By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The U.S. film industry on Friday hailed a raid by Swedish police against an Internet service provider as a major blow to European piracy of movies and music on the Web.
The raid was carried out on Thursday at the Stockholm offices of Bahnhof, Sweden's oldest and largest ISP, which U.S. copyright protection experts have considered a haven for high-level Internet piracy for years.
"This was a very big raid," said John Malcolm, worldwide anti-piracy operations director at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which represents Hollywood's major studios.
"The material that was seized contained not only evidence of a piracy organization operating in Sweden but of online piracy organizations operating throughout all of Europe," he told Reuters.
Bahnhof, the first major ISP raided by the Swedes without advance notice, was home to some of the biggest and fastest servers in Europe, the MPAA said in a statement.
Authorities in Sweden seized four computer servers -- one reputed to be the biggest pirate server in Europe -- containing enough digital film and music content for up to 3-1/2 years of uninterrupted play, the organization said.
Malcolm said authorities in Scandinavian countries had been reluctant to take such action in the past but were recently cracking down on piracy. About 20 individuals suspected of Internet piracy have been the targets of smaller raids by Swedish authorities during the past month.
The servers seized during the operation contained a total of 1,800 digital movie files, 5,000 software application files and 450,000 digital audio files -- amounting to 23 terabytes of data.
The MPAA says the film industry loses $3.5 billion a year to videotapes and DVDs sold on the black market, but it has no estimate for how much Internet piracy costs the industry.
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