Feds Back To Seizing Websites Over Claims Of Copyright Infringement

from the motherfucking-eagles dept

While we've written plenty about the US Justice Department and US Homeland Security (via ICE) seizing various websites on questionable legal authority by claiming they were tools used for criminal copyright infringement, a series of pretty massive screwups seemed to have them, at least temporarily, shying away from such seizures around copyright claims. Huge errors like seizing Dajaz1 for over a year and then having to admit they had no evidence and give it back seemed to at least make them a little less cowboyish about the websites they chose to shut down and censor.

But, of course, this is the federal government we're talking about, and they sure loved the ability to shut down speech without any sort of adversarial hearing or, you know, due process. So you just knew it wouldn't last. The latest is that the feds have seized three more domains (applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com), claiming that they were "engaged in the illegal distribution of copies of copyrighted Android cell phone apps." Indeed, a quick look at the internet archive certainly suggests that these sites advertised that you could get "paid" apps for free if you joined. But does that warrant a criminal investigation and seizure? Perhaps there are more details, but given the sketchy details of earlier seizures, I'd wonder.

But, more to the point, if these sites were really engaged in such things, why wouldn't a civil copyright infringement lawsuit suffice? Why should the government get involved, when it involves completely pulling down a website with no warning, no adversarial hearing and no due process for those accused?

The Justice Department seems to indicate that this sort of thing is now a "top priority," because (apparently) they have way too much free time on their hands:
“Cracking down on piracy of copyrighted works – including popular apps – is a top priority of the Criminal Division,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Software apps have become an increasingly essential part of our nation’s economy and creative culture, and the Criminal Division is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect the creators of these apps and other forms of intellectual property from those who seek to steal it.”

“Criminal copyright laws apply to apps for cell phones and tablets, just as they do to other software, music and writings. These laws protect and encourage the hard work and ingenuity of software developers entering this growing and important part of our economy. We will continue to seize and shut down websites that market pirated apps, and to pursue those responsible for criminal charges if appropriate,” said U.S. Attorney Yates.

“The theft of intellectual property, particularly within the cyber arena, is a growing problem and one that cannot be ignored by the U.S government’s law enforcement community. These thefts cost companies millions of dollars and can even inhibit the development and implementation of new ideas and applications. The FBI, in working with its various corporate and government partners, is not only committed to combating such thefts but is well poised to coordinate with the many jurisdictions that are impacted by such activities,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Lamkin.
One other tidbit of interest. Unlike the previous seizure disasters, this one appears not to have been led by ICE, but directly by the Justice Department (via the FBI). The announcement doesn't name this as a part of "Operation in our Sites" which seems to be a term specific to ICE's controversial program. Either way, they're still certainly using the eagle-heavy "seized" graphic they love to throw around, so, of course, we'd be remiss if we did not remind folks that they can purchase their very own "seized tee," to show what you think of the government's efforts.

Filed Under: android, apps, doj, domains, fbi, seizures, websites

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The First Word

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 22 Aug 2012 @ 4:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Once again, just because you *disagree* with my opinion, it does not make me dishonest. But, keep flinging the ad homs. It shows everyone here that you have no argument but to throw around personal insults.

    Is that what they teach you at that third tier law school of yours? When you've lost the argument, insult those who know better than you? Ask for your money back then.

    And you don't know that there was any protected speech on those sites.

    It's a *website*. There is speech on the website: it's called the content on the website. Websites *are* expressive.

    I appreciate free speech and all the other laws more than you do.

    And yet you have no problem shutting down websites with no adversarial hearing. You have no respect for free speech.


    Oh great, I'm debating a 12 year old.

    You cited three cases, all of them obscenity cases.

    All of which deal with the bar needed for expressive content. And you know that. Or, again, your law school has failed you.

    The logic in those cases doesn't apply when it's IP,

    Changing the argument. We're not talking about *THE IP INFRINGING CONTENT* but the *EXPRESSIVE CONTENT ON THE SITE*.

    Yes, a website can have expressive content. It can even have protected expression. So what?

    So, you need to reach a higher bar before seizing it. Otherwise you get massive fuckups like Dajaz1. That you would support such a thing is disgusting.

    I quoted a case that says prior restraint isn't in play when it's IP.

    And again, you pretend we're only discussing IP. Because you're not very good at the law.

    And why are you such a dishonest twit?

    My *opinion* that you don't know what you're talking about does not make me "dishonest." It means I have a different opinion than you. Normal thinking people comprehend basic English. You don't.

    Why don't you explain how due process has been violated?

    If you don't understand it, you have no business commenting here. You have demonstrated a complete lack of comprehension of the issues as explained by many commenters above.

    Keep flailing.

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