Feds seize domain names in mass crackdown

The US Federal government has seized 150 domain names of commercial websites allegedly engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods or copyrighted works.

The seizures – which were executed under the Operation In Our Sites – involved multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Justice, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center).

Federal law enforcement agents kicked off the latest round of seizures by first making undercover purchases of a variety of counterfeit products, such as professional sports jerseys, golf equipment, DVD sets, footwear, handbags and sunglasses.

“Through this operation we are aggressively targeting those who are selling counterfeit goods for their own personal gain while costing our economy much-needed revenue and jobs,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. 

“Intellectual property crimes harm businesses and consumers, alike, threatening economic opportunity and financial stability, and today we have sent a clear message that the Department will remain ever vigilant in protecting the public’s economic welfare and public safety through robust intellectual property enforcement.” 

The 150 affected domains are currently in the custody of the federal government, while visitors to the sites are greeted by a banner informing the public that willful copyright infringement is a federal crime.

The latest round of seizures marks the eighth phase of Operation In Our Sites, the timing of which often coincides with Cyber Monday.

Since the operation’s controversial June 2010 launch, the IPR Center has seized a total of 350 domain names, with the seizure banners receiving more than 77 million individual views. Of the 350 domain names, 116 have now been forfeited to the US government.