Developed with the help of the Department of Justice, “Operation In Our Sites” is a project meant to stop piracy by seizing domain names that host or provide infringing materials.
Two of their targets were Rojadirecta.com and Rojadirecta.org, domain names that are owned by the Spanish company Puerto 80. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized these domains for offering links to live sport video streams. However, the websites also included non-infringing materials such as user-created forums, discussions and several technical tutorials.
The 23 of September started with EFF (The Electronic Frontier Foundation) pleading against these measures in an amicus brief with a federal court, invoking the violation of The First Amendment.
“Domain name seizures are blunt instruments that cause unacceptable collateral damage to free speech rights,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman.
“Web site operators must have the confidence that government actions ostensibly targeting copyright infringement are undertaken legally. We urge the Court of Appeals to ensure that that happens.”
After trying and failing to reach an agreement with ICE and other US government authorities, Puerto 80 petitioned the district court to return the domain names. The judge rejected Puerto 80’s request and so they’ve decided to make another appeal to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals.
“ICE’s domain name seizures, including this one, are occurring without meaningful court oversight, with no chance for the targets to defend themselves before their websites are taken down and a highly cumbersome process for challenge afterwards,” said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry.
“The government should stop these seizures until they comply with the law.”
EFF’s brief was seconded by The Center for Democracy and Technology and Public Knowledge.