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WinMX World :: Forum  |  Discussion  |  WinMx World News  |  Pirate Bay and MegaUpload Escape Domain Seizure by US
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Author Topic: Pirate Bay and MegaUpload Escape Domain Seizure by US  (Read 392 times)

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Offline Blitzen

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Pirate Bay and MegaUpload Escape Domain Seizure by US
« on: July 08, 2010, 04:34:29 am »

This has got to be a worrying development for domain owners and you have to wonder is this the begining of a new approach.


http://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-and-megaupload-escape-domain-seizure-by-us-100707

Quote
As part of an initiative to crack down on Internet piracy and counterfeiting, the US Government recently took action against sites making available movies and TV shows. Arrests did not feature in the action, but controversially the authorities seized site domain names instead. TorrentFreak has learned that both The Pirate Bay and MegaUpload domains were also on the target list.

In the final days of last month, US authorities targeted several sites they claimed were connected to the streaming of movies and TV shows. ‘Operation In Our Sites‘ culminated in the apparent shutting down of 9 sites – TVShack.net, Movies-Links.TV, FilesPump.com, Now-Movies.com, PlanetMoviez.com, ThePirateCity.org, ZML.com, NinjaVideo.net and NinjaThis.net – although not in the conventional manner.

Rather than rounding the operators up physically or threatening them with ruinous legal action, the US Government seized at least 7 of the domains instead, and pointed them to their own server which carried an ominous warning.

The action came following recent threats from Vice President Joe Biden and Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel which were directed at those offering unauthorized movies and music. Nevertheless, the domain seizure route came as quite a surprise.

That said, domain seizures are nothing new. In 2008 the Governor of Kentucky grabbed around 140 domains connected with online gambling but we have to go back seven years to find a comparable copyright related case.

In February 2003, the US DOJ obtained the domain of release news site IsoNews.com after its owner pleaded guilty to selling Xbox ‘Enigmah’ mod chips, a violation of the DMCA. However, the site’s domain wasn’t taken ‘just like that’, it was handed over by its owner in a plea deal. So, how did the authorities manage to take control of the streaming-connected sites so easily? The answer lies with ICANN.

Amongst other things, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the body responsible for managing the web’s DNS system to ensure that users of the Internet can find websites by using domain names. Coincidentally, last month Internet policy and security research group KnujOn published a report which suggested that many dozens of Internet domain registrars (who sell domains to the public) could be violating their agreements with ICANN, including but not limited to the blocking of Whois information.

The report, which concerned domains through which unlicensed pharmaceuticals are sold online, was later cited by John Horton, the head of a LegitScript, a company which aims to ensure the legitimacy of online pharmacies. He noted the importance of pointing out to domain name registrars that “there is no reason to knowingly facilitate criminal activity including activity that violates intellectual property. Those are the choke points of the Internet.”

Of course, one such choke point is located a small but significant step above the registrars with ICANN itself and it seems the organization has been working both closely and freely with the authorities in respect of these recent domain seizures.

A source that has proved 100% reliable in the past told TorrentFreak that ICANN transferred the movie and TV related domains to the US authorities because it was agreed that they were violating their terms and conditions. We were also informed that, as mentioned in the KnujOn report, some registrars also violate ICANN’s terms and conditions by anonymizing the ownership of domains. This, we were told, could make other domains in a similar state targets to be seized by the authorities in the future.

So the basic formula appears to be this – the US Government felt the sites in question were illegal and since they were accessible from the US, they should do something about them. On its part, ICANN has no problem cooperating with the Government and is happy to act on terms of use violations either by domain owners or domain registrars.

Clearly this development comes as somewhat of a surprise, so naturally we were keen to find out where this policy could end. How, for example, would it affect some of the biggest sites? Naturally The Pirate Bay came to mind.

Shockingly, TorrentFreak was informed that wheels were also set in motion to seize The Pirate Bay domain. But for reasons that remain unclear that didn’t come to pass. Our source believes that the US authorities would’ve had to contact the Swedish authorities on the matter first, but that since there is already an unfinished criminal process against the site, the time was not considered right. There is an implication, however, that patience won’t last forever and may run out after the founders’ upcoming court appeal.

Another site in the cross hairs appears to be MegaUpload. Although a domain seizure was suggested, it now seems that another route has been taken, at least for now. We have also been informed by other sources that further sites are being watched although it proved impossible to discover their names.

Clearly the seizure of domains on terms and conditions violations is a worrying development but one that could remain unresolved for sometime. Are the operators of the above-mentioned streaming sites likely to turn up in a US court to argue for their safe return? Hardly….


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