US Online Counterfeit Crackdown Raises Global Policy Questions 29/11/2010 by Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You also have the opportunity to offer additional support to your subscription, or to donate. In a move aimed to protect domestic intellectual property rights, the United States Justice Department today announced the suspension of 82 internet domain names on suspicion of selling counterfeit sports equipment, clothes and DVDs, music and software. But some used the opportunity to engage in scaremongering such as safety of families from harmful counterfeits, though none of the products involved appeared to fit that fear. US Attorney General Eric Holder called the announcement, timed to coincide with “cyber Monday” – a day created to encourage online shopping – “an important step in our ongoing efforts to protect the interests and safety of consumers, to ensure the strength of our markets, and to safeguard the intellectual property rights of innovators and entrepreneurs.” He said the actions targeted: “online retailers of a diverse array of counterfeit goods, including sports equipment, shoes, handbags, athletic apparel, sunglasses, and illegal copies of DVDs, music and software.” Nothing unsafe sounding there, unless you count bad sneakers, bad fashion, or bad taste in music. Rights holder groups such as the Motion Picture Association of America (which called the 82 the “‘worst of the worst’ rogue websites”), the Recording Industry Association of America and the Copyright Alliance issued statements hailing the action to protect copyrighted and trademarked content online. But the US Chamber of Commerce quickly aimed the announcement to stoke conversation among families around the kitchen table. It acknowledged that the cases targeted luxury goods, jewelry, and sports memorabilia, then shifted the focus by lecturing, “But counterfeit products do not have to comply with government or industry manufacturing standards. They are frequently of poor quality and can pose serious health or safety risks to unwary consumers. Maryland Attorney General Gansler has posted on his website some important steps that online shoppers can take to protect themselves from dangerous counterfeits sold on the Internet. Everyone loves a bargain, but exposing your family to faulty and dangerous products is no bargain.” The action could also raise a question of whether one government has the right to shut down a domain name worldwide. But then the US does still have unique control of underlying changes to the internet. The domain names cited in the case are listed here [pdf]. "US Online Counterfeit Crackdown Raises Global Policy Questions" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.