Lawmakers seek to seize domains in anti-piracy war

By Mike Fischer on September 22, 2010, 9:30 AM
The Obama administration released its plans last June to take a tougher stance against Internet piracy, and Monday US lawmakers released their contribution: legislation that could allow the Department of Justice to seize the domain names of websites that promote copyright infringement. Introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy and dubbed the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act," the bill once again raises the issues of intellectual property rights versus Internet usage control and censorship. Proponents include the MPAA, RIAA, and the Screen Actors Guild, which stated, "This legislation will make it easier to shut down 'rogue' websites, which are dedicated to stealing the films, television programs and music created by our members."

But what exactly constitutes a "rogue" website? A side effect of this proposal would allow lawmakers to target sites beyond the usual piracy suspects, such as Wikileaks, known for publishing government documents and sensitive, sometimes classified, information. Opponents including the Electronic Frontier Foundation see the bill as the another restriction on freedom of speech on the Internet, citing the broad classification of sites "dedicated to infringing activities," as well as the blockage of whole sites and not just the offending material.

The ability to shut down domain names has long been sought after by the Department of Justice and copyright control groups, especially after the July seizure of nine television and movie streaming sites, which marked a departure from previous legal action which targeted website operators. But it appears unclear what arbitration would be in place for those accused of Internet piracy, as well as what would replace any website after shutdown. As the EFF states, "the bill gives the government power to play an endless game of whack-a-mole," but adds that the strength of the Internet piracy community lies in its ability to adapt and work around restrictions.




User Comments: 29

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mattfrompa mattfrompa said:

Yar, man the crows nest! Load the gunnery! Polish me boot buckles! If they be takin our seas, let us sail war they won't be!

JMMD JMMD, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Wow, how about putting time, money and effort into battling cyber crimes, hacking and malware. What a waste of time and money.

Zilliak said:

I agree, piracy will always exist and what's funny is they will increase prices when these sites dissapear, because they don't need to convince piraters to stop pirating due to the fact there wont be any. Frick pricks

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

"piracy will always exist"

So they makes it OK, and no reason to try and fight it at all?

jimmyconway said:

no, no reason, piracy will live on forever

Guest said:

So they makes it OK, and no reason to try and fight it at all?

Ah... yeah?

They are as aware of their own limitations as someone who jumps off of grand canyon believing they can sprout wings if they want it enough. Simply not going to happen.

But I guess the effort is appreciated...

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Someone on another forum said this and I thought it was right on the money - "Piracy will only stop when the cost of the item is less than the hassle to pirate the item".

Right now, there is no incentive for people to simply purchase something rather than pirate it. This legislation wont do anything but allow the government to take down any website..I repeat.. ANY WEBSITE that it deems inappropriate whether it has to do with pirating or not.

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

No problem, I'm good with numbers

Just start using IP Addresses for accessing sites

If you update your bookmarks with the IP of the sites you wont even need to remember the IP

Zilliak said:

EXACTLY if a DVD costs 5$ vs 20$ i think pirating will decrease.

windmill007 said:

Yup lower prices will do it. Otherwise forget it. I think this taking over domain names is BS because whats to stop them from taking down any website they want. It will be the beginning of then end oftinternet freedom

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

You guys are kidding yourselves if you think lower prices will reduce piracy. There is example after example of that being proven untrue. The most pirated game in 2008 was "Plants vs. Zombies." