As Expected, ICE Seizes 313 Websites In Its Role As The NFL's Private Police Force

from the government-overreach dept

Earlier this week, we predicted that either today or tomorrow, we'd hear about ICE and the DOJ once again seizing a bunch of websites... and here it is. This morning, ICE announced that it had seized another 313 websites based on its highly questionable legal theory concerning taking down websites without any adversarial hearing. Of course, lately it's moved away from doing site seizures concerning websites that deal with content/copyright issues, and focused instead on those it claims are selling counterfeit merchandise. Along those lines, ICE announced that it arrested a few people with counterfeit Super Bowl merchandise.

Of course, this is all for show. Waiting until just a couple days before the Super Bowl is pretty ridiculous, since if people were going to buy merch, they already did so. This is just ICE, once again, generating headlines for the corporations it seems to think it represents. As is his usual MO, ICE boss John Morton talked up just how "successful" this operation was, based on his own metrics, claiming "This just takes good old-fashioned police work, people getting out on the streets."

Funny, then, that he completely leaves out the parts where they seized legitimate merchandise and hassled the seller. It appears that, sometimes, ICE just isn't very good at "good old-fashioned police work." And that's especially true when it seems to be taking orders from big companies, rather than the public it is supposed to be protecting.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 31st, 2013 @ 12:48pm

    ...

    "ICE just isn't very good at "good old-fashioned police work.""

    That statement is exactly five words too long....

     

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

  2.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Jan 31st, 2013 @ 1:02pm

    So...

    313 websites sacked, huh?

    How many points was that worth? None?

    man, the ICE does horrible defense, doesn't it?

    Really guys, you need to stop the other team on 4th and goal, if you can't do that, then you just better give up.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 1:04pm

    every year ICE has made a complete fuck up of the 'good old fashioned police work' this year is obviously no different. just as obvious is Morton's lack of decency and lack of balls to say how many times the 'good old fashioned police work' has gone completely tits up! but then, i suppose that's why he's got the job!

     

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  4.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jan 31st, 2013 @ 1:06pm

    I thought ICE stood for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. What the hell has this got to do with that?

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 1:08pm

    Waiting until just a couple days before the Super Bowl is pretty ridiculous,


    It makes perfect sense, minimum impact on their sales, and maximum amount of money to the government when they seize the assets.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 1:16pm

    Re:

    I'll take a stab at that.

    If counterfeit merchandise is imported from another country but just happened to slip through their extremely thorough inspection process for all goods that enter the country then happens to end up on the streets being sold to unsuspecting citizens for a fraction of the cost of the authentic merchandise duped into thinking that they are just getting a deal on the stuff (because people aren't smart enough to figure this stuff out for themselves and need the government to do it for them) all the while somehow (not sure how exactly but just trust them it is happening) hurting children somewhere (not sure where but again trust them the children are somewhere) in the process. That is perfectly in their jurisdiction to remove this travesty from the marketplace.

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 1:21pm

    Re:

    Especially when they inevitably give it to the franchises, who then slap an "authorised merchandise" sticker on and jack up the price tot he standard for that franchise.

     

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

  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Re:

    Oh and I forgot if they don't seize it the American economy will completely collapse on itself and somehow (we can't explain how but trust us again it will happen) cause planes to fall out of the sky.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Re:

    Actually they don't really do that. Often times they take the fake clothing and give it to homeless shelters and other charities that can use it for good. Otherwise they usually just destroy it.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Re:

    I meant that the seized sites made maximum sales, and therefore money to be seized. To maximise the seizure of goods they would have to have acted much earlier.

     

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

  11.  
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    radarmonkey (profile), Jan 31st, 2013 @ 1:31pm

    Headline correction needed

    How can you call ICE the "NFL's Private Police Force" when they work so readily with the RIAA and MPAA?

     

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

  12.  
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    Griffdog (profile), Jan 31st, 2013 @ 1:52pm

    Fewer brains than an ICE cube

    According to the source article, "Visitors to those sites now are greeted with a banner educating them about how willful copyright infringement is a federal crime, ICE stated."

    Awfully nice of ICE to attempt to educate us about Copyright Infringement. Too bad that copyright law has nothing to do with the majority of the sites they shuttered. Selling counterfit merchandise is a Trademark violation. You'd think ICE would be smart enough to recognize that.

