frankfurt police raided 10 separate locations the week of April 18, seizing information linked to online file-sharing group Flatline. The group is the No. 1 source of German-dubbed, pirated movies on the Internet, authorities said.

According to police, Flatline, which was set up last year, acquires top-quality video material of new theatrical releases from the United States and then adds German audio tracks sourced from local cinemas. Releases are put out on the Internet or burned onto pirate DVDs, often before the films' local rollout. Hollywood titles that have shown up on the Flatline network include "Hitch," "Robots," "The Ring Two" and "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous."

In the April 20 raids, police searched two local cinemas as well as the home of a cinema manager, finding what they said was evidence the pirates had tapped into an audio feed from one of the cinemas' projection rooms.