Tag Archives: usa

Policy Reviews Underway For .AU and .US

Reviews are underway for both .au, to review dispute resolution policy, and .us, for the policies and requirements for the contract renewal that is due to take place later in 2013.

In .au, auDA has a consultation of the the Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP) underway, and for which the comment period has been extended to 28 February. The goal of the auDRP is to provide a cheaper, speedier alternative to litigation for the resolution of disputes between the registrant of a .au domain name and a party with competing rights in the domain name.

The auDRP commenced on 1 August 2002 and there have been 300 proceedings lodged to date. A ten year review of the auDRP is currently underway to ensure that it remains an effective and appropriate dispute resolution mechanism.

An Issues Paper, available here, was released in November 2012 for public comment.

For .us, the NTIA who administers the contract for ccTLD for the United States is seeking input from interested parties on the policies and requirements that should govern the .us TLD.

The current contract expires on 31 August, 2013. The NTIA has advised that given the expiration date of this contract, the NTIA will utilise the comments received in response to their call for comments in the procurement process leading to the award of a new .us TLD contract.

Comments are due by 4 March, 2013.

More information is available from the NTIA website here.

Preditable WCIT Outcome Sees US Lead Objections To ITU’s Internet Governance Changes

It was the most likely outcome. Predictable even. But the US led a walkout of delegates from mostly western countries at the conclusion of the 12 day World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai yesterday, saying they were unable to agree to any changes in internet governance.

Changes proposed would have impacted on roles such as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority’s role in being responsible for the operation and maintenance of a number of key aspects of the domain name system (DNS).

The US delegate to the WCIT announced that the “US must communicate that it is not able to sign the agreement in the current form.”

We candidly cannot support an ITU treaty that is inconsistent with a multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance. As the ITU has stated, this conference was never meant to focus on internet issues; however, today we are in a situation where we still have text and resolutions that cover issues on spam and also provisions on internet governance.

In a statement delivered from the floor of the conference, Ambassador Terry Kramer went on to say the US “cannot support an ITU treaty that is inconsistent with a multi-stakeholder model of internet governance. As the ITU has stated, this conference was never meant to focus on internet issues; however, today we are in a situation where we still have text and resolutions that cover issues on spam and also provisions on internet governance. These past two weeks, we have of course made good progress and shown a willingness to negotiate on a variety of telecommunications policy issues, such as roaming and settlement rates, but the United States continues to believe that internet policy must be multi-stakeholder driven. Internet policy should not be determined by member states but by citizens, communities, and broader society, and such consultation from the private sector and civil society is paramount. This has not happened here.”

The position was supported by a wide range of mostly western countries, with the US, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Egypt, Canada, Poland, Qatar and Kenya all objecting to the changes and not being in a position of not being able to sign the treaty as planned on Friday.

But the changes that will be agreed upon by a range of countries, mostly in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, could mean the internet develops differently in different regions.

On Wednesday night a “non-binding resolution was debated which suggested the UN agency’s leadership should ‘continue to take the necessary steps for ITU to play an active and constructive role in the development of broadband and the multi-stakeholder model of the internet,’” reported BBC News.

This was opposed by the US and European governments.

While the treaty is due to be signed at 13:30 GMT on Friday, it was predictable that western countries, led by the US would object to any changes to internet governance as they had been resolute at the outset there were certain changes they would not countenance.

For more information, see the news reports below.

US, UK and Canada refuse to sign UN’s internet treaty
www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20717774

Talks on Internet treaty fail as U.S. bloc won’t sign
in.reuters.com/article/2012/12/14/telecom-treaty-us-idINDEE8BC0FU20121214

U.N. summit implodes as U.S., others spurn Internet treaty
news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57559034-38/u.n-summit-implodes-as-u.s-others-spurn-internet-treaty/

U.S. Intervention at the World Conference on International Telecommunications: statement delivered by Ambassador Terry Kramer from the floor of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) on December 13, 2012 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/12/202037.htm

WCIT Split After Split “Vote” On Internet Governance Resolution
www.ip-watch.org/2012/12/13/wcit-split-after-split-vote-on-internet-governance-resolution/

Internet humbles UN telecoms agency
news.dot-nxt.com/2012/12/14/internet-humbles-un-telecoms-a

Why the ITU is the wrong place to set Internet standards
arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/12/why-the-itu-is-the-wrong-place-to-set-internet-standards/

U.S. Snubs U.N. Telecom Treaty With Rest Of West At Dubai Conference [AP]
www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/13/us-un-telecom-treaty_n_2296442.html

