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Over 70 sites targeted by America’s anti-piracy crackdown

By | Published on Tuesday 30 November 2010

Over 70 American websites were taken offline late last week as part of an anti-piracy push by Immigration & Customs Enforcement, a division of the US Department Of Homeland Security.

As previously reported, we already knew that three music sites – RapGodFathers, OnSmash and Dajaz1 – which primarily linked to audio content on other sites, most of it unlicensed, were hit by the ICE offensive. The federal authority took over ownership of the offending websites’ domain names and pointed users to copyright enforcement notices.

But, according to Torrentfreak, over 70 sites allegedly involved in piracy were targeted in total. Although some, like RapGodFathers, provided links to copyright infringing digital content, most sold bootleg DVDs and other counterfeit goods, and it seems to be those more commercial and physical-product-based kinds of intellectual property violation that this campaign was attempting to quash, rather than file-sharing. Even though RapGodFathers, it would seem, was mainly linking to free mixtapes released by MCs and hip hop producers as promotional tools, while another targeted site,, is a simple torrent search service.

Although initially quiet on the action, ICE yesterday issued a press release revealing its actions were timed to coincide with one of the American internet’s busiest online shopping weekends, coming after the big post-Thanksgiving shopping day that is Black Friday.

ICE Director John Morton told reporters: “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. 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”.

Attorney General Eric Holder added: “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. 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”.

Although sites which assist in illegal file-sharing do seem to have been periphery and possibly mistaken targets in this round of piracy fighting, as previously reported proposals are currently being considered in US Congress which would give the country’s Department Of Justice power to act over websites that exists primarily to enable copyright infringement, replacing the need for costly and drawn out litigation like that used by the record and movie industries to target the likes of Napster, Grokster, Kazaa and LimeWire over the years.