Operation In Our Sites is an ongoing effort by the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center in the U.S. government, to detect and deter intellectual property violations on the Internet. The initiative specifically targets websites and their operators that distribute counterfeit and pirated items over the Internet, including counterfeit pharmaceuticals and pirated movies, television shows, music, software, electronics, and other merchandise as well as products that threaten public health and safety.
Operation In Our Sites was created as part of a much broader enforcement effort undertaken by the Obama Administration pursuant to the authority of the Pro IP Act. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy introduced the bill for the Pro IP Act, which President Bush signed into law on October 13, 2008.
The primary purpose of the Pro IP Act is to improve intellectual property enforcement by enhancing “civil and criminal penalties for intellectual property violations, [in order] to make commercial scale IP theft less profitable and easier to prosecute.” One way the Act increases intellectual property enforcement is by clearly and broadly applying seizure and forfeiture law to cases of intellectual property violations. The Act also created roles for key intellectual property personnel in the executive branch to coordinate efforts across agencies and provide greater resources for those efforts. (Berkley Edu).
Enforcement actions in connection with Operation In Our Sites involve “federal law enforcement investigating and developing evidence to obtain seizure warrants from federal judges.” (ICE). Governmental agencies may then seize the web site domain names, pursuant to the federal seizure warrants, and have websites re-directed to display a seizure notice, as opposed to offering the content or goods that violate U.S. copyrights or trademarks. The re-direct graphic bears the seals of the United States Department of Justice, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Federal law enforcement agents may also arrest suspects affiliated with the targeted websites and seize their assets including those deposited into affiliated PayPal accounts and other bank accounts.