The Masters of the Internet by Timothy Karr, Campaign Director, Free Press and SavetheInternet.com
www.huffingtonpost.com/timothy-karr/the-masters-of-the-intern_b_2291855.html

European And US Law Enforcement Agencies Seize 132 Domains Selling Counterfeit Merchandise

European and US law enforcement agencies have taken action against domain names involved in the selling of counterfeit goods, seizing 133 domains, arresting one person in the US and seizing $175,000.The 133 domain names seized are part of Project Cyber Monday, an iteration of Operation In Our Sites, which is coordinated by the US law enforcement bodies.The latest operation targeted websites that duped consumers into unknowingly buying counterfeit goods as part of the holiday shopping season. The operation was coordinated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington, D.C. for the US and the European Police Office (Europol) in Europe.In addition to seizing domain names with a top-level domain (TLD) controlled by US registries, the IPR Center partnered with Europol to execute coordinated seizures of mostly European-based TLDs such as .be, .eu, .dk, .fr, .ro, and .uk. This effort is titled Project Transatlantic.During this operation, federal US law enforcement officers made undercover purchases of a host of products including professional sports jerseys, DVD sets, cologne, and a variety of clothing, jewellery and luxury goods from online retailers who were suspected of selling counterfeit products. If the copyright holders confirmed that the purchased products were counterfeit or otherwise illegal, seizure orders for the domain names of the websites that sold the goods were obtained from federal magistrate judges.”This operation is a great example of the tremendous cooperation between ICE and our international partners at the IPR Center,” says ICE Director John Morton. “That partnership enables us to go after criminals who are duping unsuspecting shoppers all over the world. This is not an American problem, it is a global one and it is a fight we must win.”The IPR Center and Europol received leads from various trademark holders regarding the infringing websites. Those leads were disseminated to ten investigating HSI field offices in Baltimore, Denver, El Paso, Houston, Newark, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Paul, Buffalo, and Ventura (Ca) and to the investigating Europol member countries including Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom.”Europol became member of the Intellectual Property Right Coordination Center (IPR Center) this year and I am glad to be able to announce these operational successes. IPR theft is not a harmless or victimless crime. It can cause serious health and safety risks and it undermines our economy,” says Mr Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.The domain names are now in the custody of the respective governments of the participating countries. Visitors typing those domain names into their web browsers will now find a banner that notifies them of the seizure and educates them about the federal crime of willful copyright infringement.In addition to the domain name seizures, Cyber Monday 3 identified PayPal accounts utilised by the infringing websites. Proceeds received through the identified PayPal accounts are currently being targeted for seizure by the investigating HSI field offices.”We couldn’t be more pleased with the opportunity to work closely with HSI to shut down criminals targeting our customers and our brand just as the holiday season takes off,” said Tod Cohen, Government Relations for eBay Inc. “PayPal and eBay Inc. pride ourselves in going above and beyond in the fight against the illegal online trafficking of counterfeit goods by partnering with law enforcement and rights owners globally, and we hope that this is fair warning to criminals that the internet is not a safe place to try and sell fake goods.”Operation In Our Sites (IOS) is a sustained law enforcement initiative by the ICE that began more than two years ago to protect consumers by targeting the sale of counterfeit merchandise on the internet. The 101 domain names by ICE seized under Project Cyber Monday 3 bring the total number of IOS domain names seized to 1,630 since the operation began in June 2010. Since that time, the seizure banner has received more than 110 million individual views.Of the 1,529 previous domain names seized, 684 have now been forfeited to the U.S. government. The federal forfeiture process affords individuals who have an interest in seized domain names a period of time after a “Notice of Seizure” to file a petition with a federal court and additional time after a “Notice of Forfeiture” to contest the forfeiture. If no petitions or claims are filed, the domain names become the property of the U.S. government. Additionally, a public service announcement, launched in April 2011, is linked from the seizure banner on each of the 684 forfeited websites.The banner and video educate the public about the criminal consequences of trafficking in counterfeit goods and the economic impact that crime has on the U.S. and global economies.U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Districts of Maryland, Colorado, New Jersey, Southern District of California, Central District of California, Western District of New York and the Western District of Texas issued the warrants for the seizures. Significant assistance was provided by the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions, and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.

