AfterDawn: Tech news

Prominent US legislator applauds seizure of websites by customs

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 23 Jul 2010 5:29 User comments (13)

Prominent US legislator applauds seizure of websites by customs Recently Howard Berman, chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, called a new customs enforcement operation to shut down P2P websites "innovative," and said he is exploring ways to expand it.
He was referring to the seizure of nine domain names last month which kicked off "Operation In Our Sites," an initiative spearheaded by US Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). A number of questions surround the seizures.

The action was announced at a press conference held jointly by ICE head John Morton and representatives of MPAA member studios.

Although the rhetoric about "lost jobs and real hardships for ordinary working people" from piracy has been plentiful, specifics about what crimes were committed by most of the sites have been non-existent. Instead there has been an effort by government officials like Morton and Berman to confuse the issue by conflating unauthorized file sharing with counterfeiting, which seems to be where ICE comes in.

ICE is the agency responsible for dealing with counterfeit goods entering the US from other countries. However their only connection with copyright enforcement is as head of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), which coordinates anti-piracy efforts between a number of Federal law enforcement agencies.

According to a press release issued in conjunction with last month's press conference, the IPR Center "The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. The IPR Center offers assistance for both law enforcement and the private sector to address the growing transnational threat of counterfeit merchandise."

So what exactly does counterfeiting have to do with shutting down these websites? According to the limited details mentioned, nothing whatsoever.

That didn't stop Representative Berman from wondering out loud, "how we can scale Operation “In Our Sites” to enterprises that facilitate the theft of music, books and other products prone to counterfeiting."

The ICE press release gives no real specifics about the alleged crimes committed through the websites. Instead it simply says, "investigators downloaded various newly released movies from the Web sites and their affiliates, to identify those Web sites that were involved in the distribution of stolen content."

While this may make for a nice sound bite, unauthorized distribution of copyrighted content across the internet is not stealing, but rather copyright infringement. It also has nothing to do with counterfeit goods, leaving many wondering why ICE is even involved.

Judging from their careful wording it would appear some of the sites are accused of hosting the infringing content, and therefore distributing it, while others may simply have linked to it.

If that's the case you should expect to see accusations of inducing infringement for links to external content. In fact four highly placed Justice Department officials were quite successful with that very argument while arguing on behalf of the RIAA and MPAA in the Supreme Court in the Grokster case.

In addition to the domain names, assets from bank, PayPal, investment & advertising accounts were also seized. This is no doubt an attempt to cast them as commercial operations; a requirement for criminal infringement.

Previous Next  

13 user comments

123.7.2010 10:40

I expect to get blasted for this comment, but I feel this tactic although dirty, is better than attacking civilians individually for downloading said content. Close the sites responsible for distribution and it lessens the chance of obtaining illegal content. Now a good user wouldn't be affected by this, there are always to get it; however, most users *like single mom's just trying to save a buck for their kids*, won't know where or how to find if the majority of sites easily looked up by search engines are shut down.

The problem with piracy is that it got too mainstream. Take it back to the days where the hardcore ran it and didn't go off bragging about it to friends and family and showing them all how to do it themselves, only for them to pass the info along again. Anyone who's ever pirated is guilty of sharing that information, maybe a small percentage 5% if that are not, and so we all share in the blame for the US fighting piracy this hard.

223.7.2010 11:10

The header is wrong. They didn't "seize" the sites, they redirected DNS to a different page, which they defaced with "this site is illegal" notices.

Vast majority of the sites just got a new TLD and were up within hours of this "seizure".

323.7.2010 12:44

Well if nothing else then it'll keep showing US is fighting a losing battle.

423.7.2010 12:58

Originally posted by Mysttic:
Well if nothing else then it'll keep showing US is fighting a losing battle.
The US is good at that...Iraq, Korea, Viet Nam, War on Drugs...we love fighting loosing battles.

Personally, I am fine with this one...all I have to do to get around it is to use a DNS server that is not controlled by the US government...or I could just use an ip address to access a site directly. I would much rather see the government wasting their time with this than with their normal BS that results in the destruction of innocent lives.

523.7.2010 13:54

This must be why they are doing such a lousy job securing the physical borders...Pirates are worse than terroists and illegal aliens I guess....ROFL!

623.7.2010 13:59

ok lets get to the meat and potatoes of it all.... "Recently Howard Berman, chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, called a new customs enforcement operation to shut down P2P websites "innovative," and said he is exploring ways to expand it." give me a break hey Im all for them getting off the downloaders back but how many people had to explain what they did to him befor he made his statements... god the last one who came out and spoke talked about email was like tubes ... man if I didnt know beter Id thought he was high... listion they wasted all that time and money maybe got a list of ip's but more then likely not. what about the uploader like the dvd quailty products that make it out months before the release date..and what about the sites and thier owners like megadownload or what ever they want to call them selves thease days ... and how far can someone keep you on their list like forever so if you dont change your ip vender or mac address you will get caught someday.... pepole need to think befor they click the button...

723.7.2010 15:36

killer, korea, how is that?

823.7.2010 15:45

Originally posted by KillerBug:
Originally posted by Mysttic:
Well if nothing else then it'll keep showing US is fighting a losing battle.
The US is good at that...Iraq, Korea, Viet Nam, War on Drugs...we love fighting loosing battles.

Personally, I am fine with this one...all I have to do to get around it is to use a DNS server that is not controlled by the US government...or I could just use an ip address to access a site directly. I would much rather see the government wasting their time with this than with their normal BS that results in the destruction of innocent lives.
You mean "losing" right? Not really sure how we can fight a loose battle.

923.7.2010 16:42

Politicians are in the pockets of the media industry obviously .

1023.7.2010 16:52

Recently nonoitall called a new sanity enforcement operation to shut down chairmen of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee "innovative," and said he is exploring ways to expand it.

1124.7.2010 0:19

Originally posted by ddp:
killer, korea, how is that?
Our goal going into the Korean war was to secure a stalemate...we never intended to win, and in the end, we lost worse than anyone could have imagined at the time.

1226.7.2010 21:02

until they bring prices down you wont see me buy anything new games are ridiculous on prices movies 20 a movie and music about the same and if i do buy it i don't want no drm but it can be removed its the thought that counts... so that's why sites like this pop up and people use them.

1326.7.2010 23:57

Lets see if Foreign Affairs Committee go after Google. I doubt it.

Comments have been disabled for this article.

News archive