Why Hasn't ICE Been Talking About Its Latest Domain Seizures?

from the the-new-quiet-strategy? dept

In the last few weeks, Homeland Security's ICE division has once again been seizing servers. TorrentFreak noticed a group of five domains seized recently, and SD pointed us to details of five more domains seized a little over a week earlier. From the domain names, it's clear that ICE is mostly focusing on sites that sell counterfeit goods right now, which is slightly less controversial. Pretty much all of the names (e.g. lacosteshoesmall.com and newerahatss.com) involve some sort of brand name. The site owners are unlikely to protest because they're likely engaged in trademark infringement. However, that doesn't make the legality of simply seizing such domains prior to an adversarial hearing any less questionable. It's just that ICE is doing the same thing that police have been known to do with drug dealers: seize stuff knowing that the people they're taking from don't want to go to court. It basically becomes a license for law enforcement to steal.

Of course, it's highly questionable how effective any of this. Maybe it makes someone sitting in an ICE office excited, but the counterfeiters are still counterfeiting and still selling their goods. Hiding their website doesn't do much to stop anything. But perhaps a bigger question is why ICE isn't hyping up these seizures? Perhaps it's trying to avoid all of the backlash when it screws up?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    DandonTRJ (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 1:49am

    Aren't there already expedited procedures for seizing domain names engaged in trademark infringement? The UDRP? Why is ICE getting involved outside copyright disputes now? (Not that they have any business in copyright either, but now they don't even have the lack of an accelerated system for the relevant rights holders to justify their seizures.)

     

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  2.  
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    That Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 2:16am

    because as you very quietly and without fanfare take out many sites where the owners don't fight back, you get a number.
    You trot this number out in a press conference to show what an amazing job your doing.
    You can then say we have seized X evil sites and only a couple complained, and they had to have been breaking the law if we went after them... look how many other times we were right.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 2:32am

    Because there is nothing to see here citizen. The authorities have everything under control. Move along. Now.

     

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  4.  
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    WysiWyg (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 2:46am

    Re:

    I was under the impression that it was the other way around for ICE, that they started with counterfeit because it's part of "protecting the borders", and then they just kind of drifted into copyright and online dealings.

     

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  5.  
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    WysiWyg (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 2:47am

    Did they really seize any servers?

     

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  6.  
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    DandonTRJ (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 4:20am

    Re: Re:

    Historically, I think you're right. I was referring less to ICE's proper mission and more to the contours of what we knew Operation In Our Sites to be. My understanding of the program's basic premise was that copyright owners didn't like bothering with traditional due process in "blatant" cases of infringement and wanted something more expeditious, so ICE stepped in to provide that. But with trademark infringement, I know you've got the UDRP to expedite the cancellation or transfer of infringing domain names [which all these new sites seem like they'd fall prey to], so I don't see why a non-traditional seizure was necessary. Although I guess ICE can target infringing sales on top of infringing domain names? My memory of the system is a little foggy, especially at 4am. But since it's still cutting out all adversarial hearings, it's shady no matter how you slice it.

     

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  7.  
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    abc gum, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 4:39am

    From which website does ICE purchase their jack boots?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 4:55am

    Re:

    Yes, citizen, shame on you for not protesting when the law is enforced.

    oh wait, you only like the laws that are convenient for your freetard ass?

    Yes, let's drop everything and do what works for you. Right away.

    Cuz y'know, in a society, it's all about you.

    Yes indeedy, and btw, that's such an awesomely, infinite situation you have there, the one where other people labor to entertain you for nothing. Because, y'know, as much as you are addicted to content, it now is worth nothing because it was easy to steal in 2003. And that is the way it will always be, forever and ever, amen.

    So in the spirit of that, someone go find me the remote and make me a turkey sandwich. Now.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 5:17am

    Re: Re:

    WTF was that all about?

     

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  10.  
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    abc gum, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 5:24am

    Re: Re:

    "shame on you for not protesting when the law is enforced.
    "

    IIRC, the law says one gets their day in court.

     

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  11.  
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    Nicedoggy, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 5:40am

    First rule of the ICE Club you don't talk about it.

     

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  12.  
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    SD (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 5:53am

    Re: Re: Re:

    ICE has said in the past that they order products when they're targeting counterfeiters online so they have physical evidence to support the seizures. All 10 of these domain names were online stores and that seems to be what happened. However I think a lot of the choices had more to do with trademark infringement than counterfeiting. There was repetition in the choices: "lacosteshoes"(x3), "puma"(x2), "newerahats"(x2). All 10 domain names have poor Alexa rankings. It may have been cheaper(for the companies at least) for ICE to seize rather hiring a UDRP panel.

