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Domain Name Registrars can be held liable for Copyright Infringement...

by on06 November 2014 4714 times

In one of the dumbest moves I have seen a court make in some time it is now possible for a copyright holder to go after the company that registered a domain name if that name is used for piracy. The logic behind this decision escapes me and will most people that put any thought to it. However the copyright industry is boasting about how this gives them new tools to combat piracy.

In a statement made to TorrentFreak Universal Music said:  “The Court’s decision gives rights owners another option in the ongoing fight against the illegal exploitation of their content. We will have this in mind when looking at other domains that use our clients’ content without licensing,”

The broader story is that Universal Music in Germany went after a popular torrent site for alleged infringement. They claim to have sent multiple takedown requests and when they were not able to get the site to comply they went after the registrar demanding that they do something and then dragging them into court. This is the equivalent of going after the guy that named the car that hit you in an accident to most people, but the courts bowed to the pressure of the copyright industry and allowed it.

The demanded that the registrar take action to stop the piracy. The grounds is that the site owner violated the terms and conditions of buying the domain and that the registrar should have assumed the takedown requests were legitimate. As the only action the registrar could take was to remove the DNS entries for the site, it is now only reachable by IP. Does anyone else see the flaws here? The copyright industry has a history of sending fraudulent and unconfirmed takedown requests and they send so many that it has become silly. Just recently Microsoft hired a company to enforce copyright for them and they sent out a number of bad takedown request to YouTube which saw non-infringing content removed.

With this new judgment Microsoft’s attack dog could have just gone to the registrars of the sites they felt were infringing and demanded they remove their entries. This has the potential to remove legitimate sites from the internet with little to no oversight. The copyright industry already wields far too much power over the fate of the internet and they abuse it on a daily basis. To grant them more is a mistake anyway, but to give them this power is a goof of epic proportions.

Fortunately the registrar in question is not taking this lying down. They have confirmed that they are going to continue to fight this and we hope that they prevail in the end. The industry does not need another avenue to abuse their copyright. They already do that quite nicely with the power they have including sending takedown notices without establishing that it is indeed infringing as well as blanket request for personal information with proper court approval and many others too numerous to list.

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Last modified on 06 November 2014
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