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U.S. Government Seizes BitTorrent Search Engine Domain and More

November 29, 2010

U.S. Government Seizes BitTorrent Search Engine Domain and More

Written by enigmax on November 26, 2010

Following on the heels of this week’s domain seizure of a large hiphop file-sharing links forum, it’s clear today that the U.S. Government has been very busy. Without any need for COICA, ICE has just seized the domain of a BitTorrent meta-search engine along with those belonging to other music linking sites and several others which appear to be connected to physical counterfeit goods.

While complex, it’s still possible for U.S. authorities and copyright groups to point at a fully-fledged BitTorrent site with a tracker and say “that’s an infringing site.” When one looks at a site which hosts torrents but operates no tracker, the finger pointing becomes quite a bit more difficult.

When a site has no tracker, carries no torrents, lists no copyright works unless someone searches for them and responds just like Google, accusing it of infringement becomes somewhat of a minefield – unless you’re ICE Homeland Security Investigations that is.

This morning, visitors to the Torrent-Finder.com site are greeted with an ominous graphic which indicates that ICE have seized the site’s domain.

The message below is posted on the seized sites

“My domain has been seized without any previous complaint or notice from any court!” the exasperated owner of Torrent-Finder told TorrentFreak this morning.

“I firstly had DNS downtime. While I was contacting GoDaddy I noticed the DNS had changed. Godaddy had no idea what was going on and until now they do not understand the situation and they say it was totally from ICANN,” he explained.

Aside from the fact that domains are being seized seemingly at will, there is a very serious problem with the action against Torrent-Finder. Not only does the site not host or even link to any torrents whatsoever, it actually only returns searches through embedded iframes which display other sites that are not under the control of the Torrent-Finder owner.

Torrent-Finder remains operational through another URL, Torrent-Finder.info, so feel free to check it out for yourself. The layouts of the sites it searches are clearly visible in the results shown.

Yesterday we reported that the domain of hiphop site RapGodFathers had been seized and today we can reveal that they are not on their own. Two other music sites in the same field – OnSmash.com and DaJaz1.com – have fallen to the same fate. But ICE activities don’t end there.

Several other domains also appear to have been seized including 2009jerseys.com, nfljerseysupply.com, throwbackguy.com, cartoon77.com, lifetimereplicas.com, handbag9.com, handbagcom.com and dvdprostore.com.

All seized sites point to the same message.

Domain seizures coming under the much debated ‘censorship bill’ COICA? Who needs it?

Update: Below is an longer list of domains that were apparently seized. Most of the sites relate to counterfeit goods. We assume that the authorities had a proper warrant for these sites (as they had for RapGodFathers yesterday), but were unable to confirm this.

Update: A spokeswoman for ICE confirmed the seizures in the following statement. “ICE office of Homeland Security Investigations executed court-ordered seizure warrants against a number of domain names. As this is an ongoing investigation, there are no additional details available at this time.”

2009jerseys.com
51607.com
amoyhy.com
b2corder.com
bishoe.com
borntrade.com
borntrade.net
boxedtvseries.com
boxset4less.com
boxsetseries.com
burberryoutletshop.com
cartoon77.com
cheapscarfshop.com
coachoutletfactory.com
dajaz1.com
discountscarvesonsale.com
dvdcollectionsale.com
dvdcollects.com
dvdorderonline.com
dvdprostore.com
dvdscollection.com
dvdsetcollection.com
dvdsetsonline.com
dvdsuperdeal.com
eluxury-outlet.com
getdvdset.com
gofactoryoutlet.com
golfstaring.com
golfwholesale18.com
handbag9.com
handbagcom.com
handbagspop.com
icqshoes.com
ipodnanouk.com
jersey-china.com
jerseyclubhouse.com
jordansbox.com
lifetimereplicas.com
louis-vuitton-outlet-store.com
lv-outlets.com
lv-outlets.net
lv-outletstore.com
massnike.com
merrytimberland.com
mycollects.com
mydreamwatches.com
mygolfwholesale.com
newstylerolex.com
nfljerseysupply.com
nibdvd.com
odvdo.com
oebags.com
onsmash.com
overbestmall.com
rapgodfathers.com
realtimberland.com
rmx4u.com
scarfonlineshop.com
scarfviponsale.com
shawls-store.com
silkscarf-shop.com
silkscarfonsale.com
skyergolf.com
sohob2b.com
sohob2c.com
storeofeast.com
stuff-trade.com
sunglasses-mall.com
sunogolf.com
tbl-sports.com
throwbackguy.com
tiesonsale.com
timberlandlike.com
topabuy.com
torrent-finder.com
usaburberryscarf.com
usaoutlets.net

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The 19 Senators Who Voted To Censor The Internet

from the free-speech-isn’t-free dept

This is hardly a surprise but, this morning (as previously announced), the lame duck Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to move forward with censoring the internet via the COICA bill — despite a bunch of law professors explaining to them how this law is a clear violation of the First Amendment. What’s really amazing is that many of the same Senators have been speaking out against internet censorship in other countries, yet they happily vote to approve it here because it’s seen as a way to make many of their largest campaign contributors happy. There’s very little chance that the bill will actually get passed by the end of the term but, in the meantime, we figured it might be useful to highlight the 19 Senators who voted to censor the internet this morning:

  • Patrick J. Leahy — Vermont
  • Herb Kohl — Wisconsin
  • Jeff Sessions — Alabama
  • Dianne Feinstein — California
  • Orrin G. Hatch — Utah
  • Russ Feingold — Wisconsin
  • Chuck Grassley — Iowa
  • Arlen Specter — Pennsylvania
  • Jon Kyl — Arizona
  • Chuck Schumer — New York
  • Lindsey Graham — South Carolina
  • Dick Durbin — Illinois
  • John Cornyn — Texas
  • Benjamin L. Cardin — Maryland
  • Tom Coburn — Oklahoma
  • Sheldon Whitehouse — Rhode Island
  • Amy Klobuchar — Minnesota
  • Al Franken — Minnesota
  • Chris Coons — Delaware

This should be a list of shame. You would think that our own elected officials would understand the First Amendment but, apparently, they have no problem turning the US into one of the small list of authoritarian countries that censors internet content it does not like (in this case, content some of its largest campaign contributors do not like). We already have laws in place to deal with infringing content, so don’t buy the excuse that this law is about stopping infringement. This law takes down entire websites based on the government’s say-so. First Amendment protections make clear that if you are going to stop any specific speech, it has to be extremely specific speech. This law has no such restrictions. It’s really quite unfortunate that these 19 US Senators are the first American politicians to publicly vote in favor of censoring speech in America.

Update: Some people in the comments are claiming this is not about censorship, so I’ve put up a new post explaining in detail why this bill is all about censorship.

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