Swedish Registry Answers Questions On Will It Shut Down ThePirateBay.se

With The Pirate Bay now using a .SE domain name in an attempt to avoid US authorities seizing control of its domain, the Swedish registry .se has put out a statement explaining the situation for the file sharing sites current preferred domain name.Back in February The Pirate Bay switched from using a .ORG domain to .SE following US government agencies seizing a number of .COM domains that were being used for selling counterfeit goods and other activities. Operation In Our Sites has been operated by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center). Through the operation, the US government had seized 769 domain names as of July 2012.The statement from .se is below:Will .SE shut down thepiratebay.se?When the Supreme Court of Sweden decided in February not to examine the court of appeal’s ruling in the protracted trial against The Pirate Bay (TPB), the file-sharing site was relocated from .org to .se. .SE has not been issued a formal court order to take action based on the ruling. However, we receive many questions about how we would react if the situation were to come to a head, which I would now like to address.So far, .SE has not taken any actions following the ruling against TPB since we do not consider ourselves obligated to do so based on the contents of the ruling. Nor is it possible to answer hypothetical questions regarding how we would respond if we were to receive a formal order. Our actions would largely be determined by the contents of the order and the issuing party. Accordingly, we will assess the situation on a case-by-case basis if such an order is issued.
Generally speaking, what actions can .SE take against a domain name registrant?We always have the right to take action based on a ruling against us pertaining to a specific domain name. Under Item 6 of our user agreement, we also have the right to deactivate and deregister a domain in the event that the domain itself or the manner in which it is used constitutes an obvious infraction against Swedish law. This provision is formulated in such a way as to enable us to take action in obvious cases – for example, in the distribution of child pornography or agitation against a national or ethnic group.However, this is a right not an obligation, and such action would only be taken after a decision is made by .SE’s Board of Directors. Such a decision has never before been made.We believe that the judicial authorities should determine whether or not it is appropriate to take action against a particular domain name registrant. Unless we have been ordered to do so, there is a risk that we could call the validity of the legal process into question by taking action before a ruling is passed.However, on a couple of occasions, we have deactivated a domain when suspicions of identity theft were raised and the domain in question had been used for what is known as phishing.What actions could the court order us to take?Naturally, we cannot know for certain, but a few possibilities are that the court could order the domain name to be deregistered, the name server to be removed or the domain name to be forfeited (seized) or placed on .SE’s block list.
Three ways to block a domainTPB is currently blocked in several countries. However, the methods used to block a domain are all relatively easy to circumvent and thus essentially ineffective. Three main methods exist. To illustrate these methods, we have chosen to compare them with various ways of breaking into a shoe store located in a shopping mall.1. Block the IP addressThis method is used, for example, by the Chinese state to limit its citizens’ access to websites deemed to be objectionable by the regime. The IP addresses of these sites are compiled in a list and no traffic is permitted to access them. However, it is relatively easy for the owner of the website to move it to another IP address, thereby circumventing the block.Users can also bypass a blocked IP address using an anonymity service, such as Tor, but this requires a relatively high level of technical ability.Blocking an IP address can be compared to blocking the entrance to a shoe store. While a determined customer would undoubtedly be able to enter through an emergency exit at the back of the store, most would assume the store was closed and shop elsewhere.2. Block or shut down the domain nameIt is possible to block a domain name by contacting either .SE, which can deregister the domain name, or the name server operator – usually a web hosting company – which is responsible for keeping track of the IP address or addresses associated with the domain name. However, the domain may still be accessible through the address.Removing a domain name can be compared to taking down the signs hanging outside the shoe store. Although this would make it more difficult for customers to find the store, it would still be there and any customers who were able to find it would be able to continue buying shoes there.3. Seize the serverWhen the Swedish police cracked down on web hosting company PRQ, PRQ’s servers were seized. However, it did not take long before The Pirate Bay was up and running again, since the contents of the servers had been copied in several other locations.In the physical world, this can be compared to closing the shoe store and confiscating the shoes, but the parallels end there. Since it is not possible to make back-up copies of physical products, such as shoes, it would be much more difficult for the storekeeper to resume operations.
The domain is not the problemWe believe the problem in this type of situation is not the domain, but rather its contents. The domain name itself is not an accomplice in act of copyright infringement and if thepiratebay.se, for example, were to be shut down, the site would almost certainly reopen under another top-level domain.

