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Domain Name Seizures by Homeland Security

     
5:00 pm on Nov 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The investigative arm of the Homeland Security Department appears to be shutting down websites that facilitate copyright infringement.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has seized dozens of domain names over the past few days...


This should get a lot of blood boiling.

Read about it here - [thehill.com ]
6:18 pm on Nov 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I agree with the goal of reducing copyright infringement, but there needs to be due process if someone's property, including problematic cyber-property, is going to be seized.

Where's the due process here? That's not clear from the article.
7:13 pm on Nov 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Just speculating off the top of my head, I suppose an argument may be that some of terrorism is financed through sales of bootlegged, knockoff and infringing goods. And, we know, of course, that combating terrorism trumps due process. Waterboarding anyone?
5:45 am on Nov 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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... due process ...

They write on the seized sites that some judge ordered it.

Since most of the affected sites seem to be Chinese, it'll be interesting to see how the Chinese government answers to this.
2:13 pm on Nov 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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due process


[Devil's Advocate]
I can take down an "offending website" by sending a letter to a webhost and Google (DMCA). AFTER the non-judicially authorized / legislatively authorized website take down - by little me - the aggrieved party can go to court to be relieved of the wrong and claim damages too.

In the context of the U.S. Congress granting such extraordinary powers to us little folks is this action by . . shudder . . the government . . really so far removed from the legislative policy underpinning the DMCA as to warrant coloring it an outrageous abridgement of right to due process? I write a letter to kill a website and that's "due process" but Homeland Security sends a letter or makes a phone call that preemptively kills a website by barring the site's operator access to the site's domain - for the same reasons as the DMCA authorizes preemptive (non-judicial) website "kills" by barring access to hosting - and the world grabs their guns and torches and marches on Washington?

Okay. So while you're all in D.C. how about rescinding the DMCA . . the Act that so many folks appear to consider a good thing . . for enabling citizens to stop copyright infringement . . without having to spend time and money going to court.
[/Devil's Advocate]

P.S. Sure, the idea of preemptive State action scares me, too, but this action - apparently against foreigh nationals, openly trashing intellectual property rights, while probably hiding behind false IDs and operating in jurisdictions known to show low regard for US IP rights - is a) not a procedural stretch from what's allow under the DMCA; and, b) is an exercise in State power futility - since there are dozens of other countries/ccTLDs that will offer the same infringers unrestricted domain name replacements . . and hosting . . :-/.
7:57 pm on Nov 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Question is - what have copyright violations to do with homeland security. It's always the same thing: Laws are made - only against those evil terrorists. If you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear. And then the laws are used for things that have nothing to do with fighting terrorists whatsoever.

Reminds me of my own country where a law from the 70s that was introduced to fight terrorists is now used to identify speeding violators and to hand out speeding tickets.
9:20 pm on Nov 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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And, FWIW, here's the N.Y. Times story - [nytimes.com ]
2:46 am on Nov 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the follow up Go60Guy (and nice to 'see' you here).

From the linked NYTimes article:

By Friday morning, visiting the addresses of a handful of sites that . . produced a notice that said, in part: This domain name has been seized by ICE Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court.

ICE office of Homeland Security Investigations executed court-ordered seizure warrants against a number of domain names, said Cori W. Bassett, a spokeswoman for ICE, in a statement.


So, the issuance of a warrant suggests a measure of due process preceded the "taking" of the domains.
9:14 am on Nov 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I can take down an "offending website" by sending a letter to a webhost and Google (DMCA).


1) The site owner can get it back up by sending a letter to them
2) The web host only has to take it down if its hosted in the US - the US dominance of search engines does make Google delistings troubling.
3) You have committed a crime (perjury)
9:18 am on Nov 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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See also: [webmasterworld.com...]
1:16 pm on Nov 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Since most of the affected sites seem to be Chinese, it'll be interesting to see how the Chinese government answers to this.

The Chinese government has no jurisdiction over the .com domain space.

.com is administered by Verisgn, a US-company which falls under US law and thus will have to comply with the formal seizure of one or more of its domains.
3:33 pm on Nov 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Well, a quick check and the sites that tend to infringe on me are still operating.

I can take down an "offending website" by sending a letter to a webhost and Google (DMCA).


Sure does, however imagine a content site with 20,000 documents (like mine) and envision how much time and effort is takes to submit these DMCA's. It is a constant battle for me and I really wish I could spend my time doing other more productive stuff other than chasing copyright infringers.

BTW, the sites that accept user submitted content are the ones causing me most of my challenges right now. Visitors are converting my webpage's to PDF's and republishing.
4:19 pm on Nov 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Question is - what have copyright violations to do with homeland security.


