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Immigration patrol steps up fight against online movie piracy

Getting a free and illegal peek at “Toy Story” or “Prince of Persia” on the Internet just got harder, as the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement steps up its patrol of Web sites that stream copyright-protected content without permission.

ICE and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York announced on Wednesday an initiative they are calling “Operation In Our Sites,” which is aimed at battling counterfeiting and piracy online.

They’ve begun Wednesday by seizing the domain names of seven Web sites that offer first-run movies, such as,, and

Online piracy of entertainment content has been a source of frustration for Hollywood, which argues that it is losing out on fortunes and losing jobs to lost revenues as movies and shows get circulated for free on the Internet. Some public interest groups agree that illegal piracy should be stopped but say that stopping streaming or counterfeiting should be a transparent process so users are aware of how authorities are affecting their access to Web sites.

“We are dedicated to protecting the jobs, the income and the tax revenue that disappear when organized criminals traffic in stolen movies for their own profit,” said ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton.

Morton was joined by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York, and representatives of Motion Picture Association of America in Los Angeles on Wednesday to announce the partnership.

Directing the federal government’s response to online piracy is the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), based in Virginia, which is managed by ICE.

On Wednesday authorities also seized the domain names of and -- Web sites that generated revenue from donations and advertising as it linked to more than 200 moviews and 300 television programs illegally -- IPR Center officials said.

Rick Cotton, general counsel of NBC Universal and chair of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center, said the announcement by ICE indicates a more serious approach to anti-counterfeiting by the Obama administration.

"Last week Vice President Biden and White House IP czar Victoria Espinel laid out a comprehensive and strategic federal IP enforcement strategy across the federal government," Cotton said. "Today we see immediate fruits of this stepped up enforcement from Attorney General Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano."

By Cecilia Kang  |  June 30, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Media , Online Video , copyright  
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The Ninjavideo Manifesto

A 21 minute Podcast on why this raid is wrong and will ultimately fail.

Posted by: hihi22 | June 30, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

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