British police are conducting an aggressive anti file-sharing campaign and have asked several registrars to remove the domains for torrent sites.
The London police department recently launched its Intellectual Property Crime Unit, and it has already begun an aggressive campaign against file sharing. One of it’s first orders of business has been to order registrars to suspend the domain names of major torrent sites. So far, SumoTorrent and MisterTorrent have lost their domains and ExtraTorrent has lost the .com top level domain.
Earlier this year, the anti file-sharing campaign began with several torrent sites receiving warning letters that they were breaching copyright laws and the UK’s SeriousCrime Act. Some smaller sites complied to the warnings and were shut down, but until now, the larger ones have remained active.
While the registrars have no court order that forces them to shut down the torrent domains, the police are pointing to an obligation on their behalf to do so, and make note that the sites in question may be breaching the terms of service that the registrars themselves have outlines.
Not all registrars are complying with the IPCU’s request. The Canadian registrar EasyDNS have refused to remove any domains, citing that the British Police are abusing power and showing no hints of due process in their tactics: “Who decides what is illegal? What makes somebody a criminal? Given that the subtext of the request contains a threat to refer the matter to ICANN if we don’t play along, this is a non-trivial question,” explains easyDNS’ CEO Mark Jeftovic, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always thought it was something that gets decided in a court of law, as opposed to ‘some guy on the internet’ sending emails. While that’s plenty reason enough for some registrars to take down domain names, it doesn’t fly here,”
So far, the torrent site that has seen the largest impact is ExtraTorrent, which has millions of visitors every day. Their operations have been moved to ExtraTorrent.cc until further notice.