This may end up topping the confusion you get when you think of Sony selling CDs online and even Wal-Mart asking customers to bring in their DVDs to make a digital copy. We know that Cyber Monday is usually the day the media picks to hype up overpriced "deals" and consumers spend millions to break sales records each year. However, what you may not know is that federal agencies also use this day to take down criminals and scammers. For the third year in a row, US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) worked with a group of State-side and international law enforcement agencies to take down over 130 Internet domains that have all been found to be selling fake or duplicated merchandise, in an operation called "Operation in Our Sites." I have to give it to the government for being clever on this one.
Among the sites seized and taken down were an overwhelming number of sporting good operations, counterfeit Louis Vuitton shops and others, but the ones I want to focus on are the sites that were selling duplicated DVDs. ICE was able to take down three prominent sites, dvdhood.com, dvdsetshop.com and tvdvdset.com, along with other less-known names. ICE said they were able to seize the domains and make arrests from undercover purchases they made over the course of their investigation.
ICD director, John Morton, said in a statement,
This operation is a great example of the tremendous cooperation between ICE and our international partners at the National Intellectual Property Rights, or IPR Center. Our partnerships enable us to go after criminals who are duping unsuspecting shoppers all over the world. This is not an American problem, it is a global one.
The yearly event has been able to lead to the shut down of more than 1,600 sites that have been caught selling illegal merchandise since 2010. This year, Europol became a member of the IPR and joined the global hunt as well.
Europol became a member of the IPR Center this year, and I am glad to be able to announce these operational successes. IPR theft is not a harmless and victimless crime. It can cause serious health and safety risks, and it undermines our economy.
Now, while I am all for the takedown of people selling knock-off goods as described here and by no means want anyone to think I am siding with the criminals on this one, there is something I want to point out. I want to make sure we all realize there are sites out there that sell duplications of DVDs that they will mail to your house, and those sites were shut down. Now that we understand this fact, I want to also stress that there are thousands of sites out there that have this media available for free, digitally, and those sites, with the exception of MegaUpload and other file-hosting sites, have a pretty good track record of staying up and running.
There are also other, easily accessible options out there that prevent the whole "order something you could download or stream and wait for it to arrive in the mail" thing. Just like CDs I can order online and going to Walmart to place an order on UltraViolet, this is the year of 2012 and things like this shouldn't be happening anymore. So, shame on anyone who still participates in even the legal form of buying DVDs online. Even more shame on the guys in charge of dvdhood.com for not going the route of Aereo or Zediva, where you could've just streamed the one DVD you probably stole to make the copies in the first place. At least if you did that there'd be an interesting lawsuit to follow with a precedence to be set at the end. Instead, you guys just end up and jail and I have to look for another thing to make fun of.