Homeland Security Hijacks Domain Names of Sites That Allegedly Linked to Copyrighted Materials

February 7th, 2011

That’s right.

Don’t believe it? Here it is, from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) / Department of Homeland Security:

The websites seized yesterday were popular “linking” sites – a type of website that provides access, or “links,” to other websites where pirated sporting and pay-per-view events are hosted. Users simply click on a link to begin the process of downloading or streaming to their own computer an illegal broadcast of a sporting event from the third party website that is hosting the stream.

Linking websites are popular because they allow users to quickly browse content and locate illegal streams that would otherwise be more difficult to find. Visitors to these websites are being redirected to a banner that advises them that the domain name has been seized by the New York office of ICE HSI because of criminal copyright violations.

Via: Tech Crunch:

The biggest problem is that Homeland Security seems to suggest — without a hint of doubt — that merely linking to infringing content is criminal copyright infringement. That is a huge stretch. The affidavit appears to make it clear that it believes that these sites are guilty of direct criminal copyright infringement, rather than any sort of contributory copyright infringement. As we’ve discussed in the past, the courts have tended to say that embedding and linking can be contributory infringement, but not direct infringement. Homeland Security and ICE may be in for a bit of legal trouble trying to prove that embedding is direct infringement.

As with the last batch of seizures, it quickly becomes clear that Homeland Security was taking orders from private companies, and made absolutely no effort whatsoever to determine if the assertions made by those private parties (who might be helped by having Homeland Security shut down competitors and/or more innovative solutions) were accurate.

Related: cryptogon.ch

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