The UK’s recently established Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit has been successful in shutting down several domain names of major torrent sites this week, including SumoTorrent, MisterTorrent and ExtraTorrent, according to a report by TorrentFreak on Wednesday.
Instead of targeting the domain owner, PIPCU is sending out letters to domain registrars, and not all registrars are complying with the orders.
Canadian domain registrar easyDNS said the request lacked due process because there was no court order.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always thought it was something that gets decided in a court of law, as opposed to ‘some guy on the Internet’ sending emails. While that’s plenty reason enough for some registrars to take down domain names, it doesn’t fly here,” Mark Jeftovic, easyDNS CEO said in a blog post addressing the email he received from PIPCU. “We have an obligation to our customers and we are bound by our Registrar Accreditation Agreements not to make arbitrary changes to our customers’ settings without a valid FOA. To supersede that we need a legal basis. To get a legal basis something has to happen in court.”
In the letter, PIPCU asked registrars to freeze the whois record of the domains, redirect the DNS for the domain to 188.8.131.52, and said it has the right to refer the matter to ICANN if the registrar doesn’t comply. The letter also said that if the registrar doesn’t comply with the orders, its accreditation with ICANN is at stake.
Piracy has long been the target of domain takedowns, but the new police unit dedicated to cracking down on these types of websites will likely make it more of an issue in the future. Sine there is no court order though, it remains to be seen what the consequences could be for domain registrars who don’t comply.
In 2012, SumoTorrent’s web host XS Networks was ordered by a Dutch court to pay damages to anti-piracy group BREIN after being charged with facilitating copyright infringement by knowingly hosting the torrent site and refusing to pull it offline without a court order.