    Except, repeated demonstrations to the contrary have shown us otherwise.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Besides everyone knows the audience is biggest around the Super Bowl so now it the time that they can have the biggest impact for their PR efforts. "Look people! We just did something!"

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Headline correction needed

    Ok maybe he should have said "The Entertainment Industry's Private Police Force."

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 1:58pm

    Re: Fewer brains than an ICE cube

    You used the words "smart" and "ICE" in the same sentence. That's impressive.

     

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

  16.  
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    Adrian Lopez, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 2:02pm

    Illegal Seizure

    I wonder how many of these websites would be deemed infringing in a court of law. In today's era of presumed guilt, I guess we'll never know. It used to be these cases would end up in court, but nowadays it's just shut down and be done. I foresee a future when certain precedents are never established because cases never end up in court.

    I want something better, and not this "adversarial hearing" bullshit Mike speaks of. I want full trials along with the accompanying burden of proof.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 2:13pm

    Re: Fewer brains than an ICE cube

    Nope. Trademarks are far too limited in scope. They use copyright because it is more likely that they can get the counterfeits convicted. Trademarks can easily end in typosquatting discussions and a question of where to draw the line. When you say copyright infringement it covers a wider range of copying since it is not limited to name or logo. Essentially Trademark is an extention of Copyright, that will protect consumers against "commercial misrepresentation". However a shoe from Nika might be legal in terms of trademark, but if it looks too much like the original Nike(tm) shoe it is copyright infringement.

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 2:14pm

    Re: ...

    Surely you mean it should end after the 5th word.

     

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

  19.  
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    ralph, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 2:48pm

    I don't think anybody is going to hold ICE accountable when it screws up

    The same goes for the DOJ with regard to Aaron Swartz

    Or the FBI and Joe Biden with regard to Megaupload.

    Do you see a pattern? Do you think the USA is a democracy, really?

    Can we say 'hypocritical' ?

     

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

  20.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Jan 31st, 2013 @ 2:50pm

    I have an idea...Let's report John Morton for Intellectual Property Rights

    Here is the link.

    http://www.ice.gov/exec/forms/hsi-tips/tips.asp

    File a claim.

     

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

  21.  
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    shane (profile), Jan 31st, 2013 @ 3:08pm

    Pop Culture

    One of the reasons I watch less and less tv and even have fallen away from football, basically my favorite sport, is the obvious role IP plays in the ridiculous salaries for sports stars and other glaring errors of judgement that arise in our society.

    Not having to worry about being threatened by the NFL if I create a fansite is a nice fringe benefit of the failure of my give-a-damn about pop culture.

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 4:13pm

    I was reading about CouchDB and MongoDB.

    In fact I just installed CouchDB(it appears to be the easier one).

    It is easy to create a database with it, it is easier still to make collaborative editing and so I was wondering if it was possible to make a database with all the questionable DOJ actions, the laws they fall under and see what the data tells us.

    This reminds me of the planespotter, because of his online handle, NoSQL databases can be used to create interactive online databases for spotters from bad laws to bad enforcement actions.

    Here is an example of it.
    http://blogs.23.nu/c0re/2008/12/building-a-track-and-trace-application-with-couchdb/

    Now CouchDB is great to toy around and get into the world of data collection and analysis, there are others that may fit needs like MongoDB, Cassandra, RIAK and others, but like the name says CouchDB is target to the lay person(aka noob, nooby, non-nerdy, non-geek).

    Techdirt could toy with the idea of creating an interactive spotter app inside this own website and let people see what others have spotted, think of it as an expansion to the "submit story", people just don't submit they see it being submited.

    It also could create a database that every techdirtian could replicate and spread.

    Or we the readers could just make something like that happen too :)

    Right now I can't I just got started with the thing and my first roadblock at the moment is finding an easy way to import/export to/from csv/xml/json/bson.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 4:13pm

    Of course, this is all for show. Waiting until just a couple days before the Super Bowl is pretty ridiculous, since if people were going to buy merch, they already did so.

