Posts tagged ‘icann’

TorrentFreak: Piracy Concerns May Soon Kill Domain Name Privacy

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

whoisguardIn recent months copyright holders have been increasingly pushing for changes in the domain name industry.

Groups such as the MPAA and RIAA, for example, want registrars to suspend domain names of clearly infringing websites.

While this is unlikely to happen on a broad scale in the near future, a new ICANN proposal may put an end to private domain name registrations for some websites.

A new proposal (pdf) will no longer allow ‘commercial’ sites, which could include all domain names that run advertisements, to hide their personal details through so-called WHOIS protections services.

This change is backed by copyright holder groups including the MPAA, who previously argued that it will help them to hold the operators of illegal sites responsible.

“Without accurate WHOIS data, there can be no accountability, and without accountability it can be difficult to investigate and remedy issues when individuals or organizations use the Internet in illegal or inappropriate ways,” MPAA’s Alex Deacon said recently.

“Ensuring this data is accurate is important not only to the MPAA and our members, but also to everyone who uses the Internet every day.”

On the other side of the spectrum, the proposal has ignited protests from privacy advocates and key players in the domain name industry.

Digital rights group EFF points out that copyright holders can already expose the operators of alleged infringers quite easily by obtaining a DMCA subpoena. This is something the RIAA has done already on a few occasions.

EFF further warns that the new rules will expose the personal details of many people who have done nothing wrong, but may have good reasons not to have their address listed publicly.

“The limited value of this change is manifestly outweighed by the risks to website owners who will suffer a higher risk of harassment, intimidation and identity theft,” EFF’s Mitch Stoltz writes.

Namecheap, one of the largest domain registrars, also jumped in and sent a mass-mailing to all their customers urging them to tell ICANN not to adopt the new proposal.

“No WHOIS privacy provider wants their service to be used to conceal illegal activity, and the vast majority of domain owners are not criminals. Using a WHOIS privacy service is no more suspicious than having an unlisted phone number,” Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall notes

“These new proposed rules would wreak havoc on our right to privacy online. ICANN is moving quickly, so we should too – contact them today and tell them to respect our privacy,” he adds.

ICANN is currently accepting comments from the public and Namecheap is encouraging its customers to use the Respect Our Privacy campaign site to protest the proposed changes.

Of course, Namecheap has more to worry about than the privacy of its users alone. The company itself operates the Whoisguard service and earns a lot of revenue through these private registrations.

Thus far most of the responses received by ICANN have come in through the special campaign site, arguing against the proposal. The commenting period closes in two weeks followed by an official report. After that, the ICANN board will still have to vote on whether or not the changes will be implemented.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and the best VPN services.

TorrentFreak: ICANN Refuses to Play Piracy Police

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

cassetteIn recent years copyright holders have demanded stricter anti-piracy measures from ISPs, search engines and payment processors, with varying results.

Continuing this trend, various entertainment industry groups are now going after organizations that manage and offer domain name services.

The most influential organization in this industry is without a doubt ICANN, the main oversight body for the Internet’s global domain name system.

Among other things, ICANN develops policies for accredited registrars to prevent abuse and illegal use of domain names. Still, various copyright groups believe that the organization isn’t doing enough.

In recent months the RIAA, MPAA and other copyright industry groups have encouraged the organization to strengthen its anti-piracy policies.

However, ICANN is not eager to take on the role of piracy police. Earlier this week ICANN president Fadi Chehadé noted that “everybody” is asking the organization to police content, which is a trend they hope to change.

Speaking out on the issue for the first time, ICANN’s Chief Contract Compliance Officer Allen Grogan emphasizes that they are not going to police the Internet to protect copyright holders.

“ICANN has no role in policing content – it’s entirely out of our scope,” Grogan informs TF.

“Our mission is to coordinate, at the overall level, the global Internet’s systems of unique identifiers, and in particular, to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifiers,” he adds.

While various copyright lobby groups suggest that ICANN has the ability and authority to take action against pirate sites, the organization itself clearly disagrees.