    UDRP Fee Schedule

     

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  13.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 5:54am

    Re: Re:

    Yes, let's drop everything and do what works for you. Right away.

    Cuz y'know, in a society, it's all about you.


    And THAT RIGHT THERE is what is wrong with modern IP-centric society. This is the attitude displayed, not only by politicians, but by the MAFIAA, IFPI and their ilk. These fuckwits genuinely believe that it's all about them, and fuck everyone else with Ferdinand the Bull.

    And it's got to stop.

     

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  14.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 5:56am

    Re:

    nazimemorabilia.com

     

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  15.  
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    Butcherer79 (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 6:15am

    Re:

    and the second rule?

     

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  16.  
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    Shawn (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 6:17am

    Not to be conspiratorial, but I am starting to think the Anti Counterfeiting argument and seizures are just to get the general public used to the fact that it is OK for the government to do things like this to protect us. That way if the population ever puts down their tv remote and takes a good look at what is going on and tries to use the internet to protest the US government they can send ICE in to take the servers off line.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 6:38am

    Icky Cock Enema

    what a crock of shit we all have to be force fed by these frakkers.

     

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  18.  
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    Nicedoggy, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 6:49am

    Re: Re:

    Don't talk about the first rule.

     

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  19.  
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    Nicedoggy, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 6:50am

    Re: Re:

    Pirates at least make their own copies they don't sit around waiting for others to do their job and hoping for instant gratification and riches :p

     

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  20.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 7:04am

    Re: Re:

    Cucumbers!

     

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  21.  
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    Daddy Bear, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 7:18am

    Re: Re:

    Talk about someone who just needs a good cry, tell mommy all about it and get a cookie... Have you tried holding your breath and kicking your heels as well? LOL

     

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  22.  
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    SD (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 7:20am

    Debunking the "consumers are getting ripped off" argument

    If that's really happening, wouldn't a central directory of verified sites be the best solution? Why hasn't that happened yet? Perhaps someone could come up with a new standard very much like the Google Safe Browsing Protocol or SSL Root Servers. The majority of the transactions left would be between counterfeiters and the people who actually want counterfeits. ICE and other customs agencies around the world are supposed to stop counterfeits from entering their countries regardless if they've shipped from online stores or not. When a counterfeiter can set up shop on a new domain name the next day it makes all of the seizures futile. They may even be making the problem worse because counterfeiters could expand to more domain names than what they would have originally planned on running, so if one goes down they're still running on backups and laughing all the way to bank.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 7:28am

    "It basically becomes a license for law enforcement to steal."

    Interesting perspective Mike. Steal what, how?

     

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  24.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 7:33am

    Re:

    Steal people's livelihoods. It's not that hard to see.

     

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  25.  
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    known coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 7:44am

    Ya know, was Re: Re:

    as a parent of a developmentally disabled kid i am getting sick and tired of this 'freetard' crap. How about coming up with a less demeaning name of people you are not trying to insult. Unless you are targeting the developementally disabled . . .

     

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  26.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 7:49am

    Re:

    There is a line from a TV show. This has all happened before, this will all happen again. While most people here have probably had the same thought, that this is to get the population used to these sort of seizures. It's actually the same thing that has happened before, monopoly or old technology, disruptive new technology, disbelief of what is happening, and seeking government protection.

    We saw this attempt to get government protection, in whale oil -vs- electric lights, buggys -vs- cars, trains -vs- cars, cruise lines -vs- airplanes. In every one of these cases the new technology won out. We are seeing a repeat of this again in carbon -vs- renewables, and content services -vs- dumb pipes.

    Now we have the content companies running down this same path, trying to block all competition, remove the public domain, and invalidate the creative commons. All in order to mainatain a monopoly position.

    Like that is going to work, 5 million bands on myspace, new shows coming out online, new video and audio editting apps for the android operating system. Soon everyone will have the equivalent of a TV and music studio hanging on their hip. It's not a conspiracy, it's the death struggles of the big business golden era of music and video.

     

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  27.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 7:49am

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, it's Pie!!!

     

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  28.  
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    Mats Svensson, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 7:59am

    Forget everything you just heard and go back to sleep.

    Forget everything you just heard and go back to sleep.

     

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  29.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 8:11am

    Re:

    > Mike. Steal what, how?

    Steal your money and/or property. No due process required.

