Federal judge orders hundreds of sites removed from search engines

Ars Technica reports that a federal judge in Nevada has ruled that Chanel, maker of fragrances and other luxury goods, can seize domains of websites selling counterfeits of its products and have them all transferred to GoDaddy. In addition to this, the judge ordered that "all Internet search engines" and "all social media websites" must de-index the domain names and remove them from search results - which is about as close to erasing them from the Internet as you can get.

The order comes from United States District Court Judge Kent Dawson of the District of Nevada. The search engines and social media websites named by Dawson to de-index the offending domains are Bing, Facebook, Google, Google+, Twitter and Yahoo!. Of course, "all Internet search engines" and "all social media websites" is quite a bit broader than that. As of now, it does not appear that Bing or Google have complied with this order yet.

The sites were targeted by Chanel after the company hired a Nevada investigator, who bought products from three of the 228 sites. Upon the products' arrival, a Chanel official reviewed them and they were declared counterfeit. This is apparently enough reason for Judge Dawson to order all these domains seized and transferred to GoDaddy.

This news arrives as Internet backlash of the Stop Online Piracy Act continues to swell. Lawyer Venkat Balasubramani, commenting about this Chanel case, wrote the following: "The fight against SOPA may be a red herring in some ways, since IP plaintiffs are fashioning very similar remedies in court irrespective of the legislation. Thus, even if SOPA is defeated, it may turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory—opponents may win the battle but may not have gained much as a result."

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