Seized Sites: The In Rem Forfeiture of Copyright-Infringing Domain Names by Andrew Sellars

Abstract: In the summer of 2010, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division of the Department of Homeland Security began “Operation In Our Sites,” an enforcement sweep targeted towards websites allegedly dealing in counterfeit goods and copyright-infringing files. The operation targeted the websites by proceeding in rem against their respective domain names. For websites targeted for copyright infringement, ICE Agents used recently-expanded copyright forfeiture remedies passed under the 2008 PRO-IP Act, providing no adversarial hearing prior to the websites being removed, and only a probable cause standard of proof.This Paper examines three specific harms resulting from Operation In Our Sites, and three ways in which the enforcement sweep could be changed to better balance the interests of intellectual property enforcement and free expression. By removing content from the Internet before being fully adjudicated as infringing, the civil forfeiture remedy works a prior restraint of speech. To avoid this, this Paper urges Congress and the courts to institute the same procedural First Amendment protections in place in the area of obscenity to copyright infringement. Secondly, the alleged infringement here appears to be conducted by third parties posting material on the websites. By keeping website owners out of the dispute process, this remedy disrupts the cooperative spirit sought to be instilled by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s inclusion of statutory safe-harbors for online service providers. To reinstate this cooperative spirit, agents should be required to attempt in personam contact against the website owners before proceeding against the websites in rem. Finally, by targeting website domain names instead of actual content servers, Operation In Our Sites has not effectively disrupted the activities of the targeted websites. In fact, many websites have grown in popularity since this enforcement sweep began. Due to the dubious efficacy of targeting domain names, this remedy should be reserved for situations where there exists some other extrinsic reason to believe that the enforcement tactic will work.To download and read this paper by Andrew Sellars in full, go to:
ssrn.com/abstract=1835604

US Seizes Three Domains Involved In Illegal Distribution Of Android Apps

Three domain names were seized as part of an enforcement action taken by the FBI to prevent the infringement of copyrighted mobile device apps. It was the first time domains involving mobile phone app marketplaces have been seized.Seizure orders were executed against the three domain names engaged as they were involved in the illegal distribution of copies of copyrighted Android cell phone apps, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates of the Northern District of Georgia and Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office announced. The operation was coordinated with international law enforcement, including Dutch and French law enforcement officials.The three seized domain names – applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com – are in the custody of the federal government. Visitors to the sites will now find a seizure banner that notifies them that the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and educates them that wilful copyright infringement is a federal crime.”Cracking down on piracy of copyrighted works – including popular apps – is a top priority of the Criminal Division,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Software apps have become an increasingly essential part of our nation’s economy and creative culture, and the Criminal Division is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect the creators of these apps and other forms of intellectual property from those who seek to steal it.””Criminal copyright laws apply to apps for cell phones and tablets, just as they do to other software, music and writings. These laws protect and encourage the hard work and ingenuity of software developers entering this growing and important part of our economy. We will continue to seize and shut down websites that market pirated apps, and to pursue those responsible for criminal charges if appropriate,” said U.S. Attorney Yates.”The theft of intellectual property, particularly within the cyber arena, is a growing problem and one that cannot be ignored by the U.S government’s law enforcement community. These thefts cost companies millions of dollars and can even inhibit the development and implementation of new ideas and applications. The FBI, in working with its various corporate and government partners, is not only committed to combating such thefts but is well poised to coordinate with the many jurisdictions that are impacted by such activities,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Lamkin.During the operation, FBI agents downloaded thousands of copies of popular copyrighted mobile device apps from the alternative online markets suspected of distributing copies of apps without permission from the software developers who would otherwise sell copies of the apps on legitimate online markets for a fee. In most cases, the servers storing the apps sold by these alternative online markets were being hosted in other countries, and our international law enforcement partners assisted in obtaining or seizing evidence stored on these servers. Nine search warrants were also executed in six different districts across the country today as part of the operation.The operation reflects a coordinated effort by the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and the Office of International Affairs; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia; the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office; and six other U.S. Attorney’s Offices, including the Southern District of Mississippi, the Middle District of Florida, the Western District of Michigan, the Southern District of Indiana, the District of Rhode Island and the Northern District of Texas.The FBI is a full partner at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center). The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. The IPR Center uses the expertise of its 19 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property (IP) theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters. To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.The enforcement actions announced today are one of many efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force). Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, protect the health and safety of American consumers, and safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation and hard work. The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders. To learn more about the IP Task Force, go to www.justice.gov/dag/iptaskforce/.

