On June 30th, U.S. authorities executed seizure warrants against nine domain names of web sites that were providing first-run movies. Assets of 15 bank, Paypal, investment and advertising accounts were also seized. And, four residential search warrants were executed.
This is a significant development - seizing web sites that are (allegedly) exploiting the copyrighted property of others. So, what would happen if this emerging willingness to defend the copyrighted value of high-cost movies were applied equally to low-cost photos?
Almost every web site uses images. Some estimates say there are 100 stolen images for every one that is legitimately licensed. What would happen if the search engines, Internet Service Providers and device manufacturers who are making countless profits by enabling access to stolen Intellectual Property ... what if they could seriously risk losing their domains as a result of distributing copyrighted images without authorization? The answer is that many billions of dollars would shift back to image creators and rights holders.
The domain seizures are part of "Operation In Our Sites," a new initiative by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) that is aimed at countering Internet counterfeiting and piracy.
"ICE and our partners at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center are targeting pirate Web sites run by people who have no respect for creativity and innovation," said ICE Assistant Secretary Morton, who was in Southern California to meet with the leaders of the movie industry. "We are dedicated to protecting the jobs, the income and the tax revenue that disappear when organized criminals traffic in stolen movies for their own profit."
"Criminal copyright infringement occurs on a massive scale over the Internet, reportedly resulting in billions of dollars in losses to the U.S. economy," said Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, whose office handled the seizure warrants of seven domain names Wednesday. "That translates into lost jobs and real hardships for ordinary working people. That's why we took the actions we did. If your business model is movie piracy, your story will not have a happy ending."
Click here to read the full report by government agencies entitled, "'Operation In Our Sites' targets Internet movie pirates ICE, Manhattan U.S. Attorney seize multiple Web sites for criminal copyright violations".