Battle against online piracy heats up

New initiative already seized nine domain names

The crackdown on the online piracy of movies and TV shows has begun in earnest.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York today launched “Operation In Our Sites,” to take down websites that offer first run movies and TV shows for download.

The initiative, unveiled by ICE assistant secretary John Morton and reps from the major studios, including Disney and Paramount, and guilds, has already seized nine domain names of dot coms, including Movieslinks.tv, Planetmoviez.com, ZML.com, Thepiratecity.org, Filespump.com, TVShack.net, Now-Movies.com, NinjaVideo.net and NinjaThis.net that had offered “The A-Team,” “Avatar,” “Lost” and “Scrubs.”

Movieslinks alone attracted 3.3 million visitors last month, with 37,000 having watched “Sex and the City 2” in a single day. NinjaVideo offered “Iron Man 2” two days before of its release.

The sites have been shut down. Agents from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations also seized assets from banks, Paypal, investment and advertising accounts, and executed four residential search warrants in several states for other ventures.

“We are dedicated to protecting the jobs, the income and the tax revenue that disappear when organized criminals traffic in stolen movies for their profit,” Morton said.

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