US Feds Just Seized 307 Sports Domains

US Feds Just Seized 307 Sports Domains

The Super Bowl is like a goose that lays golden eggs from which cash cows hatch. It makes obscene amounts of money. So, that could be why the DHS has stepped up its confiscation of sports-related domains in the run-up to Sunday American Football Super Bowl — nuking a total of 307 separate sites.

The seizures were part of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) project, Operation in Our Sites. ICE leveraged civil-seizure laws conventionally used to confiscate physical assets with suspected ties to illegal activity (being stolen, fenced, used in another crime, etc). They exploited the fact that .net, .com and .org are controlled by US organisations (Verisign and the Public Internet Registry) to not only take the sites but also require the sites’ owners to prove that they were not involved in illegal acts. In total, 291 sites were snagged for selling counterfeit products and 16 were taken for streaming copyrighted content — one website proprietor has also been arrested for his involvement.

The DHS couldn’t be any more smug about the successful haul of illicit sites. ICE director John Morton had this to lecture,

While most people are focusing on whether the Patriots or Giants will win on Sunday, we at ICE have our sights on a different type of victory: defeating the international counterfeiting rings that illegally profit off of this event, the NFL, its players and sports fans. In sports, players must abide by rules of the game, and in life, individuals must follow the laws of the land. Our message is simple: abiding by intellectual property rights laws is not optional. It’s the law.

Some sites have appeared to have slipped through the DHS’s clutches and set up elsewhere. This also marks the first instance of a .TV domain seizure. But with that much money at stake, you can be sure these won’t be the last such sites scrubbed from the net. [GeekosystemMaximum PC]