“ICANN was never granted, nor was it ever intended that ICANN be granted, the authority to act as a regulator of Internet content,” Grogan says.

Instead of letting the domain name industry decide what is allowed and what is not, copyright holders should fight their battles in court. According to ICANN, there are sufficient means to take on infringing sites through other venues.

“It’s important people understand this and direct their content complaints to the institutions that are already in place to handle these issues, such as law enforcement, regulatory agencies and judicial systems,” Grogan notes.

ICANN’s comments will be a disappointment to the MPAA and RIAA, who would have preferred an easy way to target the domain names of pirate sites. For now, their best option is to go through the courts, something we’re seeing more and more often these days.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Loses New Domain Name, Hydra Lives On

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

tpbhydraxEarlier this week the Stockholm District Court ordered the Pirate Bay’s .SE domains to be handed over to the Swedish state, arguing that they were linked to copyright crimes.

The Pirate Bay was fully prepared for the negative outcome and quickly redirected its visitors to six new domain names.

Since then the site has been accessible through the GS, LA, VG, AM, MN and GD domain names, without even a second of downtime.

Marking the change The Pirate Bay updated its logo to the familiar Hydra logo, linking a TLD to each of the heads. However, we can now reveal that one head has already been chopped off.

The site’s .GS domain name has been suspended by the registry, and ThePirateBay.gs is now listed as “ServerHold” and “Inactive.”

The Pirate Bay informs us that the .GS domain has indeed been lost, which didn’t come as a complete shock. In fact, one of the reasons to move to six domains was to see which ones would hold up.

“We have more domain names behind, if needed. We are stronger than ever and will defend the site to the end,” the TPB team tells us.

At this point it’s unclear for how long the other domain names will remain available. Hoping to find out more, we reached out to the respective registries to discover their policies on domains being operated by The Pirate Bay.

The Mongolian .MN registry informs TF that they will process potential complaints through ICANN’s Dispute Resolution Policy, suggesting that they will not take any voluntary action.

The VG Registry referred us to their terms and conditions, specifically sections 3.4 and 7.2, which allow for an immediate termination or suspension if a domain infringes on the rights of third parties. However, it could not comment on this specific case.

“We will review any complaint and act accordingly. Please understand that we cannot make any predictions based on theoretical options,” a VG Registry spokesperson says.

It won’t be a big surprise if several more Pirate Bay domain names are suspended during the days and weeks to come. That’s a Whac-A-Mole game the site’s operators are all too familiar with now, but one that won’t bring the site to its knees.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Domain Seizures Are Easy in the United States

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

court1-featuredOne the biggest piracy-related stories of the year broke this week after Swedish authorities succeeded in their quest to take over two key Pirate Bay domains.

The court order, handed down Tuesday, will see ThePirateBay.se and PirateBay.se fall under the control of the Swedish government, provided no appeal is filed in the coming weeks. It’s been a long and drawn out process but given the site’s history, one with an almost inevitable outcome.

Over in the United States and spurred on by ‘rogue’ sites such as TPB, much attention has been focused on depriving ‘pirate’ sites of their essential infrastructure, domains included. Just last week the MPAA and RIAA appeared before the House Judiciary Committee’s Internet subcommittee complaining that ICANN isn’t doing enough to deal with infringing domains.

Of course, having ICANN quickly suspend domains would be convenient, but entertainment industry groups aren’t completely helpless. In fact, yet another complaint filed in the United States by TV company ABS-CBN shows how easily it is to take control of allegedly infringing domains.

The architect of several recent copyright infringement complaints, in its latest action ABS-CBN requested assistance from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The TV company complained that eleven sites (listed below) have been infringing its rights by offering content without permission. To protect its business moving forward ABS-CBN requested an immediate restraining order and after an ex parte hearing, District Court Judge William P. Dimitrouleas was happy to oblige.

In an order (pdf) handed down May 15 (one day after the complaint was filed) Judge Dimitrouleas acknowledges that the sites unlawfully “advertised, promoted, offered for distribution, distributed or performed” copyrighted works while infringing on ABS-CBN trademarks. He further accepted that the sites were likely to continue their infringement and cause “irreparable injury” to the TV company in the absence of protection by the Court.

