Tuesday, 30 November 2010

FEDs seized 82 domain names

Today many of the Internet users, especially those making money on IP rights infringements, are afraid of upcoming Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, US Senate bill commonly known as COCIA introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee). COICA proposes amendments to Chapter 113 of Title 18 of the United States Code authorizing Attorney General to bring an in rem action against domain names "used by an Internet site dedicated to infringing activities". The general conclusion of the bill is that "upon receipt of such order, the domain name registrar or domain name registry shall suspend operation of, and lock the domain name". COICA paves the way to fast and efficient removal of the domain names pointing to web sites dedicated to infringing activities from DNS.

DHS seizes Internet
Bill S.3804 recently passed Senate Judiciary Committee (19-0) and is awaiting a vote from the Senate. Those responsible for inter alia IP rights infringements, were sleeping (quite) well, at least until the bill will (if ever) be passed... but suddenly domain names started disappearing from the net...

Current content of one of the sized sites today
Few days ago, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) surprised many, seizing 82 domain names of commercial websites involved in selling counterfeit goods. Operation called "In Our Sites v. 2.0" was spearheaded by the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) led by ICE's Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in coordination with the Criminal Division's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and nine U.S. Attorneys' Offices.

Plenty of choices
The biggest surprise for many is that neither provisions of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) or Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) has been applied (the latter is not yet in power). Department of Homeland Security (DHS) executed "traditional" court-ordered seizure warrants against a number of domain names preceded by undercover purchases from online retailers suspected of selling counterfeit goods.

With existing DMCA, current DHS practice and upcoming COICA are we facing more and more such seizures? The recent DHS actions show that digital-business becomes easier to be targeted by US-based Law Enforcement Agencies and more different practical tools and methods can be used to enforce the law:
  • (traditional) physical closure of the business and seizures of the equipment etc.,
  • (traditional) blocking (removing) the illegal content located on the servers,
  • (new) domain seizures at the Registrar level,
  • (new) domain seizures at the Registry level,
  • (new) removal of the Name Servers,
  • (new) blocking financial transaction provider from completing payment transactions between its customers located within the United States and the Internet site.
Are ccTLDs a safe-haven?
Are the criminals going to move to Internet-safe havens (ccTLDs) not being under US jurisdiction? Quite likely, but which (cc)TLDs are going to be the safe havens? Crooks will be soon forced to use not only domain names from outside the jurisdiction of US but also:
  • Registrars,
  • DNS service providers (Name Servers),
  • collocation or hosting providers,
  • financial transaction providers.
Welcome to the new world.

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  1. Coica 'll be a disaster for IP rights thieves.

  2. And ICA is VERY affraid of COICA --->

    There’s no advanced warning given to the domain owner saying “We think you’re infringing, but we’re going to give you a chance to tell us we’re wrong or to take down the infringing material or the infringing link in question.” Here, the first time you find out is when your domain has already been seized or shut down.

    yes, domainers need a "warning" :P