Stuart Freen is a JD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School
The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency confirmed on Monday that it seized 82 domain names belonging to websites that were allegedly trading in pirated and counterfeit goods. The agency claims this is only an intermediate step in a larger ongoing project dubbed “Operation In Our Sites”. The announcement was timed to coincide with "Cyber Monday", the online equivalent of Black Friday and one of the busiest online shopping days of the year.
The majority of the seized domain names, including “dvdsuperdeal.com”, “thelouisvuittonoutlet.com” and “nfljerseysupply.com” appear to have been in the business of selling counterfeit DVDs and luxury clothing. Interestingly, although ICE promoted the seizures in tandem with the MPAA, the takedowns largely seem to be focussed on counterfeiting rather than file sharing.
As the New York Times notes, the takedowns come as a related bill is working its way through Congress. The Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act could potentially make it much easier for government agencies to orchestrate seizures in the future by allowing law enforcement to obtain injunctive relief against any domain name “dedicated to infringing activities.”
In related news, three of the four founders of the notorious bit torrent site the Pirate Bay lost their appeal in Swedish court on Friday. Nevertheless, the site appears to still be online, though it no longer hosts any torrent files itself.