    Why is it you're able to reach this conclusion despite the actual evidence in the press release [ http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/1301/130131neworleans.htm ], but then you're completely unable to arrive at an opinion as to whether we should have any copyright? I don't get it.

    The press release says that the operation has been in effect since Sept. 1, and they have already seized 160,000 items valued at $13.6M. They arrested 23 people already in connection with the counterfeiting. You're saying that they waited until it was too late, but that's clearly at odds with the facts. Plus, it is noted that the goods are still valuable after the Super Bowl. You're pretending like they completely blew it because of terrible timing, while you're ignoring the success they've already had plus discounting the success they are likely to continue to have. Please explain how this is "all for show" and not actually about enforcing trademark laws. Please explain too how the domain name seizures are based on a "highly questionable legal theory" when the issue is trademark infringement and counterfeiting. I know most of your arguments are copyright-based. How do they apply when it's trademark? Let's delve into the details and the nuances so we can have a productive discussion of the issues on the merits.

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 4:16pm

    Re: Re: Fewer brains than an ICE cube

    Nobody likes a smartICE.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 4:51pm

    What "questionable legal theory"?

    "Seized legitimate merchandise". You mean they find something that appears suspicious, check it out and find it is legit, and then leave the individual to continue selling his wares?

     

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

  26.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Jan 31st, 2013 @ 4:55pm

    Re:

    The whole article above was contextually related to the WEBSITE seizures and not the physical good seizures.

    From the press release you quoted "Furthering HSI's efforts to combat the international counterfeiting supply chain and piracy online, special agents seized a total of 313 websites identified to be selling counterfeit merchandise."

    Nowhere does the release state that that was a part of the effort since 01 Sep, 2012. In fact further on it states it is part of the next interation of "Operation In Our Sites".

    So why did they wait until just now to say what they have seized in relation to WebSites? Easy they either ONLY just seized them, or they have waited to tell people. Either way it is specifically designed to politicise the seizures for the benefit of the Super Bowl corporations.

    >> Why is it you're able to reach this conclusion despite the actual evidence in the press release
    A press release is not evidential, and is due to its very nature hearsay.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 5:03pm

    Re: Re:

    The domain name seizures and arrests and seizure of goods are all part of the same operation. It appears pretty clear that they didn't wait too long if they seized that much stuff and made that many arrest. Mike's just trying to say that in his opinion this whole thing is a failure. I'm questioning how he arrived at that opinion. Given how I know he doesn't like to state an opinion until he knows for sure, I'm curious how he was able to be so sure here, especially when he's ignoring the other details of the operation. Seems like he's able to state opinions based on very little with ease. Funny how he claims to be unable to have an opinion on other issues when he's so quick to have an opinion here.

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 5:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Fewer brains than an ICE cube

    If ICE actually was smart instead of taking orders from the NFL then maybe all this shit wouldn't happen.

     

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

  29.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Jan 31st, 2013 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The domain name seizures and arrests and seizure of goods are all part of the same operation.
    Not according to ICE they aren't.
    The website seizures during Operation Red Zone are the next iteration of Operation In Our Sites, a long term law enforcement initiative targeting counterfeiting and piracy on the Internet. The 313 websites have been seized by law enforcement, and are now in the custody of the federal government. Visitors to these websites will find a seizure banner that notifies them that the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and educates them that willful copyright infringement is a federal crime. Since the launch of Operation In Our Sites in June 2010, the ICE HSI-led Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Center has seized a total of 2,061 domain names. [emphasis added]
    In other words they came into the same timeframe as the physical seizures but were actually aprt of another operation that has been going on for a long time and is highly controversial. They just waited until now to tell anyone about those sites because its easier to slip them into a press release dealing with "physical" goods than any other time. Again leading to one questioning there motives on why NOW and not when they actually seized them. Unless they seized them all very recently (which is doubtful)

    I'm not saying I'm positive that that is the case though based on my experience with these sorts of governmental Press releases they do them when they can get the most bang for there buck. Whether that gives the impression of kowtowing to the SuperBowl corporations and doing there bidding or otherwise.. well that's the risk they take I guess (whether true or otherwise)

