Your Tax Dollars At Work

Last July, they first went after nine who wore the title “pirate” on their sleeves, and trafficked primarily in music and movies.
Then, they took down 82 more for selling counterfeit goods on the Monday after Thanksgiving (“Cyber Monday”). The net was expanded to include those vending “sports equipment, shoes, handbags, athletic apparel and sunglasses as well as illegal copies of copyrighted DVD boxed sets, music and software.”
On Valentine’s Day, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “muscle” division, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), seized 18 more web site domains for marketing fake luxury gifts.
The latest raid targeted sites that catered toward specific brands, such as Breitling, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Nike, Omega, Patek Philipe, Prada, Rolex, Tiffany & Co. and Timberland.
“Even on Valentine’s day, American business is under assault from counterfeiters and pirates,” said ICE Director John Morton. “These counterfeits represent a triple threat by delivering shoddy, and sometimes dangerous, goods into commerce, by funding organized criminal activities and by denying Americans good-paying jobs.”
Meanwhile, at their own headquarters a dozen blocks north and a half-dozen east of ICE’s in D.C., the Government Accountability office expresses a completely contradictory opinion: it is impossible to quantify the effect of counterfeit goods and (especially) intellectual property piracy on the national economy. (Of the two, the “theft” of intellectual property is popularly politically considered the greater threat.)
Which brings up a fair question: in a time of jobless economic stagnation, the imposition of severe federal and state austerity measures, and engagement in warfare galore, why is the government spending so much time and effort cracking down on those who traffic in “Adides” and torrents of digital media content?
One must only look to the first-ever digital global trade agreement, whose primary sponsor is the United States. Although it has not yet been ratified, it would seem that the U.S. is getting a head start on its implementation.
The secrecy behind this trade deal has been unprecedented, though that’s not stopping some watchdogs from gearing up to monitor (and resist) its implications.
In all present practicality, this simply means it’ll become slightly more difficult to get your digital media or counterfeit gift fix on and around U.S. consumer holidays. In the longer term, just like the World Trade Organization, it’ll have a cumulatively harmful effect on issues ranging from economic innovation to freedom of expression.