First of all, I don’t condone or practice selling any copyrighted or counterfeit material online and I do think there needs to be a better system in place to ensure the consumer is confident when doing their virtual shopping. This is odd though, even after the COICA bill was stopped in congress, the Feds began seizing websites under the name of the asset forfeiture laws. How long have these asset forfeiture laws been around? For years, law enforcement in the U.S. has been invoking this law to seize drug houses, bust money laundering schemes and even take down computer hackers.
As I’ve been digesting all of the news from the last couple days about the seizure of domains that aid the sale of counterfeit goods or assist with digital piracy it didn’t hit me until last night when I was watching local news coverage of this story why all of this has come about in the last week – coincidentally during the same time period when Americans are expected to do the most spending during the whole year.
That’s it take down 82 websites and make huge worldwide headlines about how tough we are on cyber criminals. Re-assure Americans with these grandiose headlines of stopping online fraud that it’s safe to shop, shop, shop! Eighty two sites may seem like a lot to the average Joe, but how many thousand of the same kinds of sites still exist? Are they going to go after all of them? What’s the name of the commission that is in charge of cleaning up all the sites that sell counterfeit/pirated material? When will the next handful of domains be seized and sites taken down?
Below is a snapshot/link to a site that has been seized. The site mentions it has used the authority from 18 U.S.C. 981 and 18 U.S.C. 2323. Basically these laws state that property is subject to seizure by the government if it is being used wilfully as a means of copyright infringement. Section 981b defines the rules the Feds need should follow to get court approval for the seizures, which are similar to those of obtaining a warrant for arrest.