Apparently we have that pesky terrorist situation under control and the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security have moved on to more pressing issues. Enforcing copyright infringement.
The domains of torrent sites that link to illegal copies of music and movie files and sites that sell counterfeit goods were seized this week by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security. Visitors to such sites as Torrent-finder.com, 2009jerseys.com, and Dvdcollects.com found that their usual sites had been replaced by a message that said, “This domain name has been seized by ICE–Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court.”
The seizures came after a Senate committee unanimously approved a controversial proposal earlier this month that would allow the government to pull the plug on Web sites accused of aiding piracy. The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) allows a Web site’s domain to be seized if it “has no demonstrable, commercially significant purpose or use other than” offering or providing access to unauthorized copies of copyrighted works.
The proposal has garnered support from dozens of the largest content companies, including video game maker Activision, media firms NBC Universal and Viacom, and the Motion Picture Association of America and Recording Industry Association of America lobbying groups. However, critics such as engineers and civil liberties groups say the COICA could balkanize the Internet, jeopardize free speech rights, and endanger legitimate Web sites.
Apparently some, if not all of these websites were seized without any prior warning or complaints. “My domain has been seized without any previous complaint or notice from any court!” the owner of Torrent-Finder told TorrentFreak, which listed more than 70 domains that were apparently part of the massive seizure.
Even the hosting companies were in the dark. When contacted, GoDaddy, which was hosting at least one of these sites, was unaware that the sites had even been seized saying, “this must have come directly from ICANN.”
Is it really appropriate for the DHS to be doing the bidding of big corporations?