European domain names under siege
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Deutsch: Europäische Domainnamen unter Druck
On 26 November 2012, 132 or 133 domain names were seized by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (ICE) in collaboration with the Europol and national law enforcement authorities. The seized domains were supposed to have illegally sold counterfeit products on the Internet online.
The common press release of the ICE and Europol not only does not agree on the correct number of the domain names seized (132 on the ICE website or 133 on the Europol website), but also does not seem to know the difference between trademark and copyright ("the copyright holders confirmed that the purchased products were counterfeit" or "banner that (...) educates them about the federal crime of willful copyright infringement.")
The US law enforcement authorities have seized domains before but this is the first time that European ccTLDs such as .be, .eu, .dk, .fr, .ro, or .uk. have been involved. The authorities have not released the list of the 31 European domain names involved in the action, but Torrentfreak already identified some of those sites, such as: chaussuresfoot.be, chaussurevogue.eu or eshopreplica.eu.
The official press release talks about "a great example of the tremendous cooperation" that "enables us to go after criminals who are duping unsuspecting shoppers all over the world." But there is no information if the domain name holders were actually identified and accused of an IPR infringement in a penal case. Or, if a court order was required to shut down the website. Or, if the website was actually targeting the US Market, so that the US authorities be involved.
Just a few days later, on 30 November 2012, several BitTorrent sites including Torrentz.eu, Fenopy.eu and BTscene.eu found their .EU domains put on hold by EURid, the European Registry of Internet Domain Names. “This domain name has been registered and is on hold. It is active but may not be traded or transferred pending the outcome of legal activity,” say EURid’s notes. EURid has made no further public comments, but informed the domain names holders that the action was made "upon request of the Belgian Public Prosecutor following notification of pending legal proceedings in respect of the website" without wanting to give any details regarding the legal proceedings involved.
DDL linking sites Sceper.eu and Downextra.eu, torrent site RealTorrentz.eu, and streaming links sites WatchSeries.eu and ChannelCut.eu are also in a similar situation. All these sites appear in the first few pages of Google’s Transparency Report which means that they are associated with a rather high number of takedown requests. It seems that now, only three sites on Google’s report have not, at least not yet, been put on hold.
In another news on torrent domain names, Torrentreactor.net and Torrents.net domain names and IP-addresses are to be blocked by all ISPs in Italy following a local court injunction.
Websites selling counterfeit merchandise taken down by authorities in
Europe and the USA (26.11.2012)
BitTorrent Site Owners Fear European Domain Name Seizures (27.11.2012)
Top BitTorrent Sites Have Domains Put On Hold Pending Legal Action
Italian Court Orders Nationwide Block of TorrentReactor and Torrents.net