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Intellectual Property Rights
04/26/2011

New public service announcement launched to raise intellectual property theft awareness

65 seized websites now feature PSA

WASHINGTON - To coincide with World Intellectual Property (IP) Day, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has launched a new public service announcement (PSA) that aims to raise awareness of the economic impact of IP theft.

In June 2010, the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) began "Operation In Our Sites," a sustained initiative targeting websites used to sell counterfeit goods and illegally distribute copyrighted materials. Since the launch of this operation, the IPR Center has seized 120 domain names and redirected those domain names to a seizure banner. 65 of the 120 domain names have been administratively forfeited. The PSA is available on each of the forfeited domain names.

Through the administrative forfeiture process, individuals who have an interest in the seized domain names are provided a period of time after the "Notice of Seizure" to file a petition with a federal court and additional time after the "Notice of Forfeiture" to contest the forfeiture. If no petitions or claims are filed, the domain names become property of the U.S. government. Since "Operation In Our Sites" began, 65 domain names have been forfeited using this process. Other domain names are still in the administrative forfeiture process.

Since "Operation In Our Sites" was launched, there have been over 45 million hits to the seizure banner that notifies visitors that a federal court order has been issued for the domain name and educates them that willful copyright infringement is a federal crime. The resulting public education about pirating is a significant benefit of this enforcement operation as it deters future crimes and helps raise awareness. With the amount of traffic to these seized sites, the new PSA will continue to assist in educating the general public on the true impact of IP theft, including the loss of American jobs.

"The public service announcement launched today will help raise awareness that American businesses, and American jobs, are threatened by those who pirate copyrighted material and produce counterfeit trademarked goods," said ICE Director John Morton. "Intellectual property rights and the ability to enforce those rights encourage American companies to continue the tradition of American innovation and develop products, ideas and merchandise. That is why we will continue to educate the general public about the real consequences of IP theft."

For example, visitors to www.dvdcollects.com, a domain name seized in November 2010, will now redirect to the PSA hosted on ICE's official YouTube page. The PSA is also available by visiting the IPR Center website or YouTube.com.

World IP Day was instituted by the World IP Organization to raise awareness of the threat posed globally by the theft of trademark and intellectual property rights and the dangers posed by counterfeit and substandard products.

Since the launch of "Operation In Our Sites," the IPR Center and HSI have conducted four enforcement phases:

  • In February 2011, the IPR Center seized 18 domain names of commercial websites engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods.
  • In February 2011, HSI seized 10 websites that illegally streamed live sporting telecasts and pay-per-view events over the Internet were seized.
  • In November 2010, 83 domain names of commercial websites engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and copyrighted works were seized.
  • In June 2010, investigators executed seizure warrants against nine domain names of websites offering pirated copies of first-run movies, music and software.

"Operation In Our Sites," has been coordinated with the Department of Justice's Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section and U.S. Attorneys' Offices across the country including the Southern District of New York, District of Columbia, Middle District of Florida, District of Colorado, Southern District of Texas, Central District of California, Northern District of Ohio, District of New Jersey and the Western District of Washington.

Intellectual property rights violators unfairly devalue America's contributions, compromise American jobs, and put consumers, families, and communities at risk.

They also protect the actor, director, writer, musician, artist, and countless others who labor in and around America's entertainment industry from having a movie, manuscript, song or design illegally sold by someone who had no part in the artistry of creating it.

Intellectual property rights are intended to discourage thieves from selling cheap imitations of products that are often far less safe or reliable than the original products.

More importantly, intellectual property rights protect public safety by preventing the proliferation of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and other materials that are potentially harmful.

The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. The IPR Center is led by ICE's HSI and includes partners from U.S. Customs and Border Protection; FBI; Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations; Postal Inspection Service; Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration; Patent and Trademark Office; Naval Criminal Investigative Service; Defense Criminal Investigative Service; Army Criminal Investigative Command, Major Procurement Fraud Unit; General Services Administration, Office of Inspector General; Consumer Product Safety Commission; Defense Logistics Agency, Investigations Division; Department of State, Office of International Intellectual Property Enforcement; INTERPOL; Government of Mexico, Tax Administration Service; and Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

As a task force, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions, and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.

To report IP theft, click here.