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US claims all .com and .net websites are in its jurisdiction

 1:37 pm on Jul 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

This sounds pretty radical to me:

The US's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is targeting overseas websites it believes are breaking US copyrights whether or not their servers are based in America or there is another direct US link, said Erik Barnett, the agency's assistant deputy director.

As long as a website's address ends in .com or .net, if it is implicated in the spread of pirated US-made films, TV or other media it is a legitimate target to be closed down or targeted for prosecution, Barnett said. While these web addresses are traditionally seen as global, all their connections are routed through Verisign, an internet infrastructure company based in Virginia, which the agency believes is sufficient to seek a US prosecution.

As well as sites that directly host or stream pirated material, ICE is also focusing on those that simply provide links to it elsewhere. There remains considerable doubt as to whether this is even illegal in Britain the only such case to be heard before a British court, involving a site called TV-Links, was dismissed by a judge in February last year.


Erik Barnett, assistant deputy director of ICE said told the Guardian that the agency will actively target web sites that are breaking US copyright laws even if their servers are not based in the US. According to Barnett, all web sites that use the .com and .net TLDs are fair game and that, since the Domain Name Service (DNS) indexes for those web sites are routed through the US-based registry Versign, ICE believes it has enough to "seek a US prosecution". [theinquirer.net...]



 1:56 pm on Jul 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

um yes just asking for the ITU and the UN to take an interest not that they already havn't been sniffing around taking control of internet governance.

one does wonder if Mr Burnett is a fan of Sheriff J.W. Pepper :=)


 2:32 pm on Jul 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

The US government is effectively trying to make these US ccTLDs not global TLDs. That is the jurisdiction in which they are registered so that's their privilage.


 3:18 pm on Jul 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Well this is old news from at least my perspective. I don't have the source link just yet. In 1998 or 2003, the TLD of .com and .net were assigned legal control to the Department of Commerce. and the legal fight from EFF ( or another group ) was to move the control to the UN or another governing neutral body. It never happened. Currently I don't know what/whom government body controls the TLDs

what you all need to do, if you have a worry about this is sort of thing is start with the following guild lines


this should help, the most important aspect of this is the DMCA registered agent and rules. Cost about 200ish per site ( they say 105, but some other cost may come ). This will slow them down.

The trick in understanding how the government works ( and my personal experience with dealings with the US Government) is understanding the rules, since everything is written with a way out if you did nothing wrong, or if in violation, how to correct the problem without liability.

I hope this bit of knowledge helps everyone in the community.

have a great day.


 4:10 pm on Jul 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

it would be cool if they went after all copyright violators - not just those violating big business (eg movie companies etc)

... of course this is unlikely to happen


 5:09 pm on Jul 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

What about .org?

Pass the Dutchie

 6:15 pm on Jul 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

surely the US powers that be feel that the entire web falls under thier jurisdiction.


 6:55 pm on Jul 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Unless copyrights are being broken, who cares? And if copyrights are being broken then those sites breaking them deserve all they get.


 7:03 pm on Jul 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

totally agree with nomis5


 7:07 pm on Jul 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Unless copyrights are being broken, who cares?

I care because of the possibility for abuse in other ways.

You can't implement a .com tax if not all .com's are under your clear jurisdiction.

You can't activate a complete tld shutdown if not all of them are under your control.

Here's a thought. If a US citizen peddles pirated movies on ANY tld he can be prosecuted in the US. If a NON US person peddles pirated movies on ANY tld the US must work with that countries authorities to press charges. Radical idea huh?

This wreaks of a control grab with many layers of ulterior motive behind it.


 7:15 pm on Jul 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Unless copyrights are being broken, who cares?

Those outside the US and, most importantly, those who are e.g. falsely accused of infringing a copyright (for example, by a competitor).


 8:10 pm on Jul 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

If it was just a Copyright thing I wouldn't be too worried - however it is the implications that if you run a site that has anything that is illegal in the US on a .com or .net you could be liable for shutdown.

So what are the implications for Internet Gambling, Cafe's in Amsterdam, Radical Muslim sites or anything else that happens to offend the US authorities.


 8:26 pm on Jul 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

And if copyrights are being broken then those sites breaking them deserve all they get.

Whose copyrights? The ones in the country where the server is physically located, the ones where the person-up-top lives, or US copyright? Note in particular that the US does not follow the rule of the shorter term, so a work may be out of copyright in its own country-- say, a book by a Canadian that was never published anywhere else-- but still nominally under copyright in the US.

If you are talking about a work that was published last year by a currently living human, it will be under copyright no matter where you are-- the differences only become evident once you go back a few decades-- so what has the US got to say about it? Let the server's own country do the prosecuting. And if the country in question has an established record of turning a blind eye, that's no longer a matter of individual prosecution but of sanctions and International Discussion.


 10:32 pm on Jul 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

.com has always been global, it's for commercial business.
isn't the .us the USA tld?


 12:00 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

um impressed, Brett reading the guardian.co.uk .. that well known UK left wing newspaper .. in the sense that someone in the us actually realises there is a world beyond the usa.

However .coms are international, therefore need reference to the International Court in the Netherlands .. opps .. USA doesn't recognise the International court

stir , stir , stir , hide behind sofa .. feel some internet gambling legal stuff coming .. pay off the USA for a few mill and they go away happy.
edit - spelling as usual

[edited by: johnhh at 12:03 am (utc) on Jul 6, 2011]


 12:02 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

isn't the .us the USA tld?

No, the US got there first so they're unmarked. Even the federal government is .gov, not .gov.us. Similarly .mil, meaning US military, and .edu, formerly meaning accredited universities. Individual states are .ca.gov and so on, not to be confused with .gov.ca which would be the Canadian government. (It actually isn't-- it's .gc.ca* federal, .gov.nn.ca for provinces-- but that's their decision.)