Granting a temporary order (which will become preliminary and then permanent in the absence of any defense by the sites in question) the Judge restrained the site operators from further infringing on ABS-CBN copyrights and trademarks. However, it is the domain element that provokes the most interest.

In addition to ordering the sites’ operators not to transfer any domains until the Court advises, Judge Dimitrouleas ordered the registrars of the domains to transfer their certificates to ABS-CBN’s counsel. Registrars must then lock the domains and inform their registrants what has taken place.

Furthermore, the Whois privacy protection services active on the domains and used to conceal registrant identities are ordered to hand over the site operators’ personal details to ABS-CBN so that the TV company is able to send a copy of the restraining order. If no active email address is present in Whois records, ABS-CBN is allowed to contact the defendants via their websites.

Once this stage is complete the domain registrars are ordered to transfer the domains to a new registrar of ABS-CBN’s choosing. However, if the registrars fail to act within 24 hours, the TLD registries (.COM etc) must take overriding action within five days.

The Court also ordered ABS-CBN’s registrar to redirect any visitors to the domains to a specific URL (http://servingnotice.com/BL4G47/index.html) which is supposed to contain a copy of the order. At the time of writing, however, that URL is non-functional.

Also of interest is how the Court locks down attempts to get the sites running again. In addition to expanding the restraining order to any new domains the site operators may choose to move to, the Court grants ABS-CBN access to Google Webmaster Tools so that the company may “cancel any redirection of the domains that have been entered there by Defendants which redirect traffic to the counterfeit operations to a new domain name or website.”

The domains affected are: freepinoychannel.com, lambingan.to, pinoymovie.to, pinoynetwork.to, pinoytambayan-replay.com, pinoytambayantv.com, tambaytayo.com, tvnijuan.net, phstream.com, streampinoy.info and tambayanatin.com.

Despite the order having been issued last Thursday, at the time of writing all but one of the domains remains operational. Furthermore, and in an interesting twist, pinoymovie.to and pinoynetwork.to have already skipped to fresh domains operated by none other than the Swedish administered .SE registry.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: MPAA & RIAA Demand DNS Action Against ‘Pirate’ Domains

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

stopstopOne of the key aims of the now infamous SOPA legislation that failed to pass several years ago was the takedown of domains being used for infringing purposes. The general consensus outside of the major copyright groups was that this kind of provision should be rejected.

However, within the movie and music industries the spirit of SOPA is still alive, it’s just a question of how its aims can be achieved without giving alternative mechanisms the same name. Yesterday, during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee’s Internet subcommittee, domains were firmly on the agenda.

One group in attendance was the Coalition for Online Accountability. COA’s aim is to improve online transparency and to encourage “effective enforcement against online infringement of copyrights and trademarks.”

No surprise then that its members consist of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA).

COA counsel Steve Metalitz’s testimony called for domain name registrars to deal with complaints effectively.

Domains

“In recent months, there have been increasing calls from many quarters for domain name registrars to recognize that, like other intermediaries in the e-commerce environment, they must play their part to help address the plague of online copyright theft that continues to blight the digital marketplace,” Metalitz said.

“Under the 2013 revision of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA), domain name registrars took on important new obligations to respond to complaints that domain names they sponsor are being used for copyright or trademark infringement, or other illegal activities.”

However, according to Metalitz, registrars are not responding. The COA counsel said that the RAA requires registrars to “investigate and respond appropriately” to abuse reports and make “commercially reasonable efforts” to ensure that registrants don’t use their domain names “directly or indirectly” to infringe third party rights. But there has been little action.

“Well-documented reports of abuse that are submitted to registrars by right-holders, clearly demonstrating pervasive infringement, are summarily rejected, in contravention of the 2013 RAA, which requires that they be investigated,” he said.

As an example, Metalitz highlighted a Romanian-hosted ‘pirate’ music site using the domain Itemvn.com.