    It's been done before.

    I remember some years ago a tv documentary during prime time that covered a particular police department in Florida. They would stop people for speeding, then they would say something or other about drugs and steal all of the people's cash. Most of these people were on vacation and had lots of cash.

    What, so they took $1200? How much time/trouble is it going to cost you to get it back.

    If you cannot see how ICE being able to do this without due process opens up potential for all kinds of abuse, then you are blind as well as stupid.

     

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  30.  
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    Trails (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re:

    So you're saying counterfeit is a "gateway enforcement". Once the agency gets started on conterfeit enforcement, they become hooked, moving on to harder and harder enforcements, seeking the same power rush as their first enforcement. It's only a matter of time before they're summarily executing people for ending sentences with prepositions, and offering sexual favours in cheap motels in order to gain political clout for more jurisdiction.

    All you budding gov't agencies, take this as a learning moment.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 8:41am

    Re: Re:

    What a coincidence. That's how many people trying to make a living in the entertainment industry feel about rogue site operators pirating their works and monetizing them for their own personal gain. It's not like the artists and/or rights holders have any opportunity to have a day in court before their property is replicated all over the internet. Good for ICE.

     

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  32.  
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    A Monkey with Attitude (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 9:05am

    Re: Re: Re:

    And yet you fail again... kinda sad to see a shill and troll fall on its head over and over again...

     

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  33.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 9:09am

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, I steal all my money for free. [/sarc]

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 9:18am

    Re:

    Interesting perspective Mike. Steal what, how?


    Read the news much? For example, here's a Michigan State Police Press Release (Feb 23, 2011):
    LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, joined by Michigan State Police (MSP) Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, today announced the Attorney General's Public Integrity Unit has filed criminal charges against two MSP lieutenants and a Monroe County man accused of running a criminal enterprise out of the Michigan State Police Office of Monroe Narcotics Investigations (OMNI).

     . . . .

    Michigan State Police Lt. Luke Davis, 48, of Monroe; Lt. Emmanuel Riopelle, 42, of Grosse Ile; and Monroe County resident Lawrence Dusseau, 42, are accused of coordinating an extensive scheme to systematically embezzle property and money seized from suspects between March 2006 and December 2008.


    (Emphasis added)

    Related news report: “Attorney General Bill Schuette's public integrity unit files first case against two Michigan State Police lieutenants” (Feb 28, 2011).

     

    When the government just starts taking stuff, then individual cops feel empowered to start just taking stuff.
    Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.

              ——Mr Justice Brandeis

     

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  35.  
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    Trails (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I think he missed your sarcasm.

     

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  36.  
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    Austin (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 9:38am

    Double Standard

    Mike, I'm ashamed of you!

    The only difference between these seizures and the seizures of previous sites is that Homeland Security is working for the fashion industry instead if the RIAA/MPAA. This is still a branch of the US Federal Government doing something that benefits a private industry, which should be left in civil court. Beyond the specific industry in question, there is no other difference!

    Seriously Mike. I know these aren't tech-related companies, but it's unfair for you to be any less outraged here!

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 10:34am

    Re:

    Yeah Mike, steal what, exactly? It is like "stealing" a song? After all, it's all just virtual bits and bytes on the internet. A domain isn't property, it's just a virtual repesentation. So how would you steal it, exactly?

    Oh wait, are you suggesting that some virtual and infinite things (there is effectively infinite domain names) somehow have value and can be stolen?

    Welcome to Contradiction City, population you.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Exactly. The founding fathers never intended copy protection lengths to last nearly as long as they do.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re:

    Yeah Mike, steal what, exactly? It is like "stealing" a song? After all, it's all just virtual bits and bytes on the internet. A domain isn't property, it's just a virtual repesentation. So how would you steal it, exactly?

    Oh wait, are you suggesting that some virtual and infinite things (there is effectively infinite domain names) somehow have value and can be stolen?

    Welcome to Contradiction City, population you.


    Hahahahahahaha.... nice beatdown of the Lord High Apologist Techdirtbag.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 11:08am

    Re: Double Standard

    @Austin

    He's a piracy apologist, not a counterfeiting apologist. What did you expect?

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re:

    @DannyB

    Steal your money and/or property. No due process required.

    If you cannot see how ICE being able to do this without due process opens up potential for all kinds of abuse, then you are blind as well as stupid.

    Stupid would be believing that such seizures haven't been already tested in court and found to be constitutional.

