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ICE Answers

ICE Answers

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Published by TorrentFreak_

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Categories:Types, Letters
Published by: TorrentFreak_ on May 14, 2011
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05/14/2011

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OfficeoftheDirector
U.S.DepartmentofHomelandSecurity50012thStreet,SWWashington.D.C.20536
MAY
09
2011
U.S.ImmigrationandCustomsEnforcement
TheHonorableZoeLofgrenMember,U.S.HouseofRepresentativesWashington,D.C.20515DearRepresentativeLofgren:ThankyouforyourApril7,201
t
letter.YouwroteregardingOperationInOurSites,alawenforcementoperationthatcombatsfederalcriminalcopyrightandtrademarkviolationsontheIntemet.ICEcannotanswerquestionsrelatingtoongoingcriminalinvestigationsormattersinlitigation.However,wecananswergeneralquestionsconcerningtheenforcementactionsundertakenduringOperationInOurSites.AI!ofICE'sanswersbelowaremeanttorepresentonlytheviewsofICEandnottheAdministrationasawholeoranyotheragency.1.Indeterminingwhethertoseizethedomainnamesofparticularwebsitesforcopyrightinfringementrelatedtoonlinemedia(eitherdownloadsorstreaming),whatadditionalinvestigationdidICEconductafterreceivingcomplaintsofinfringementfromcopyrightowners'?AlthoughICEcannotdiscusstheongoinginvestigationsofanyseizeddomainnameoramatterinlitigation,ICEconductedthoroughindependentinvestigationsofeachseizeddomainnamepriortoobtainingcourt-orderedseizurewarrants.IwouldreferyoutothevoluminousaffidavitsfiledwithcourtsinthesemattersthatdetailthespecificactionswithineachinvestigationconductedunderOperationInOurSites.
~l.
DidICEconductanindependentinvestigationoftheallegationsofinfringementbycopyrightownerstodeterminetheirvalidity?Ifso,pleasedescribethespecificactionsinvolved.Pleaseseetheanswerdirectlyabove.h.DidICEconductanyinvestigationrelatedtopossibledefensesagainsttheallegationsofcopyrightinfringement,suehasfairuseorevidenceofauthorizationbythecopyrightowner'!Yes,ICEinvestigatedpossibleaffirmativedefenses.
 
TheHonorableZoeLofgrenPage2
c.DidICEinvestigatewhethertheownersoftheseizeddomainscompliedwiththeDMCA-specifically,whethertheyreceivedanytakedownnoticesfromcopyrightownersfortheallegedly-infringingcontent,whethertheyrespondedtothosenotices,andwhethertheyqualifiedforanyofthesafeharborsfrominfringementliabilityestablishedby17U.S.C.
§
512?
Incertaincircumstances,theissuanceandcomplianceoftheDigitalMillenniumCopyrightAct(DMCA)takedownnoticeswaspartofinvestigations.However,criminalviolationsunder18U.S.C.
§§
2319and2320,aswellastheforfeituresectioncontainedin18U.S.C.
§
2323,areprovisionsCongressenactedseparatefromthetakedownprocessprovidedforundertheDMCA.
d.DidICEinvestigatewhethertheownersoftheseizeddomainswerelocatedintheUnitedStatesandwhethertheallegedlyinfringingcontentwashostedonserverslocatedwithintheUnitedStates?
Yes,ICEdidinvestigatewhethertheownersoftheseizeddomainswerelocatedintheUnitedStates.IfanarrestcanbemadeofanindividualintheUnitedStatesviolatingcriminaltrademarkorcopyrightlaw,ICEwillworkwiththeDepartmentofJustice(DOJ)tomakesuchanarrest.ICEalsoinvestigateswhethertheinfringingcontentishostedonserverswithintheUnitedStates.DuringOperationInOurSites,ICEagentsobtainedseveralcourtorderstoseizeserversintheUnitedStatesthatcontainedinfringingcontent.
2.
If
aninfringingwebsiteishostedintheUnitedStates,meaningthatitsserversand/ordataarewithinthephysicalreachofU.S.lawenforcement,isaseizureofthatwebsite'sdomainnamestillnecessary?
If
so,why?
ICE'sinvestigationofonlinepiracyshowsthatadomainnamehasvaluetothecriminaloperatorofawebsiteillegallyofferingcopyrightedcontent.Sitesillegallyofferingcopyrightedcontentoftenearntremendousprofitfromadvertisingrevenue.Forinstance,ICErecentlyworkedwithDOJtoforfeitaU.S.bankaccountholding$500,000,allegedtobeproceedsfromadvertisingrevenuefromjustoneinfringingsite.Asyoumaybeaware,advertisingrevenueisbaseduponthenumberofvisitstothesite.Often,thenumberofvisitstoapiratesitebuildsovertimeasitsreputationincreases.Industrysourcesadviseitcantake9to15monthsforawebsiteillegallydistributingcopyrightedmaterialtobuildupenoughtraffictoprofitfromthecriminalactivity.Thegreatestprofitisearnedbywellknownandpopular"piratesites."Indeed,thedomainnamesometimesbecomessynonymouswithcriminalcopyrightinfringement.Therefore,inadditiontoseizingaserverandanyavailableassets,seizingthedomainnames,under18U.S.C.
§
2323,isanothertoollawenforcementcanusetodisruptcriminalactivity.Thecriminalscannotsimplyreusethesamedomainnameandstartwiththesamelevelofprofitability.
If
thecriminalchoosestoreengageinsuchillegalconduct,heorshemustbegintosocializeanewdomainname.
 
