updated 03:30 pm EST, Fri November 25, 2011
DOJ, ICE seize 131 domains thanks to SOPA bill
The Department of Justice, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, have swung into a major anti-piracy campaign after they seized 131 domain names, TorrentFreak learned. The sites are believed to sell, host and/or share pirated content, but the seizures can be appealed. The seizures were part of an official Operation In Out Sites crackdown, the largest such operation to date.
Authorities haven't yet officially commented on these seizures. Key differences compared to last year include that the new sites directly charge visitors for services. There is one counterfeit clothing company and another that sells pirated auto software. Also, no movie or music download sites were targeted this time around.
About this time last year, ICE took over 82 domains for the same reasons.
"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," said Attorney General Eric Holder back in 2010.
Such seizures could become more aggressive if the SOPA bill passes. Under the terms, the media companies themselves could ask for sites to be blacklisted, even if illegal content is a minority or even strictly incidental part of the page. Major technology firms and even the bill's main sponsor, Republican Lamar Smith, have questioned the bill as possibly being too broad and compromising Internet security.