The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently seized a number of website domains that were purported to contain pirated or counterfeited products. The seized domains, like http://www.torrent-finder.com, now display the following message:
“This domain name has been seized by ICE — Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court under the authority of 18 U.S.C §§ 981 and 2323.”
Chapter 18 U.S.C §981 and §2323 both govern civil forfeiture. Other sites that were targeted include onsmash.com, rapgodfathers.com, dajaz1.com, burberryoutletshop.com, cheapscarfshop.com, dvdcollectionsale.com, handbagcom.com, mydreamwatches.com, sunglasses-mall.com, and usaoutlets.net.
The message from ICE that is now displayed on the seized domain names warns about the penalties for willful copyright infringement and knowingly trafficking counterfeit goods, and it cites the pertinent United States Code sections. The laws governing punishment for copyright infringement include 17 U.S.C. § 506, criminal offenses, and 18 U.S.C § 2319, criminal infringement of copyright. The law governing punishment for trafficking in counterfeits is 18 U.S.C § 2320, trafficking in counterfeit goods or services.
ICE performed a similar domain name seizure in June as part of “Operation in Our Sites,” an initiative against Internet counterfeiting and piracy. A spokeswoman for ICE would not comment [Insert link] on whether the recent domain seizures were also part of the Operation.
The recent domain seizures coincide with the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act making its way through Congress. The bill, which was approved by the Senate, would allow the government to shut down sites that are “dedicated to infringing activities.” All of these developments reflect the U.S. government’s current focus on keeping America’s biggest export–intellectual property–safe and profitable, especially in the current economic climate.
For more information on the recent domain seizures, see the following stories: