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Gov Crackdown On "Rogue" Websites Stirs Concern Gov Crackdown On "Rogue" Websites Stirs Concern

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Gov Crackdown On "Rogue" Websites Stirs Concern

In response to news that the Obama administration shut down a number of Web addresses of sites that facilitate illegal file-sharing or sell counterfeit goods, public interest groups expressed concern about the precedent it sets.

"There are risks to large-scale seizures of domain names without any adversarial process," said David Sohn, senior policy counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

In the past couple of days, the Justice and Homeland Security Departments have shut down more than 80 websites as part of an effort to curb Internet counterfeiting and piracy. The government crackdown coincided, intentionally, with "Cyber Monday," one of the busiest online shopping days of the year.

Internet users hoping to make a purchase on one of the targeted sites will be redirected to a screen with a message from the government saying that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a department of Homeland Security, has confiscated the domain name "pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court."

Sohn, and Casey Rae-Hunter, policy strategist for the Future of Music Coalition, are worried about website operators' ability to defend themselves, or lack thereof.

"What is the recourse for 'false positives?" Rae-Hunter said. It's one of a number of questions he has about the "powers afforded to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to take down websites."

The New York Times reported that at least one of the operators of a targeted site, Waleed A. GadElKareem, did not receive any notice before it was shut down.

Mr. GadElKareem told the NYT that his server was up and running at a different address.

Citing the ability of operators to easily move content from one site to another, Rae-Hunter noted the importance of having enforcement tools that protect copyright but that are "thoughtfully applied and at the very least, effective."

At a press conference on Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder defended the government's actions saying it's in the best interest of good business.

Intellectual property "crimes threaten economic opportunities and financial stability," Holder said. "They destroy jobs."

Bob Pisano, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, a staunch advocate of stricter enforcement of copyright infringement, applauded the government's efforts.

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"These 'worst of the worst' rogue websites, which cloak themselves in respectability yet traffic in counterfeit and stolen goods, victimize not only the buyers of these products, but the more than 2.4 million hardworking Americans whose livelihoods depend on a healthy motion picture and television industry," Pisano said. "We thank the Department of Justice and ICE for their continuing efforts in addressing this serious problem."

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy, lead sponsor of a bill moving through Congress that would specifically authorize the seizure of domain names of sites associated with IP theft, also praised the actions taken by the Obama administration.

The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act recently cleared the Judiciary Committee and awaits consideration of the full Senate.

"We can no longer sit on the sidelines while American intellectual property is stolen and sold online using our own infrastructure," Leahy said in a statement. "This costs American jobs, hurts our economy, and puts consumers at risk."

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Excellent!"

Rick, Executive Director for Policy

Concise coverage of everything I wish I had hours to read about."

Chuck, Graduate Student

The day's action in one quick read."

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I find them informative and appreciate the daily news updates and enjoy the humor as well."

Richard, VP of Government Affairs

Chock full of usable information on today's issues. "

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