Over the holiday weekend, FMQB reported that the U.S. Government had shut down a number of website domains that direct to illegal file-sharing torrents. Now U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton have announced operation "In Our Sites v. 2.0," a sweeping intellectual property enforcement initiative targeting "online retailers of a diverse array of counterfeit goods, including sports equipment, shoes, handbags, athletic apparel and sunglasses as well as illegal copies of copyrighted DVD boxed sets, music and software."
The Department Of Justice announced this morning that "Seizure orders have been executed against 82 domain names of commercial websites engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and copyrighted works as part of Operation In Our Sites v. 2.0."
"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 Attorney General Holder. "Intellectual property crimes are not victimless. The theft of ideas and the sale of counterfeit goods threaten economic opportunities and financial stability, suppress innovation and destroy jobs. The Justice Department, with the help of our law enforcement partners, is changing the perception that these crimes are risk-free with enforcement actions like the one announced today."
"The sale of counterfeit U.S. brands on the Internet steals the creative work of others, costs our economy jobs and revenue and can threaten the health and safety of American consumers," said ICE Director Morton. "The protection of intellectual property is a top priority for Homeland Security Investigations and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center. We are dedicated to protecting the jobs, the income and the tax revenue that disappear when counterfeit goods are trafficked."
Music industry groups have applauded these new government efforts. RIAA Chairman/CEO Mitch Bainwol, released a statement saying, "Federal law enforcement authorities have now hung a ‘closed for business’ sign on some of the most notorious music websites that were havens for copyright theft. No anti-piracy initiative is a silver bullet, but targeted government enforcement against the worst of the worst rogue sites sends a strong message that illegally trafficking in creative works carries real consequences and won’t be tolerated. This also makes clear that a priority of this Administration is protecting American jobs and property rights. On this day shortly after we celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday, the Obama Administration, led by Director Morton, Attorney General Holder and a team of prosecutors, have given the music community much to be thankful for."
"This initiative demonstrates that federal prosecutors can deploy the government’s legal tools with careful and calibrated discretion. Just as in the physical world, prosecutors and courts know how to assess evidence and distinguish between legitimate businesses and those that flout the law. To those who may question this initiative -- who seemingly prefer chaos on the Internet to the rule of law -- I urge you to come forward with viable and effective mechanisms to contain the theft that is not only wrong, but devastating to America's artists and creative industries. The answer simply can’t be ‘do nothing.’"
The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) has also released a statement, saying that "A2IM applauds the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations division seizure of website addresses known for either hosting unauthorized music or films or allowing web searches for unauthorized music and films elsewhere on the Internet."
The organization added, "Now is a critical time for us to speak up. Intellectual property has never been more vital to our national economy and job creation, especially given the state of the manufacturing and service industries in our country. We need to support and protect the creators of intellectual property, and those that invest in that creation, from websites that traffic in music without the permission or approval of the creators of the music, or any compensation to them for their work and investment."