“By August of last year, RIAA had notified the site of over 220,000 infringements of its members’ works (and had sent similar notices regarding 26,000 infringements to the site’s hosting providers). At that time, RIAA complained to the domain name registrar (a signatory of the 2013 RAA), which took no action, ostensibly because it does not host the site,” he explained. A complaint to ICANN was also dismissed, twice.

It’s clear from Metalitz’s testimony that the MPAA, RIAA and ESA are seeking an environment in which domains will be suspended or blocked if they can be shown to be engaged in infringement. But the groups’ demands don’t end there.

WHOIS

WHOIS databases carry the details of individuals or companies that have registered domains and registrars are required to ensure that this information is both accurate and up to date. However, since WHOIS searches often reveal information that registrants would rather keep private, so-called proxy registrations (such as Whoisguard) have become increasingly popular.

While acknowledging there is a legitimate need for such registrations (albeit in “limited circumstances”), the entertainment industry groups are not happy that pirate site operators are playing the system to ensure they cannot be traced.

As a result they are aiming for a situation where registrars only deal with proxy services that meet certain standards on issues including accuracy of customer data, relaying of complaints to proxy registrants, plus “ground rules for when the contact points of a proxy registrant will be revealed to a complainant in order to help address a copyright or trademark infringement.”

In other words, anonymity should only be available up to a point.

In a letter to the Committee, the EFF warned against the COA’s proposals.

“As advocates for free speech, privacy, and liberty on the global Internet, we ask the Committee to resist calls to impose new copyright and trademark enforcement responsibilities on ICANN. In particular, the Committee should reject proposals to have ICANN require the suspension of Internet domain names based on accusations of copyright or trademark infringement by a website,” the EFF said.

“This is effectively the same proposal that formed the centerpiece of the Stop Online Piracy Act of 2011 (SOPA), which this Committee set aside after millions of Americans voiced their opposition. Using the global Domain Name System to enforce copyright law remains as problematic in 2015 as it was in 2011.”

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay To Open Its Own .PIRATE Domain Name Registry

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

pirate bayThe Pirate Bay’s parent company Reservella Ltd. has started the registration process for a new gTLD with a .PIRATE extension.

Responding to increased pressure from the MPAA and RIAA on the domain name industry, the torrent site hopes to break away from the rules and regulations which forced it to move to several new domains in recent years.

“We can no longer trust third party services and registries, who are under immense pressure from the copyright lobby. So we decided to apply for our very own gTLD and be a true Pirate registry,” TPB’s Winston informs TF.

The new registration is currently being processed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the main oversight body for the Internet’s global domain name system which accepts new gTLD proposals.

.PIRATE application
pirapri1

If the new TLD is finalized the Pirate Bay team plans to open registrations to the public. While it has to agree to some oversight formalities and ICANN agreements, the .PIRATE domains are expected to be less prone to censorship.

“The ultimate goal is to create a true PIRATE hydra. This means that we will allow other sites to register .PIRATE domain names too. Staying true to our pirate roots the domains can be registered anonymously without charge,” Winston tells us.

The Pirate Bay crew has prepared the application in secret, setting the wheels in motion nearly a year ago. Ideally, the process would have been finished by late January but a police raid and persistent hosting problems caused some delay.

“Things are looking good so far, but we’re not there yet. Fingers crossed. Let’s hope nothing foolish happens,” Winston concludes.

For the time being, however, The Pirate Bay will continue operating from the Swedish based .SE domain name. A transition to the .PIRATE domain is expected to take place this summer, at the earliest.

The MPAA and RIAA couldn’t be reached for a comment on today’s news, but it’s expected that they will do everything within their power to block Pirate Bay’s deviant plans.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Music Industry Demands Action Against “Pirate” Domain Names

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

cassetteIn recent years copyright holders have demanded stricter anti-piracy measures from ISPs, search engines, advertising networks and payment processors, with varying results.

Continuing this trend various entertainment industry groups are now going after companies that offer domain name services.