Homeland Security has many departments under it including ICE - Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Counterfeit material and presumably copyrighted material from overseas would fall under their jurisdiction.
6:22 pm on Nov 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The US government has repeatedly warned China regarding pirated goods. These many thefts lead to the loss of jobs worldwide but give China a booming economy of piracy. I believe the general public world wide could care less if thousands of these domains were shut down on a regular basis daily. The thieves were given the same due process they gave others when the Chinese government refused to do anything.
12:22 am on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Homeland Security Department and Domain names.

Why is "Homeland Security" enforcing copyright law with is a civil affair?

Wow, things changed a lot in 2 years.
12:48 am on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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evil china as pretense goes down well for the average american citizen. welcome to the group of internet censoring countries, land of the free. big brand industry in cooperation with government departments now deciding over the right to exist of your domain resp. business. now that the genie is out of the bottle, have fun!
12:54 am on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Here's the official news release from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - [ice.gov ]

Note that they're calling it the "Cyber Monday Crackdown".

[edited by: Go60Guy at 1:00 am (utc) on Nov 30, 2010]

1:00 am on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I can take down an "offending website" by sending a letter to a webhost and Google (DMCA).


It has been my experience that yes the host may take the site down but then the offending party can "lie" and claim the content is theirs and then get the site back up. The Host is not a lawyer or a court and thus they will not keep the site down without further proof. The offended party now has to hire a lawyer and take the matter to court and prove that the content is theirs.
1:33 am on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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from the official news release:

If the goods were confirmed as counterfeit or otherwise illegal, seizure orders for the domain names of the websites that sold the goods were obtained from U.S. magistrate judges.

well, ebay.com should be next on the agenda then, don't you think? ;)

while the consumer goods and content industry has their claims satisfied, other lobbyists from all kinds of areas already queue up. so the next affected websites could be dissident blogs and forums, unpopular news media, wikileaks.. just think about the possibilities with this new approach..
6:53 am on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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How about file/media sharing sites like rapidshare, youtube, etc?
7:38 am on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It will be interesting to see how this plays out when it comes to Google (with their search engine, they do link to copyright protected content), Youtube (despite the court ruling in favor of Youtube), Rapidshare and many others.

Also, since this blocking appears to happen just through changing the DNS entries, I think now is a VERY good time to invest into domains that are not in control of the US. (Which is sad in a way, because .com has this feeling of being "original" and "authentic".) Also, US-based hosting may not be a good idea in the long run.

In any event, this rings many alarm bells with me. Could well be that the Internet that we thought we know is coming to an end. It does not surprise me though, since the potential of the Net (for revealing inconvenient truths) is far too big to be ignored any longer by the governments of the world.
8:40 am on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It's a file sharing site, it must be evil... wth?

Shutting them down because they "can facilitate" is WRONG.

Shutting them down because they "did facilitate" is RIGHT, after due process.

Innocent until proven guilty... the feds are going to end up in court if they shut down a site for an arbitrary call without solid evidence that it committed a crime.
12:25 pm on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Wow, things changed a lot in 2 years.


You'll need to go back more than two years. Homeland Security predates the current administration, and whatever authority they have was designed in from day one.

I wish China would do something about the abuses that come from its country. I have lots of IPs in China blocked due to digging around my server in an attempt to exploit something.
1:09 pm on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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You'll need to go back more than two years. Homeland Security predates the current administration, and whatever authority they have was designed in from day one.


Factually wrong.

The authority for the Department of Homeland Security seizing domain names comes from the Senate Bill 3804: "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act" (September 20, 2010) introduced by Vermont Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy.
3:36 pm on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Ice, you should take G!, B! and Y! down.... G!, Y! and B! are the biggest torrent search engines, just try looking for virtually anything, like a movie for example, just add "torrent" to your query .....
4:08 pm on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Factually wrong.

The authority for the Department of Homeland Security seizing domain names comes from the Senate Bill 3804: "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act" (September 20, 2010) introduced by Vermont Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy.

Since when did legislation become law without being voted on by the House, Senate, or signed by the President? The bill you mentioned is dead. Sen. Wyden said he will prevent the bill from coming to the floor this session.

I think a quick perusal of the authorities granted to Homeland Security upon its creation will find many abuses to our civil liberties, rights, and privacy.

In keeping on topic, it would appear that the appropriate legal steps were taken regarding these domains, from what I've read.
8:20 pm on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Since when did legislation become law without being voted on by the House, Senate, or signed by the President? The bill you mentioned is dead.


1) Last week Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the bill, in which the Attorney General gains the right to shut down websites with a court order if copyright infringement is deemed “central to the activity” of the site.

2) The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, headed by Obama appointee Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, spearheaded the seizure of the domains.
9:02 pm on Nov 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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They took down all the P2P sites, why not take down the godfather sites like hero****, that link to rapidshare, fileserve, etc.
4:27 pm on Dec 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Why they can shut down a domain for a torrent site but not cut of wikileaks? What kind of a JOKE is that?
4:28 pm on Dec 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Why they can shut down a domain for a torrent site but not cut of wikileaks? What kind of a JOKE is that?
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