Over the weekend, the U.S. government’s war on piracy took an Orwellian turn. Without any notice, the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement office seized nearly 80 domains for copyright and trademark violations including Torrent-Finder.com, a well known BitTorrent aggregator. The websites now all display the graphic below.
Unfortunately, though the government has seized these domains, a majority of the sites are already back on the net via alternative URLs. Market Ticker’s Karl Denninger explains: “That’s a lot of staff attorney time and trouble to get a big fat nothing out of it, which is exactly what they get going down this road. Why? Because all they can do is redirect the domain pointers which will do exactly nothing when the sites re-register under a top-level domain not under the US Government’s jurisdiction – and there are lots of them.”
Basically, the U.S. government only has jurisdiction over .com domains and those controlled by Verisign. Many of the sites, including Torrent-Finder have moved to .info domains and are already up and running. Others are protesting via their Twitter and social media pages.
While the government has the right to enforce copyright laws, the Department of Homeland Security has decided to ignore the procedures laid out in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act as well as the COICA bill (Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act) that recently passed through the senate, which would call for a blacklist of URLs and a virtual censoring of the web. However, under COICA, such immediate seizures would not be possible.
Did the DHS seize these domains simply because it may not have the chance in a few months? Is it right to shut down a site without notifying the owner or providing him any avenue for recourse?