Justice Department Seizes Website & Domain: A Harbinger of Enforcement

The DEA has seized mansions, sports cars, speed boats. The IRS has seized documents, computers and office equipment and now the U.S. Justice Department has seized its first domain name and website — one that was dedicated to piracy.

The site and domain (www.isonews.com) belonged to David Rocci who ran what law enforcement officials say was the nation's the most active site dedicated to online computer piracy.

Rocci […] pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by trafficking in devices known as modification, or “mod,” chips. Those are computer chips used to circumvent copyright protections in such game systems at Playstation2 and XBox, allowing users to illegally play pirated sports, racing and other games on their televisions. Officials described the site, with more than 100,000 regular users and more than 140,000 hits each day, […] The officials plan to post information about the criminal case against Rocci and about copyright infringement on the Web site, along with links to Justice Department sites.

I think Rocci is pretty stupid. Considering all the traffic his site generated, maybe not that stupid. Yet according to The Washington Post he sold 450 “chips” over a two month period. That's an average of 15 sales per day. I'm sure if I scanned my “Junk (spam) Mail” I'd find a number of spammers offering hacks for Cable TV boxes, XBoxes and other boxes. I'm not sure how Rocci marketed his site, but I'm sure he spammed and those that did buy certainly created a little viral marketing network that also bought into his scam.

It's cases like these that overshadow legitimate copying of copyrighted material for personal use. Unfortunately, these illegal activities get more grand standing and hinder efforts for those areas of the DMCA that do more harm than good for both citizens and creative artists. But what's more scary is the fact that the U.S. Justice Department has set a precedent in seizing a domain and website. Even more interesting is the fact that due to the large volume of traffic Rocci's site receives, the Justice Department will use the site as a public awareness program to illustrate just what happens to people and their sites if they blatantly profit from piracy.

[…] because the Web site was “facilitating” the crime and because Justice Department officials wanted to send a message to other violators, they came up with the idea of seizing the site. Officials said this could be a harbinger of enforcement actions […]

thanks to rob. when you gonna blog? – for the link