Feds Seize Domain Names
The talk around the Internet water cooler today has been about the U.S. government’s battle with websites that illegally pirate movies and videos. Yesterday, a press release from the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York’s office detailing the seizure of seven websites –six that stream illegal video and one site which stores the content.
This recent stand is part of a continuing investigation by Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and John T. Morton, the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement – or ICE.
The action was brought against seven websites: tvshack.net, movies-links.tv, zml.com, now-movies.com, thepiratecity.org, planetmoviez.com and filespump.com –however, the seizure order listed only six sites. Though piratecity.com was missing from the seizure order, their domain name is the only one of the seven registered to ICE as of 2 p.m. Thursday.
ICE issued a separate statement yesterday announcing the seizure of two other sites, NinjaVideo.net and NinjaThis.net, who share a domain information guard with planetmoviez.com. Homeland Security Investigations agents also executed residential search warrants in North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, and Washington.
These seizures were the result of a months-long investigations that included undercover investigators who downloaded newly released movies to identify websites involved in the distribution of the pirated content.
The statement from the U.S. attorney’s office said these types of websites cost the U.S. economy an estimated $25.6 billion per year and are destroying an industry that supports over 95,000 small business such as dry cleaners, florists and caterers in addition to the filmmaking industry.
The ICE release quoted Mike Robinson, chief of operations, content protection for the Motion Picture Assosiation of America saying, “Content theft online has become increasingly ubiquitous as technology and software improve and access to the Internet increases.”
He has a point, but increased access and technology aren’t the only tools used to battle these government seizures. According to an article on TorrentFreak.com, two sites named in the warrant moved their operations to new URLs. Both Movies-Links.tv and TVShack.net are found under different names: Watch-Movies-tv.info and TVShack.cc respectively. Both sites are hosted by a former Pirate Bay host.
But don’t expect “Operation In Our Sites” to go quietly. According to ICE it’s not just targeting movies but other counterfeit and illegal item distributed over the Internet such as software, electronics, games and “other products that threaten public health and safety.”
“ICE and out partners at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center have been tracking the proliferation of pirate websites run by people who have no respect for creativity and innovation. We are dedicated to protecting the jobs, the income and the tax revenue that disappear when organized criminals offer stolen movies for their own profit.”