Homeland Security’s ICE unit has started the ninth phase of Operation In Our Sites. Following on from last week’s action targeting online shops selling counterfeit goods, US authorities have just seized the domain names of 11 Korean movie download portals. For the first time since the seizures began the banner has been updated to include Korean language.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have confiscated another 11 domains names, all related to Korean movie portals.
The seizures are another iteration of “Operation In Our Sites”, the domain name seizing initiative designed to crack down on online piracy and counterfeiting.
This weekend’s actions are the first to target a range of sites that are not directed at the US public. For this purpose the seizure banners, which replace the site’s original content, are now updated to include a message in the Korean language.
The following domains are confirmed to be part of the most recent crackdown: 007disk.com, 007disk.net, 82movie.com, 82movie.net, 82us.com, bzserv.info, itvwmg.com, ktvwmg.com ,wmgitv.com, wmgus.com, wmgus.net.
The seizures were signed off by a US District Court and all 11 domain names are now in the custody of the federal government. On first inspection, the majority of the sites offered access to downloads of the latest Hollywood blockbusters for a small charge.
Interestingly, and this is also new, the domain names are connected to one company, World Multimedia Group, Inc. So despite the fact that the sites were targeted at Korean speaking visitors, the websites appear to belong to a Seattle-based company.
Seized banner, now also in Korean
The authorities have yet to comment on this latest round of domain seizures, but we assume that it will be justified as another attempt to protect the commercial interests of US companies.
“Intellectual property crimes harm businesses and consumers, alike, threatening economic opportunity and financial stability, and today we have sent a clear message that the Department will remain ever vigilant in protecting the public’s economic welfare and public safety through robust intellectual property enforcement,” Attorney General Eric Holder said a few days ago, responding to the previous seizure round.
In total the federal government has now seized more than 350 domains as part of Operation In Our Sites.
Previously these actions have been heavily criticized, as opponents argue they violate due process and several other constitutional rights. Thus far these concerns haven’t held back the authorities from going after piracy and counterfeit related domains.
And it could be just the start. If the pending Protect IP and SOPA bills are signed into law in their current form, the seizures will be further legitimized and increase the rate at which domain names are taken in custody.