US Government Seize 18 More Websites

The U.S. government seized 18 more internet domains Monday, bringing to at least 119 the number of seizures following the June commencement of the so-called “Operation in Our Sites” anti-piracy program.

“These counterfeits represent a triple threat by delivering shoddy, and sometimes dangerous, goods into commerce, by funding organized criminal activities and by denying Americans good-paying jobs.”

John Morton

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement seizure, in honor of Valentine’s Day, targeted sites hawking big-name brands like Prada and Tiffany & Co.

Customs agents had bought counterfeit bracelets, earrings, handbags, necklaces, rings, sunglasses, wallets and watches with “brand names” from Burberry to Nike and Timberland, the government says.

“These counterfeits represent a triple threat by delivering shoddy, and sometimes dangerous, goods into commerce, by funding organized criminal activities and by denying Americans good-paying jobs. HSI and our partners at the IPR Center will continue to work together to keep counterfeit products off our streets,” ICE Director John Morton says in a statement, according to wired.com.

The seizures are based on the same law the government invokes to seize brick-and-mortar drug houses, for example.

When it comes to internet domain seizures, the US government has jurisdiction over top-level domains such as .com, .org and .net.

The latest seizures, which were done without advance warning to the sites, came nearly two weeks after the government seized 10 domains connected to pirating professional sports video streams.

Preet Bharara, the Manhattan US attorney, blamed such sports broadcasting piracy for “raising prices for tickets and pay-per-view events.”

Meanwhile, in November, the federal government targeted 82 websites, many bartering in counterfeited goods like scarves and golfing gear.

In June, when the seizure program was announced, the government took down nine sites that distributed pirated motion pictures.

Well, this is just getting more interesting by the day…

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