Last week while everyone was waiting for the COICA bill to move through Congress, the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency one upped the Attorney General and seized domain names from a group of over 70 copyright infringing websites. A visit to the blacklisted domains now results in the ominous looking message from Homeland Security below.
While the graphic is pretty scary, Market Ticker’s Karl Denninger points out the websites themselves and the servers they run on have not actually been seized, just the domains.
“That’s a lot of staff attorney time and trouble to get a big fat nothing out of it, which is exactly what they get going down this road. Why? Because all they can do is redirect the domain pointers which will do exactly nothing when the sites re-register under a top-level domain not under the US Government’s jurisdiction – and there are lots of them.”
Domains under US jurisdiction currently include anything controlled by Verisign which puts .com site owners in a legal relationship with the United States. According to Denninger, all afflicted site owners need to do is move to a non-US controlled top level domain in order to dodge further ICE seizures.
Some have already started to migrate to other domains, though it’s likely choices like .net won’t be any safer. Torrent-Finder owner Waleed Gad El Kareem said he switched his site over to Torrent-Finder.info the moment he saw the ICE message on Torrent-Finder.com, posting the new site’s address on Twitter.
Hip hop site RapGodfathers has aggressively followed suit with its own .info address, using Twitter to get the word out about the move and asking people to retweet as well as @replying fans with its new domain.
Onsmash seems to have not made the move over, but is soliciting emails from fans on Twitter who oppose the domain name seizure as well as tweeting out stuff like “THEY CAN NEVER STOP US!!!” I’ve emailed them and sister site dajaz1.com about possible plans to move to a different domain and am waiting to hear back.
Even the counterfeit sites have caught on, an email I sent to www.2009Jerseys.com was met with the following auto response, “Notice: The original Domain Name has been suspended, please visit the new domain name www.2009Jerseys.net, We apologize for the inconvenience. If there is new information, we will first time inform you.” The people behind Dvdcollects.com have decided to focus all their energy on the yet unfettered Bestcollects.com according to their Facebook page.
If it really is that easy to pick up and move on its hard to believe that the other 70 or so sites won’t find friendlier domains on which to land, rendering ICE’s efforts ultimately futile. If anything, the seizures serve as lesson to all possibly infringing sites — Steer clear of the .com top level domain.