It is quite fascinating that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is getting involved in fighting against the recent slew of domain name seizures. See their article here. Apparently it is becoming a common tactic for the RIAA to use the Department of Homeland Security and ICE to seize websites on their behalf in order to stop alleged copyright infringing content from being shared over the web.
The problem with this “seize and block the website and domain name first, ask questions later” approach is that it is dependent on the predatory organizations guarding the so-called “hen house.” There is no due process which forces the RIAA to immediately render a decision as to whether content shared is infringing the artists’ copyrights or not, which allows the RIAA to use the Department of Homeland Security as their patsy while they drag their feet and put the domain name owner out of business.
As of this morning, Congress sent a letter (below) to Attorney General Eric Holder and Janet Napalitano objecting to their recent domain name seizure activities.
Quite frankly, I have a problem with those in the position of government acting in ways that damage the rights of domain name registrants and website owners. Up front, I have nothing wrong with the government fighting criminal activities. However, where the government is careless in their execution of their duties, this is where I have the problem.
Imagine a police office pulls over a car for violating the law. I have no problem with this. However, when that same police officer drives through red lights, and crashes into multiple cars, knocking over pedestrians and wrecking mailboxes, only to find that he was chasing someone that was not even guilty?? I have a problem with this.
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Posted in Domain Name Blocked, Domain Name Seizure, ICE, Website Blocked, Website Seizure, tagged 17 U.S.C. 506, 17 USC 506, 18 U.S.C, 18 U.S.C. 2319, 18 U.S.C. 2323, 18 U.S.C. 981, 18 USC 2319, 18 USC 2320, 18 USC 2323, 18 USC 981, 4th Amendment, 981 and 2323, Account Closed, Copyright, Domain Name Has Been Seized, Domain Name Seized, Domain Name Seizure, Domain Name Taken Down, ICE, IPR, Patent, seized domain, seized website, Seizure, seizure warrant, Takedown, Trademark, U.S. Immigration and Customs, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Website Seized, Website Seizure, Website Taken Down, willful copyright infringement on July 20, 2012|
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ICE Website & Domain Name Seizure Page
No doubt many of you have seen the logo above stating that “This domain name has been seized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) pursuant to a sezure warrant issued by a United States District Court under the authority of 18 U.S.C. sections 981 and 2323.” Following this paragraph is a statement that “Willful copyright infringement is a federal crime that carries penalties for first time offenders of up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution (17 U.SC. s. 506, 18 U.S.C. s. 2319)” confusing the issue of civil copyright infringement, criminal copyright infringement, and their various statutes. And, if the website or domain name owner is not frightened enough to consult an attorney based on the government website’s mention of federal prison and a fine that would bankrupt any average citizen, the supplanted website goes on to state that “Intentionally and knowingly (all legal terms of art) trafficking in counterfeit goods is a federal crime that carries penalties for first time offenders of up to ten years in federal prison, a $2,000,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution (18 U.S.C. s. 2320).”
As you know, the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC has taken a stand against those who abuse the federal courts to extort damages from unsuspecting internet users for the downloading of copyrighted materials. No doubt, you have read the work we have done and the articles we have written in our http://torrentlawyer.wordpress.com website.
Now, we are turning our attention towards those government entities tasked with protecting corporate interests such as the MPAA, the RIAA, and those production companies, copyright holders, and their attorneys wishing to use the government agency as a weapon to stop others who allegedly threaten the intellectual property rights of the holders.
Our goal is to speak to those individuals who have had their websites or their domain names seized, and to 1) coordinate with the governmental agencies involved in shutting them down to have them 2) release the seized website or the seized domain name, and 3) to restore it back to the website owner so that he can move on with his business or worldly pursuits.
On a personal note, the cause of the problem is that when you have a large government agency fighting something as nebulous as piracy or infringement of a company’s intellectual property rights (also referred to as “IPR”), with a broad stroke of a pen and limitless government power held by well-meaning and hard-working government employees who are simply trying to do their job, too many small business owners, bloggers, and internet users owning a domain name or a website expressing their almost controversial views wake up to find that their website was shut down or that their domain name was blocked. I expect that this happens too frequently without the government agency actually checking to see whether that website was actually infringing the copyrights, the trademarks, or the patents protected under the federal statutes. Then, pushing along a complaint form filed on their website by a corporate entity, the government agency tasks their lawyers to invoke the federal piracy statutes to block the website or its domain name. This is obviously a correctable problem.
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