* I had to ask a Canadian-- well, a Newfoundlander-- what "gc" stands for. Oops.


 1:43 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

What about .org?

.org used to be managed by Verisign also but it got split off onto it own. Public Interest Registry is the registrant for .org. ICE is not targeting .org at this time. However if people start to migrate from .com/.net to .org to avoid ICE, then ICE can respond by claiming .org under their jurisdiction as well because .org is also in the USA similar to Verisign.

As an unintended consequences, all these people who buy/sell domain names for a living, just saw their investment portfolio dropped in value. Who would want to buy a domain name from now on that can be seized without due process.


 3:58 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

The point of this article is the enforcement processes that can be taken against the accused, i.e. extradition from the resident country, despite no connections whatsoever (!) to the US.

If the US wants to claim jurisdiction over .com I think that more or less goes without saying. There should therefore be no crying if they shut down the domain. Tough cookies. It's their playground.

Abusing international crime laws in the way that the Guardian rightly warns us of, the example here being the O'Dwyer case, is a whole different story.

If O'Dwyer was a blatant pirate I have little sympathy for his feeling the weight of the law over his head - but without doubt it should be British law, and what fellow citizen would disagree it would be unconscionable to ship him off across the Atlantic to a foreign country and cast him to the mercy of an alien law the jurisdiction of which he was never under?


 4:17 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is an unreasonable requirement, doomed to be recognized


 5:02 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

The solution is to make all these offenses into capital crimes. Other countries could then fall back on established policy and flatly refuse to extradite anyone to the US, ever, so it's no use asking.


 6:04 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

A more constructive solution would be to teach prisoners in overcrowded prisons on how to write links pointing to pirate sites. Ship them across the pond and have the Yanks use their taxes to pay for their upkeep. It's a Win-Win for everyone. Overcrowded prisons will be fixed and the Yanks gets to prosecute link pirates.


 7:42 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

For anyone who is not American, It's quite troubling to have seemingly global TLDs like .com or .net, the foundation of many online businesses, under control of another country like the US, at the whim of any local flaky politician trying to win votes in a region that doesn't concern those companies, or may not share the same values at all. Sure, everyone is in favor of enforcing copyright infringements, we're publishers in one way or another, so we can understand. But what about other unforeseen events in the future? What if the US fall under some theocratic spell and decide to close down all .com domains that promote "impure" literature and pictures? Or "unamerican" political ideology? Or "forbidden" scientific research? I mean for a while there it felt pretty close ten years ago.


 8:28 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

I agree koan, but on the other hand a 'commission' never works. Imagine having Russia, China, South Africa...Guatemala, EU with its 27 members, USA, Belarus etc trying to reach an agreement.

But USA should stop overreaching, it's getting really, really too much. Now they are forcing foreign banks to more or less report any acct of US citizens to the IRS, even that of expats.


 8:57 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

If they want to stop piracy they just need to fix 1 thing.. DMCA law... DMCA has allowed sites like Rapidshare, fileserve, hotfile, filesonic, depositfiles, megaupload, mediafire to earn millions of dollars in subscription renewals every year using pirates to do all the nasty work of uploading pirated content...


 9:05 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

if this law passes, what happens if some money making conartist sues you in a US court? If you can't fly there or hire a lawyer to represent you, courts will usually set a default judgement against you.. in this case your .COM goes to the conartist?


 9:11 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

Sadly, this is not a legal forum (and I'm glad it is not... I'm Tangor, a recovering webmaster) and legal discussions can be quite confusing, premature, inappropriate, inapplicable, boring, exciting, crazy... Unfortunately theft is theft and even the thieves know that, regardless of which country they live in. There are two things large in the world these days (which most will recognize as being LARGE): the US Government and HOLLOWOOD (sic). It is HOLLOWOOD (sic) which pulls the strings, pays the lobbyists, etc. so this will not go away because the thieves do not go away and any of us who are not thieves of content know that... and those of us who are thieves of content know that, too. Software comes in second at several billion dollars per year...TOO!

This "Not a Grab, but Statement of Fact" is something I think should be done... but having lived 60 years under the beneficence of the "gubbermint" (sic) I know that fellow from the government come to help me is going to screw the pooch somewhere along the line. So, this question will get traction, will probably happen sometime in the future--and should--but will also have collateral damage along the way. It is the latter part that makes me queasy.


 9:14 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

yes the danger here is what if say Senator Kinsey (or what ever dodgy ltittle F$%k) goes after major UK company's like Rank (rank.com) who have major interests in gambling.

It realy seems to me that Mr Barnett is acting way out of his pay grade here.


 9:22 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

hmm sounds like the us gov wants to be the world police im not sure they will get that in europe. another thing what about images many sites have images which are also uploaded by user or sent per email to be uploaded, there the DMCA would help I think if they go that low with there clams, but each and every image mostly has there creator so that would be a long process. I personally dont think they go that low, also be cause of DMCA where you can remove the image in question, which is still a shame if the take down is not correct.


 10:55 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

Copyright aside. What are the real wider, long term implications of this?

Specifically, to the differing legality in the US and other countries? Things like differing consumer rights, tax legislation, privacy and products (Cuban cigars anyone?). Who's jurisdiction is my .com website going to be run under?

Is the US effectively passing a law which grants them legal oversight of .com and .net websites? Or am I misunderstanding.


 11:45 am on Jul 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

Generic top-level domain. Generic means generic, i.e. not country-related/controlled. If the US does not honour this principle, the rest of the world could create an alternate DNS system, which would be a disaster both for the US and for the rest of the world.

By the way, gov, edu and mil are not generic, they are US-only. In contrast, com, net and org are perfectly generic. For evidence, see the .us domain.

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