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Counterfeit DVD Sites Among Those Seized in Fed Shutdown

28 Nov, 2012 By: Chris Tribbey

During Cyber Monday the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), working with several domestic and international law enforcement agencies, took down more than 130 Internet domains accused of selling counterfeit merchandise.

While a majority of the sites dealt in illegal sporting goods and more than two dozen were selling knock-off Louis Vuitton merchandise, ICE nabbed a handful of sites that were dealing in bogus DVD product, including dvdhood.com,
tvdvdset.com and dvdsetshop.com. Federal agents made undercover purchases of the DVDs to confirm they were pirated, ICE said in a statement.

Visitors to those sites today are greeted with a notice from ICE that the domains have been seized.

An ICE spokesman said the European Police Office (Europol) may have shut down more home entertainment-related sites outside of those registered in the United States. A Europol spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

“This operation is a great example of the tremendous cooperation between ICE and our international partners at the [National Intellectual Property Rights, or IPR] Center,” said ICE director John Morton. “Our partnerships enable 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.”

ICE worked with law enforcement agencies in Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania and the United Kingdom to shut down the sites.

It’s the third straight year the American government has taken the lead on shutting down counterfeit products online during the Thanksgiving shopping holiday. However, it’s the first year the U.S. government actively sought cooperation from foreign agencies to combat dubious retail websites.

Dubbed “Operation in Our Sites,” the annual endeavor has shuttered more than 1,600 sites accused of dealing in counterfeit goods since 2010, with dozens of those sites selling pirated discs.

“Europol became a member of the IPR Center this year, and I am glad to be able to announce these operational successes,” said Rob Wainwright, director of Europol. “IPR theft is not a harmless and victimless crime. It can cause serious health and safety risks, and it undermines our economy.”

ICE and its partners are seeking to prosecute the people who run the shuttered sites, and are specifically marking those who used eBay-owned PayPal to facilitate transactions.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the opportunity to … shut down criminals targeting our customers and our brand just as the holiday season takes off,” said Tod Cohen, VP and deputy general counsel of government relations for eBay.

About the Author: Chris Tribbey

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