Published by LawTechie - December 15, 2010 - LawTechie

As previously reported at Techdirt, the Department of Homeland Security has begun to seize domains of potential copyright infringers without even waiting for the COICA law to authorize such seizure. Now other countries have followed suit and are working, presumably, with the DHS to get US domain hosts to shut down allegedly infringing sites without any notice to the site owners.

The MPAA and their colleagues in The Netherlands appear to have shut down more than two dozen BitTorrent, Usenet and other file-sharing sites today. Accused of linking to movies, music, TV shows and games, at least one domain appears to be redirecting to the website of Dutch anti-piracy outfit, BREIN.

What’s troubling here is the complete lack of due process with these seizures. What’s even more troubling is that we are not yet quite sure via what mechanism the foreign copyright enforcers got the domain hosts to shut down the allegedly infringing domains. Indeed, without the COICA in force, there is no legal mechanism, so we can only assume that domain hosts are being bullied into compliance by the DHS and/or other government agencies.

Opining on the censure issues here, Techdirt rightfully asks: What if “China doesn’t like reporting by an American site about China? What’s to stop it from trying to ‘seize’ that domain?”

Stay tuned for updates on this issue.

LawTechie is a blog focusing on trends in tech and digital media. Areas covered include intellectual property, cyberlaw, venture capital, transactions and litigation as they relate to the emerging sectors. The blog is edited by the firm's partner Tim Bukher with contributions from the firm's experts in their respective areas of law.

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