82 Domains, Including BitTorrent Search URL, Are Seized

Nov 29, 2010 5:15 PM PST
WASHINGTON — Federal authorities from the Justice Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday said they seized 82 commercial domain names.

Most of the domains seized by authorities allegedly involved the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit and copyrighted goods, but the seizure also had an oddity — the seizure of BitTorrent meta-search engine Torrent-Finder.com.

Authorities, in queries from XBIZ, declined to elaborate why Torrent-Finder.com was seized.

DOJ and ICE picked the title “Cyber Monday Crackdown” for the seizures as part of Operation In Our Sites v2.0.

The operation targeted online retailers of a diverse array of counterfeit goods, including sports equipment, shoes, handbags, athletic apparel and sunglasses as well as illegal copies of copyrighted DVD boxed sets, music and software.

"The protection of intellectual property is a top priority," ICE Director John Morton said. "We are dedicated to protecting the jobs, the income and the tax revenue that disappear when counterfeit goods are trafficked."

Surfers attempting to access the websites now find a banner notifying them that the domain name of that website has been seized by federal authorities.

News of Torrent-Finder.com being seized irked its owner, who told TorrentFreak that his "domain has been seized without any previous complaint or notice from any court."

TechDirt noted in a story that the move for domain seizures without due process is "massively troubling."

"The whole thing seems highly questionable. Seizing domain names without a trial, and taking down sites that appear to be nothing more than search engines, rather than actually hosting infringing material, is a huge, dangerous step, which appears to have absolutely nothing to do with Homeland Security's mandate."

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