US shuts down 82 counterfeit goods, music sites (Update)

Nov 28, 2010 by Chris Lefkow
Consumers shop online in 2006. US authorities have shut down dozens of websites offering counterfeit goods and pirated music, five months after a crackdown on sites offering movie downloads.

US authorities announced Monday the shutdown of 82 websites selling mostly Chinese-made counterfeit goods, including golf clubs, Walt Disney movies, handbags and other items.

The court-ordered seizure of the domain names of the online retailers was the second phase of a crackdown dubbed "Operation In Our Sites" that began in June with the closure of nine websites offering pirated movies.

"The sale of counterfeit US 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 John Morton, director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

"We are dedicated to protecting the jobs, the income and the tax revenue that disappear when counterfeit goods are trafficked," said Morton, whose agency is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

The ICE director told a press conference here that most of the websites were based in China and shipped products made in China to the United States.

The sites targeted over the past few days include burberryoutletshop.com, cheapscarfshop.com, dvdcollectionsale.com, handbagcom.com, mydreamwatches.com, rapgodfathers.com, sunglasses-mall.com, torrent-finder.com and usaoutlets.net.

The online retailers offered sports equipment, scarves, shoes, handbags, athletic apparel, sunglasses and other items as well as illegal copies of copyrighted DVD boxed sets, music and software.

A visitor to the sites Monday is met with a message reading: "This site has been seized by ICE -- Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court."

It informs visitors that copyright infringement is a federal crime carrying a penalty of five years in prison and a 250,000-dollar fine, while trafficking in counterfeit goods carries a 10-year sentence and a two million dollar fine.

"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," US Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Morton noted the crackdown coincides with "Cyber Monday," the busiest online shopping day of the year in the United States, and just ahead of the Christmas holiday shopping season.

He acknowledged some of the sites will "reappear under different domain names" but said "it's going to take quite some time to generate the traffic that they had before."

As part of the investigation, US agents purchased goods from the sites to determine whether they were counterfeit and obtained seizure orders for the domain names from US magistrate judges, US officials said.

An ICE spokeswoman confirmed the shutdown of the websites to AFP over the weekend but declined to provide any details about the operation.

The crackdown coincided with approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee of a bill that would give US law enforcement even more tools to crack down on websites abroad engaged in piracy of movies, television shows and music.

The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which has the support of the entertainment industry but has been strongly criticized by digital rights and other groups, was approved by a vote of 19-0 last week.

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont who co-sponsored the bill, praised the Obama administration on Monday for its "commitment to aggressively protect American intellectual property."

"We can no longer sit on the sidelines while American intellectual property is stolen and sold online using our own infrastructure," Leahy said.

Explore further: Belarus tightens control over online media

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US Senate committee approves online piracy bill

Nov 18, 2010

The US Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill on Thursday that would give US law enforcement more tools to crack down on websites abroad engaged in piracy of movies, television shows and music.

Feds disable movie piracy websites in raids

Jun 30, 2010

(AP) -- U.S. officials on Wednesday announced a major crackdown on movie piracy that involved disabling nine websites that were offering downloads of pirated movies in some cases hours after they appeared ...

The Pirate Bay back online after fine threat

Aug 25, 2009

The Pirate Bay, one of the world's most popular filesharing websites, was back online on Tuesday after being shut down when a Swedish court threatened its bandwith supplier with a hefty fine.

Recommended for you

Spain: Google News vanishes amid 'Google Tax' spat

Dec 16, 2014

Google on Tuesday followed through with a pledge to shut down Google News in Spain in reaction to a Spanish law requiring news publishers to receive payment for content even if they are willing to give it away.

Brazil: Google fined in Petrobras probe

Dec 15, 2014

A Brazilian court says it has fined Google around $200,000 for refusing to intercept emails needed in a corruption investigation at state-run oil company Petrobras.

Microsoft builds support over Ireland email case

Dec 15, 2014

Microsoft said Monday it had secured broad support from a coalition of influential technology and media firms as it seeks to challenge a US ruling ordering it to hand over emails stored on a server in Ireland.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.