The MPAA, for example, has joined the domain name system oversight body ICANN and is pushing for policy changes from the inside.

A few days ago the RIAA added more pressure. The music group sent a letter to ICANN on behalf of several industry players asking for tougher measures against pirate domains.

The RIAA’s senior vice president Victoria Sheckler wants the Internet to be a safe place for all, where music creation and distribution can thrive.

“… we expect all in the internet ecosystem to take responsible measures to deter copyright infringement to help meet this goal,” she notes.

The music groups believe, however, that domain registrars don’t do enough to combat piracy. ICANN’s most recent registrar agreement states that domain names should not be used for copyright infringement, but most registrars fail to take action in response.

Instead, many registrars simply note that it’s not their responsibility to act against pirate sites.

“We […] do not see how it is an appropriate response from a registrar to tell a complainant that it has investigated or responded appropriately to a copyright abuse complaint by stating it does not provide non-registrar related services to the site in question,” Sheckler writes.

In what appears to be a coordinated effort to pressure ICANN and other players in the domain name industry, the U.S. Government also chimed in last week.

According to the U.S. Trade Representative, Canada-based Tucows is reported as “an example of a registrar that fails to take action when notified of its clients’ infringing activity.”

Despite the critique, it’s far from clear that Tucows and other registrars are doing anything wrong. In fact, the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes that there is no law requiring registrars to disconnect pirate sites.

“Domain registrars do not have an obligation to respond to a random third party’s complaints about the behavior of a domain name user. Unless ordered by a court, registrars cannot be compelled to take down a website,” notes Jeremy Malcolm, EFF’s Senior Global Policy Analyst.

“What the entertainment industry groups are doing is exaggerating the obligations that registrars of global top-level domains (gTLDs) have under their agreement with ICANN to investigate reports of illegal activity by domain owners, an expansion of responsibilities that is, to put it mildly, extremely controversial, and not reflected in current laws or norms.”

Law or no law, the entertainment industry groups are not expected to back down. They hope that ICANN will help to convince registrars that pirate sites should be disconnected, whether they like it or not.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: MPAA Pushes For ICANN Policy Changes to Target “Pirate” Domains

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

mpaa-logoThe Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the main oversight body for the Internet’s global domain name system.

Among other things, ICANN develops policies for accredited registrars to prevent abuse and illegal use of domain names.

What not many people know, however, is that the MPAA is actively involved in shaping these policies.

As a member of several ICANN stakeholder groups the lobby outfit is keeping a close eye on the movie industry’s interests. Most of these efforts are directed against pirate sites.

For example, in ICANN’s most recent registrar agreements it’s clearly stated that domain names should not be used for copyright infringement.

As the MPAA’s Alex Deacon explains, these agreements “contain new obligations for ICANN’s contract partners to promptly investigate and respond to use of domain names for illegal and abusive activities, including those related to IP infringement.”

The MPAA hopes that “the community” will take these new obligations seriously and make sure that they are enforced.

“As with any new contractual obligations, it is essential that the community as a whole be on the same page on how these obligations are interpreted and ultimately enforced,” Deacon writes.

The MPAA’s involvement with ICANN’s policy making is a sensitive subject and Deacon’s comments in public are carefully worded. However, the MPAA is getting involved with ICANN for a reason.

Thanks to internal documents that were made public in the Sony leak, we know that the MPAA ideally wants to adopt “procedures for broad-based termination of pirate sites.”

While admitting that such a major change is “unlikely,” the MPAA notes that “seeking to make policy changes through ICANN meetings” remains an important strategy.

Besides influencing future policy, the MPAA also sees an option to use the existing agreements to convince registrars to take action against domain names that are used by “pirate” sites.

“The recent ICANN changes to the registrar agreement for new gTLDs apparently provide non-judicial ‘notice’ opportunities that may suggest new strategies requiring fewer resources. We need to explore these further,” the internal MPAA document reveals.

Whether registrars are likely to comply with voluntary takedown requests has yet to be seen though. Previously, City of London Police didn’t have much luck with a similar strategy.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.