Immigrations and Customs Enforcement seizes Spain-based stream linking site even though courts in that country have repeatedly ruled the site is legal in that country.
The US’ Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is proving that everybody’s fears could come true if the controversial Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) is passed into law.
The downsides of the measure, which would give the Department of Justice an “expedited process” for seizing sites in order to “prevent the importation into the United States of goods and services offered by an Internet site dedicated to infringing activities,” is already on full display with news that ICE has seized a foreign site with no US ties, and that has already been ruled legal by courts in that country.
Rojadirecta.org, a popular site (ranked #70 in the world) hosting links to streams of a variety of sporting events, was seized by ICE earlier today as part of its ongoing “Operation In our Sites” which it has previously said is necessary to get rid of sites that “threaten economic opportunities and financial stability” and “suppress innovation and destroy jobs.”
The only problem this time around is that Spanish courts have already ruled on more than one occasion that the site is abiding by Spanish law.
“A very long judicial process (more than 3 years) where have worked the Spanish police, the Spanish Attorney General’s Office and the Spanish justice, ALL of them defending or deciding the legality of the site,” reads a message greeting visitors on a redirected Rojadirecta.com.
“By closing rojadirecta.org this way, the domain dot org number 70 more visited in the world, show to any country in the World the lack of control over the generic domain names (.com, .org, .net, etc.) which are controlled by American companies and which the US authorities are censoring from the last months as they want without a legal process with the chance to defense yourself,” it continues. “Obviously we are already seeking legal advice and we will do the same in the US at the beginning of the day.”
Rojadirecta appears to have regained control over the homepage of the .org version of the site, but site content and streaming link pages have now been switched over to Rojadirecta.com, Rojadirecta.me, Rojadirecta.es, and Rojadirecta.in.
Now ICE might think it’s doing the right thing by seizing sites it’s convinced are harming copyright holders, but what does it think would happen if foreign countries began seizing the domain names of legal US-based sites? Take, for example, if Tunisia had tried to seize Twitter for “inciting revolution” or Thailand had tried to seize YouTube for hosting videos that insult the King?
This news ought to be a wake up call for anybody that hasn’t yet heard about the COICA.