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ICE Docs: Linking to Copyrighted Material Enough for Domain Seizure

ICE Docs: Linking to Copyrighted Material Enough for Domain Seizure

Complaint for Forfeiture filed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement reveals that many are merely sites that link to copyrighted material hosted elsewhere, yet should be seized because they “facilitate the commission” of copyright infringement.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, finally filed a Complaint for Forfeiture against 8 of the more than 82 domain names seized late last month as part the ongoing ”Operation In Our Sites.

Seizing the domain names was the first step in the forfeiture process, and publishing a notice of the forfeiture action is the next step towards formally taking them away from their owners.

Owners of the domain names are given 60 days from the day the complaint was first published (December 17th, 2010) to contest the action in court.

So far a Complaint for Forfeiture has been filed against the following sites:

  • TVSHACK.NET (11-ICE-000239)
  • MOVIES-LINK.TV (11-ICE-000240)
  • ZML.COM (11-ICE-000241)
  • NOW-MOVIES.COM (11-ICE-000242)
  • THEPIRATECITY.ORG (11-ICE-000243)
  • PLANETMOVIEZ.COM (11-ICE-000244)
  • FILESPUMP.COM (11-ICE-000245)

It’s all a fairly straightforward process, but the complaint filed by ICE reveals a troubling state of affairs in copyrightland,

For example, it targeted TVShack.net for linking to other sites that allow users to illegally stream and/or download copyrighted material. TVShack is never accused of actually hosting any copyrighted material, just linking to other sites that do.

It gives four examples of occasions on which ICE agents were able to access copyrighted movies, but in each case the movies we’re hosted elsewhere: zshare.net, DivxDen.com, and NovaMov.com, all of which are still online by the way.

It’s the same with the seven other sites mentioned in this forfeiture action. They linked to copyrighted material that was illegally hosted elsewhere.

Also troubling is that the documents reveal heavy involvement by the MPAA in the case. It was the one who likely made a top 10 list of “notorious sites” for ICE to act against in the first place, but the documents report that in each case agents confirmed with the MPAA that the movies were still playing in theaters at the time, and that the it had not authorized “their third party distribution over the Internet.”

The latter part may not be so much of a concern is the fact that websites that link to copyrighted material can be seized for because they “facilitate the commission” of copyright infringement. If that’s the case then shouldn’t sites like Google be held accountable?

Stay tuned.

[email protected]

[TD via CS]

Jared Moya
I've been interested in P2P since the early, high-flying days of Napster and KaZaA. I believe that analog copyright laws are ill-suited to the digital age, and that art and culture shouldn't be subject to the whims of international entertainment industry conglomerates. Twitter | Google Plus


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