The Department of Homeland security is engaged in an operation to seize domain names that are suspected of distributing copyrighted material. The effort, described by the agency—which is being conducted in cooperation with the Department of Justice—as a way to ensure that the activities of people who distribute properties that are under copyright are not distributed freely on the Internet, the program has raised some concerns among lawmakers, according to a report in TG Daily.
The effort, named “Operation In Our Sites” by the agencies, is slated to go keep going all the way through 2011 and, possibly, further into the future, according to the report. The operation targets sites such as bit torrent sites that allow users to download materials, which sometimes include pirated movies, albums and books. The DHS claims that the effort has had a deterrent effect and claims that 81 of the sites that had been the most active in offering pirated materials have already shut down, according to TG Daily.
Distributing copyrighted materials is a violation of US law, though many of the servers that provide the service are outside the US and, thus, not subject to the nation’s law enforcement agencies. The Pirate Bay and other torrent sites have long been pursued by various organizations for alleged copyright infringement. Most of the larger sites remain online and functioning.
According to the report, US Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, is concerned that the domains that have been seized have been seized because the DHS believes that they would win if they were taken to court over the matter. The senator also expresses concern over the lack of oversight of the program, due to the fact that the sites are not being offered a chance to defend them before their domains are seized and shut down by the DHS.
Recently, the DHS was embarrassed by their erroneous seizure of thousands of sites in a sting intended to target child pornographers. The sites were replaced with a message that it had been taken down due to distributing such materials, much to the horror of site owners who were erroneously targeted.