    You may make the rules in your LARP league, but the federal courts have this one handled. Thanks anyway.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Re:

    Congratulations. You don't know what infinite means. After all, who would care if Google.com was seized? Google could just change their domain to qwsaadappdoaraorttbblarg.com and everything would be fine. Right?

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Exactly. The founding fathers never intended copy protection lengths to last nearly as long as they do.

    Wow, you got the Delorean running again McFly?

     

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  44.  
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    Karl (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 1:04pm

    Re:

    Steal what, how?

    Look up how seizure laws have been abused in drug cases. For example:
    Willie Jones of Nashville, TN, gave an example of this abuse. Engaged in the landscaping business, Mr. Jones planned to buy a shrubbery in Houston, TX. Nurseries prefer cash from out-of-town buyers, so Mr. Jones planned to go there with $9,000 in cash. Officers detained him at the airport: suspicious of the large amount of cash, they accused him of being involved in drug-related activities. They eventually let him go, but they kept the money, and refused to even give him a receipt for it.

    - http://www.law.cornell.edu/background/forfeiture/

    This sort of thing happens all the time.

    I personally wouldn't call these particular seizures "stealing." I would simply call them "censorship." Far less than the copyright seizures, of course, since these site have nothing but "commercial speech" on them, but censorship nonetheless.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 1:14pm

    And on the lighter side of the news from the NYT:

    "Aaron Swartz, a 24-year-old programmer and online political activist, was indicted Tuesday in Boston on charges that he stole more than four million documents from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and JSTOR, an archive of scientific journals and academic papers."The charges filed against Mr. Swartz include wire fraud, computer fraud, obtaining information from a protected computer and criminal forfeiture"."

    “Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars,” said Ms. Ortiz in the press release."

    http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/19/reddit-co-founder-charged-with-data-theft/

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 1:37pm

    Re:

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 1:42pm

    And he is a fellow at Harvard's center for ethics????? Perfect!

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0711/59397.html

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Re:

    I personally wouldn't call these particular seizures "stealing."


    Why not call the seizures "stealing"? Whether the government has worked a ‘meaningful inteference with a posessory interest’ or instead the government has worked a ‘meaningful interference with a liberty interest’, the result is the same. The domain registrant paid for the publication of an NS record and A record glue. The government has prohibited the publication of the former NS and A records, and ordered that substitute records shall be published. Whether it's liberty or property, the government has completely deprived the registrant of what he formerly had. The goverment has utterly excluded the registrant from what he paid for.

    Is stealing liberty less objectionable than stealing property?

    If you pay for a listing in a phone book, how is it not stealing when the goverment orders the phone-book publisher to change the listing to the number of a goverment office.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Re:

    For real, look at that picture. The guy might as well have 'douchebag' written on his forehead.

     

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  50.  
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    Karl (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 8:42pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Is stealing liberty less objectionable than stealing property?

    Exactly the opposite, which is why I think government censorship is worse than stealing.

    Also, "stealing" implies that the government is taking the domain name for its own financial use (as is the case with the Willie Jones case, and most of the "drug seizure" cases). I don't think that's what is going on here.

    The goverment has utterly excluded the registrant from what he paid for.

    You make a good point. In the words of Dowling v. United States: "interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud. The infringer of a copyright does not assume physical control over the copyright nor wholly deprive its owner of its use."

    Since the government did assume control over the domain name, and deprive the owner of its use, the seizures in this case do "easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud."

    More than the crimes they're prosecuting, certainly.

     

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  51.  
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    Karl (profile), Jul 19th, 2011 @ 8:49pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Stupid would be believing that such seizures haven't been already tested in court and found to be constitutional.

    Stupid would be believing that such seizures have been already tested in court and found to be constitutional.

    They haven't. Certainly, the government can seize infringing goods, but I don't know of one case where the government was allowed to seize legal goods along with the infringing goods.

    That may not apply in these cases, since AFAIK the sites did not have significant non-infringing content. However, it certainly does apply in the copyright cases.

    Perhaps that's why ICE is desperately stalling anyone who actually wants to fight the seizures in court.

     

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  52.  
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    hugh williams, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 4:32pm

    domains

    how do they have the right just to grab these domains

     

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  53.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually it's a troll. Ignore him. Same bs he always posts with slightly different words. Actually I think he's running out of words because he sounds like a parrot now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 10:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    He merely read quotes from them that were passed on throughout the times. I have this excellent Thomas Jefferson quote at hand from "Scary Devil Monastery", a pretty educated TorrentFreak reader.

    “Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society. It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.”

    - Thomas Jefferson

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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