The US federal government continues to seize domains of sites allegedly involved in counterfeiting and piracy, but there are only questions now surrounding this strong effort.
If you sell pirated material, they are coming for you:
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has become more involved in seizing counterfeit goods, and is able to easily secure court-approved warrants for its activities. Adding the federal agency into the fight against counterfeit goods has been a wise choice, because it offers a new method to crack down against counterfeiters.
ICE’s involvement allows for domain and asset seizures without notification of domain holders — a drastic difference than the slow civil procedures currently utilized by companies looking to recover lost revenue. ICE also can help during physical raids and seizures of goods. In September, after being informed of the investigation, Florida police worked with ICE to crackdown on counterfeit/pirated goods being sold at a local flea market.
As part of “Operation In Our Sites II,” ICE and other federal undercover agents purchased items from online retailers. After an item was found to be fake, the feds sent domain name seizure orders while also taking assets.
To date, 82 domains have been seized after being accused of selling counterfeit goods, with products sold ranging from music, DVD box sets and software to clothing and sporting goods.
“By seizing these domain names, we have disrupted the sale of thousands of counterfeit items, while also cutting off funds to those willing to exploit the ingenuity of others for their own personal gain,” said Eric Holder, US Attorney General Eric Holder, in a public statement.
As the DMCA continues to plague users in the United States, many pirates operating overseas are able to operate with very little punishment. The Pirate Bay has received numerous legal and monetary punishments by the Swedish government, but piracy runs rampant in other regions.
After President Obama filled his staff with former RIAA executives, there was immediate concern that the fight on piracy would get interesting. His administration has spoken out against piracy while speaking of copyright reform. Since then, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) bill has been widely seen as an intrusive way for the government to censor the Internet.