TheHonorableZoeLofgrenPage3
3.TheseizuresinOperationInOurSiteswereexecutedwithoutanypriornoticetoorcontactwiththedomainowners.Whywasthisnecessary?Forseizuresrelatedtoonlinemedia,whydidICEnotattempttocontactthewebsiteoperatorsandgivethemashortamountoftimetorespondtotheallegationsofinfringement?
TheseizuresofdomainnamesconductedinOperationInOurSiteswereconductedaspartofcriminalinvestigationsforviolationsof18U.S.C.§§2319and2320,afterjudiciallyauthorizedseizurewarrantswereobtained.Lawenforcementagenciesdonotnotifysuspectsofimpendingcriminalenforcementactionspriortotheirexecution.
4.DoyoubelievethatawebsitethathostsnocontentofitsownbutinsteadmerelylinkstootherwebsitescanbeguiltyofcriminalcopyrightoffensesunderexistingU.S.lawandsubjecttoaseizureofitsdomainname?
If
so,whatlegalauthoritycanyouprovideforthisview?
ICEcannotprovideanadvisoryopinionaboutthelawfulnessorunlawfulnessofparticularwebsites.ICEcananswercertainquestionsrelatedtoadomainnameseizureunderOperationInOurSites,ifthereisnolongeranongoinginvestigationortheissueisnotinlitigation.
5.WouldICErefrainfromseizingthedomainnameofawebsiteforcopyrightinfringementrelatedtoonlinemediaifthewebsite'soperatorsfullycomplywiththeDMCA?
ICEcannotrenderanadvisoryopinionontheinvestigationofwebsitesforpossiblecourt-orderedseizure.
a.WouldICErefrainfromseizingthedomainnameofawebsiteforinfringingonlinecontentpostedoruploadedbythatwebsite'susersifthewebsitequalifiesforthesafeharborfromliabilityprovidedby17U.S.C.§512(c)?
ICEcannotrenderanadvisoryopinionontheinvestigationofwebsitesforpossiblecourt-orderedseizure.
b.WouldICErefrainfromseizingthedomainnameofawebsiteforlinksorotherinformationlocationtoolspointingtoinfringingonlinecontentifthewebsitequalifiesforthesafeharborfromliabilityprovidedby17U.S.C.§512(d)?
ICEcannotrenderanadvisoryopinionontheinvestigationofwebsitesforpossiblecourt-orderedseizure.
6.OneofthedomainnamesseizedinOperationInOurSiteswas
torrent-flnder.eom,
Thiswebsitereportedlyhostednoinfringingcontentofitsown,butinsteadprovidedasearchengineforlinkstootherwebsites.HowdoesICEdistinguishbetweenthiswebsiteandmorepopularsearchengineslikeGoogleandBing,wherelinkstoasubstantialamountofinfringingcontentcanalsobefound?

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