No doubt many of you have seen the logo above stating that “This domain name has been seized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) pursuant to a sezure warrant issued by a United States District Court under the authority of 18 U.S.C. sections 981 and 2323.” Following this paragraph is a statement that “Willful copyright infringement is a federal crime that carries penalties for first time offenders of up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution (17 U.SC. s. 506, 18 U.S.C. s. 2319)” confusing the issue of civil copyright infringement, criminal copyright infringement, and their various statutes. And, if the website or domain name owner is not frightened enough to consult an attorney based on the government website’s mention of federal prison and a fine that would bankrupt any average citizen, the supplanted website goes on to state that “Intentionally and knowingly (all legal terms of art) trafficking in counterfeit goods is a federal crime that carries penalties for first time offenders of up to ten years in federal prison, a $2,000,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution (18 U.S.C. s. 2320).”
As you know, the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC has taken a stand against those who abuse the federal courts to extort damages from unsuspecting internet users for the downloading of copyrighted materials. No doubt, you have read the work we have done and the articles we have written in our http://torrentlawyer.wordpress.com website.
Now, we are turning our attention towards those government entities tasked with protecting corporate interests such as the MPAA, the RIAA, and those production companies, copyright holders, and their attorneys wishing to use the government agency as a weapon to stop others who allegedly threaten the intellectual property rights of the holders.
Our goal is to speak to those individuals who have had their websites or their domain names seized, and to 1) coordinate with the governmental agencies involved in shutting them down to have them 2) release the seized website or the seized domain name, and 3) to restore it back to the website owner so that he can move on with his business or worldly pursuits.
On a personal note, the cause of the problem is that when you have a large government agency fighting something as nebulous as piracy or infringement of a company’s intellectual property rights (also referred to as “IPR”), with a broad stroke of a pen and limitless government power held by well-meaning and hard-working government employees who are simply trying to do their job, too many small business owners, bloggers, and internet users owning a domain name or a website expressing their almost controversial views wake up to find that their website was shut down or that their domain name was blocked. I expect that this happens too frequently without the government agency actually checking to see whether that website was actually infringing the copyrights, the trademarks, or the patents protected under the federal statutes. Then, pushing along a complaint form filed on their website by a corporate entity, the government agency tasks their lawyers to invoke the federal piracy statutes to block the website or its domain name. This is obviously a correctable problem.