US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has ordered the seizure of 82 domain names of websites they say are engaged in the “illegal sale of counterfeit foods and copyrighted works.”
Federal authorities said the sites were selling counterfeit sports equipment, shoes, handbags, athletic apparel and sunglasses as well as illegal copies of copyrighted DVD boxed sets, music and software.
“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 John 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.”
“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 Eric 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.”
But the practice does call into question the government’s use of power and ownership over top-level domain names and some rights groups have questioned the practice.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said most of the domains were owned by people or businesses located overseas.