US Lawmakers Want Assurance New gTLDs Will Protect Trademarks And Not Break Internet

Key members of the US Congress are still raising concerns about ICANN’s plan to new gTLDs, writing to the organisation outlining concerns that any new strings introduced will not harm trademark holders and requesting assurance the public will have adequate opportunity to comment.In a letter to ICANN, that follows an earlier one in December 2011, said that since the earlier letter, “brand-owners, consumers, and members of the law enforcement community have continued to voice concerns about the adequacy of ICANN’ s proposed steps to protect against increased risks of cyber-squatting, fraud, and abuse in the new gTLDs.”The letter from the chairman and ranking member of both the Senate and House judiciary committees [PDF] asks ICANN to provide them “with further details about the steps ICANN is taking to fulfil its commitment to ensure that the New gTLD process will provide ‘a secure, stable marketplace’ with input from ‘the community as a whole.'”Responding to the earlier letter, “ICANN emphasised that the New gTLD programme ‘includes robust processes to assure that the community as a whole – with particular opportunities for governments and rights holders – has the opportunity to raise objections that could lead to the rejection of applications,’ including because of user confusion, infringement of legal rights, and misappropriation of community names or labels.”But the lawmakers are unconvinced saying that “despite this assurance, many members of the public outside the ICANN community are unaware that the New gTLD programme is underway. Of those who are aware, few know about the public comment process or comprehend that their opportunity to participate in this forum is scheduled to end in less than a week.”The committee members ask ICANN to answer the following three questions:

  • what steps has ICANN taken to inform members of the public outside the ICANN community about the New gTLD public comment process
  • what steps is the Independent Objector taking to encourage and maximise public input and what role will the Independent Objector play in articulating and representing public concerns about specific gTLD applications
  • will ICANN keep open the New gTLD public comment forum to enable comments from the broader public and allow the Independent Objector to receive their views?

The letter reiterates their concerns regarding inadequate protections for trademark holders, including that the Trademark Clearinghouse will only allow complaints from trademark holders for 60 days. And asks is there any reason not to extend this period. Other concerns here are when will the review occur for the Clearinghouse policies and concerns of high registration fees in new gTLDs for trademark holders protecting their brands.

US Presidential Campaigns Stock Up On Domains, Particularly Negative Domains

The US presidential campaign teams for Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are busy buying up domain names to be ready to hurl insults at one another!Theapologistinchief.com and agingrockstar2012.com are two of dozens of domain names Romney’s team has registered, spending $32,261 on domain-related purchases while the Obama campaign has spent $29,627 on “domain websites,” according to campaign-finance reports the USA Today reports.The USA Today report quotes experts in digital media who say “campaigns and political organisations of all stripes increasingly use the ‘microsites’ as tools to draw attention to an issue, brand an opposing candidate or raise money around specific themes.””It’s absolutely a good strategy,” Vincent Harris, a digital consultant who worked with the GOP presidential campaigns of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, told the USA Today. “The shorter, the catchier the name the better.”Josh Bourne, president of the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse, told the paper that the fact that the Romney campaign appears not to own any of the combinations of his name and potential vice presidential contenders could be a problem soon.”There’s a ‘snooze, you lose’ aspect,” he said. “When they announce that running mate, unfortunately it tends to dawn on them then: … The good name is gone; now they have to use something that is less memorable.”

