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A Torrent of Gov't Seizures in Online Piracy War

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - a division of the Department of Homeland Security - seized 77 Web domains related to illegal file-sharing. CBS/AP

The federal government is cracking down on online piracy of music and movies by seizing the Web addresses of a number of sites that facilitate illegal file-sharing.

According to a report in The New York Times, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — a division of the Department of Homeland Security — is handling the crackdown.

On Friday visitors to a number of sites that either host unauthorized copies of music and films or allow users to search for them on the Internet found a notice reading: "This domain name has been seized by ICE — Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court."

An ICE spokesperson told the Times that "court-ordered seizure warrants" had been executed against a number of domain names, including torrent-finder.com, onsmash.com, rapgodfathers.com and dajaz1.com.

The news blog TorrentFreak listed 77 Web addresses (most of which relate to counterfeit goods) that had been seized.

In June nine websites were sized as part of an ICE anti-movie piracy initiative called Operation in Our Sites.

CBS News and CNET Technology Analyst Larry Magid said not everyone is in agreement with this action.

"This is a very controversial practice, which of course is supported by companies in the video and motion picture and music business, but opposed by some civil rights activists and organizations who feel that it's an improper use of government authority, because it's shutting down an entire domain in an attempt to get at some allegedly infringing material," Magid said.