US Government seizes Domain Names

In what some are calling an infringement of first amendment rights, the US government has seized two Spanish domain names, citing that they break copyright law. The two domains in question are Rojadirecta.com and Rojadirecta.org which are both owned by Spanish company Puerto 80.

Siding with the domain holder is the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who have taken the lead in the claim that this is breaking the aforementioned amendment. They have asked a federal appeals courts to return the domain to the original owners.

Apparently the copyright infringing portion of the sites was the fact that they provided links to live sports events. Though they are hardly the only ones out there and technically Google would be infringing this sort of thing too, the Government hasn’t responded on why these two sites were specifically targeted.

The EFF hasn’t commented on the claims of live sporting links, but has said that by seizing the domains the govermental suits are stopping users from accessing other features, including forums, discussions and how-to guides.

“Domain name seizures are blunt instruments that cause unacceptable collateral damage to free speech rights,” said EFF senior staff attorney Matt Zimmerman.

“Web site operators must have the confidence that government actions ostensibly targeting copyright infringement are undertaken legally. We urge the Court of Appeals to ensure that that happens.”

Puerto 80 has attempted to circumnavigate the courts, appealing to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement but this was refused.

“ICE’s domain name seizures, including this one, are occurring without meaningful court oversight, with no chance for the targets to defend themselves before their websites are taken down and a highly cumbersome process for challenge afterwards,” said EFF intellectual property director Corynne McSherry. ”

It seems interesting that the government felt the need to step in on this. The companies the own the sporting franchises, like Zuffa who own UFC, are pretty good at halting live broadcasting the even showing of fights after the fact.

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