US Seizes Another 70 Domains Selling Counterfeit Goods

Another 70 domain names allegedly involved in selling counterfeit merchandise were seized by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center).The 70 websites seized are part of Project Copy Cat, an iteration of Operation In Our Sites (IOS), and closely mimicked legitimate websites selling authentic merchandise and duped consumers into unknowingly buying counterfeit goods. Many of the websites so closely resembled the legitimate websites that it would be difficult for even the most discerning consumer to tell the difference.The websites are now shut down and their domain names are in the custody of the federal government. Visitors to these websites will find a seizure banner that notifies them that the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and educates them about the federal crime of willful copyright infringement.”This operation targeted criminals making a buck by trying to trick consumers into believing they were buying name brand products from legitimate websites when in fact they were buying counterfeits from illegal but sophisticated imposter sites located overseas,” said ICE Director John Morton. “The imposter sites were simply a fraud from start to finish and served no purpose other than to defraud and dupe unwary shoppers.”A new twist in the websites seized in Project Copy Cat involved the appearance of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates. SSL certificates provide authentication for financial information, meaning consumers should be able to trust that they are sending information to the intended server and not to a criminal’s server. Trusted SSL providers should only issue SSL certificates to verified companies that have gone through several identity checks. In addition to providing authentication, SSL certificates also provide encryption, enhancing the security of credit card numbers, usernames, passwords and other sensitive information. These websites, however, displayed SSL certificates, further duping the consumer into thinking they were shopping on a legitimate website, potentially putting customers’ financial information at risk.During this operation, federal law enforcement officers made undercover purchases of a host of products, including baby carriers, professional sports jerseys, language and fitness DVD sets, and a variety of clothing, jewelry and luxury goods from online retailers who were suspected of selling counterfeit products. In most cases, the goods were shipped directly into the United States from suppliers in other countries. If the copyright holders confirmed that the purchased products were counterfeit or otherwise illegal, seizure orders for the domain names of the websites that sold the goods were obtained from federal magistrate judges.”Every day the U.S. economy and American jobs are negatively impacted by criminal organisations engaged in the sale of counterfeit merchandise through rogue websites. Even more importantly, consumer’s health and safety can be threatened when they unknowingly purchase counterfeit products,” said IPR Center Director Lev Kubiak. “Our goal at the IPR Center is to protect the public’s safety and economic welfare through robust intellectual property enforcement and we hope that today’s enforcement actions raise the public’s awareness to this pervasive crime.”This operation was the next phase of IOS, a sustained law enforcement initiative that began two years ago to protect consumers by targeting the sale of counterfeit merchandise on the Internet. These 70 domain name seizures bring the total number of IOS domain names seized in the last two years to 839. This enforcement action coincides with the two-year anniversary of the 2010 launch of IOS. Since then, the seizure banner has received more than 103 million individual views.Of the 769 previous domain names seized, 229 have now been forfeited to the U.S. government. The federal forfeiture process affords individuals who have an interest in seized domain names a period of time after a “Notice of Seizure” to file a petition with a federal court and additional time after a “Notice of Forfeiture” to contest the forfeiture. If no petitions or claims are filed, the domain names become the property of the U.S. government. Additionally, a public service announcement, launched in April 2011, is linked from the seizure banner on each of the 229 forfeited websites. This video educates the public about the economic impact of counterfeiting.The operation was spearheaded by the IPR Center in coordination with HSI field offices in Denver, El Paso, Houston, Newark and Salt Lake City. U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Western District of Texas, Southern District of Texas, District of New Jersey, District of Colorado and the District of Utah issued the warrants for the seizures. The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. The IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.During the first phase of IOS in 2010, the IPR Center received information from the Motion Picture Association of America that a website, www.ninjavideo.net (Ninja Video), was illegally distributing pirated copies of motion pictures and other audiovisual works. Ninja Video provided its millions of visitors the ability to illegally download high quality copies of copyrighted movies including movies that were currently in theaters or not yet released.Following the seizure of the website, search warrants were executed at the residences of the primary suspects in the United States and funds were seized from 15 separate financial accounts. To date, the Ninja Video investigation has resulted in the arrest and conviction of five of the six co-conspirators with sentences ranging from 22 months in federal prison to three years of probation with a combined restitution exceeding $470,000 to the victims. A sixth co-conspirator remains a fugitive. In addition to Ninja Video, IOS phase one also targeted eight other websites selling counterfeit merchandise in New York.Previous website seizures include:

  • First phase: 9 domain names
  • Second phase: 83 domain names
  • Third phase: 10 domain names
  • Fourth phase: 18 domain names
  • Fifth phase: 5 domain names
  • Sixth phase: 17 domain names
  • Seventh phase: 58 domain names
  • Eight phase: 156 domain names
  • Ninth phase: 10 domain names
  • Tenth phase: 385 domain names
  • Salt Lake City: 7 domain names
  • Sustained Effort: 11 domain names

These cases are part of efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force) to stop the theft of intellectual property. Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, protect the health and safety of American consumers, and safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation and hard work. The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders.

Neustar Kickstarts America’s Interest in .US

Start With DotUS logoNeustar have started a publicity campaign to both alert Americans to and encourage their use of the .US ccTLD.

The campaign wants small business to consider using a .US domain name for their business. Neustar say they spoke to small business, listened to their concerns and the KickStart America Campaign is the result.

As part of the campaign, Neustar have developed a toolkit to assist small business in getting online with help on how to choose a good domain name, information on what to consider on developing a website, and whether the business should do it themselves or hire a professional, and then, once online, how to promote the website and business.

And to help with this “kickstart”, Neustar and .US are also giving away an all-expenses paid trip to Washington DC to attend a national small business conference.

To find out more about the campaign, go to www.about.us.

America Registry logoTo register your .US domain name, check out America Registry here.