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 6:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not sure I see your point. The press release says that "Operation Red Zone" included the seizure of counterfeit goods, arrests, and domain name seizures. The domain name seizures are part of the larger "Operation in Our Sites," but they are also clearly delineated as part of "Operation Red Zone." Regardless, I don't see how "Operation Red Zone" or this iteration of "Operation in Our Sites" shows bad timing on the government's part. It seems more like as a normative matter Mike doesn't think that trademark rights should be enforced, and he's just trying to come up with some criticism he can use to say the operation was not done correctly. He didn't address the actual evidence of the operation's success in giving us his opinion, so I'm trying to understand how it is he arrived at it. Considering how he claims it is important to have lots of data and facts before giving an opinion, it seems like here he did not. I'm just wondering if he can comment on any of this, or is he just writing articles for the effect of bringing FUD to the issue while refusing to discuss any of it on the merits. Seems clearly that it's the latter.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 10:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The meaning of normative in the context of the DOJ actions is making screw ups the norm isn't it?

     

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

  32.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 1st, 2013 @ 12:25am

    Good old fashioned police work... you mean like examining the evidence of wrongdoing on wall street?
    You mean like trampling on civil rights?

    I don't think he understands the concept.

     

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

  33.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 1st, 2013 @ 12:30am

    Re:

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130129/10471821817/feds-seize-legit-49ers-merchandise-apparently -unconcerned-about-actual-fraud-ticket-sales.shtml

    So HOMELAND SECURITY is incharge of these operations.
    Without doing any homework the first action was to grab everything, tell them we know your guilty, then actually investigate and discover they were incorrect.

    Seems like that isn't the way people imagine legal things are done. That they would get actual evidence before making accusations and threats. But then some dude selling gear in a gas station is a threat to the entire Homeland...

     

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

  34.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 1st, 2013 @ 2:59am

    Re: So...

    Pillaged. That's what the Government does these dais. Pillage (seize without warrants) and harass (ignore due process).

     

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

  35.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 1st, 2013 @ 3:00am

    Re: Headline correction needed

    "Corporate private police available to the highest bidders" sounds better.

     

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

  36.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 1st, 2013 @ 3:01am

    Re: Fewer brains than an ICE cube

    They should seize Google.com and Facebook.com. More traffic, more people educated on how the MAFIAA needs more money.

     

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

  37.  
    identicon
    Reality Check, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 3:19am

    Re: Re: Fewer brains than an ICE cube

    I disagree with your statement that "Trademark is an extention of Copyright".

    I believe that Copyright was created with the intent to create a limited advantage for the 'artist' which would result in more 'art' for the citizens. It was therefore created to 'protect the artist'... It's true IP Law.

    Trademark was never intended to protect the manufacturer, it was intended to directly protect the consumer from being deceived into buying bad products because they looked like a good product.

    They started out completely different, and both are just legal tactics to abuse the public now.

    That said, I don't disagree with your logic why ICE would pick copyright to abuse the citizens it is supposed to be serving.

     

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

  38.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 1st, 2013 @ 3:34am

    Are we in for another Dajaz1?

     

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

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 4:55am

    Re:

    Please explain the lack of due process.

     

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

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 4:56am

    Re:

    If you see something, seize something

     

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

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 4:58am

    Re:

    I suppose that saying could be applicable, due to the fact that the police have been corrupt since - forever.

     

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

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 6:46am

    Re: Re:

    Again, what "questionable legal theory"?

    Again, what was "seized" (a term of law where a person is dispossed of their property and the property moved elsewhere)? I did not read anything in the accounts of this matter that the seller's property (i.e., his wares) were removed.

     

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

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 6:50am

    Re:

    BTW, what the H*** does this have to do with Wall Street? You cannot be seriously suggesting that federal authorities are required to prosecute crimes you deem important before they can devote efforts to investigating possible violations of other federal laws?

     

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

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 6:59am

    A prior comment did not show up.

    Again, what "questionable legal theory" was involved?

    Again, what was "seized", a legal term that involves the dispossession of property? There is nothing in any article I have read concerning this matter that suggests a "seizure" actually took place. The federal agents observed what they believed might be a violation of law, questioned the suspect, determined that nothing was amiss, and then left the scene, where upon the individual once again engaged in the selling of his wares. Geez, place some things in perspective before launching off with righteous indignation.

     

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


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