The United States Department of Homeland Security has shut down over 70 web sites for hosting copyrighted material for download.
The Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency swooped on the cache of websites on the basis of court ordered seizure warrants against the associated web domain names. Bittorrent search site torrent-finder.com was the first to be ‘seized’ last night with visitors redirected to a message.
While defenders of bittorrent sites have said that the sites themselves do not offer the files for download, torrent-finder.com did not actually even host the .torrent files but rather offered an IFRAME’d web site front end for other torrent search results served by other web sites.
Information from the owner of torrent-finder.com appearing on activist website TorrentFreak appears to hijacking of exclusively .com domains from the very top level by ICANN, with the webmaster’s ISP unaware of the involuntary transfer.
An ICE representative confirmed the action but said as the shutdowns were part of an ongoing investigation, further details would not be revealed.
A list of seized domains appearing on TorrentFreak shows that the focus of the activity is on retailers offering counterfeit branded goods such as realtimberland.com, Louis-vuitton-outlet-store.com and usaburberryscarf.com.
With US authorities effectively in control of a number of top level domains such as .com, .net and .org, the immediate response of pirate groups and counterfeiters will most likely be to shift their web sites on domains managed by other countries.
Curiously the government agency released a video about the action which features an opening statement by Walt Disney Studios president Alan Bergman rather than the government agency: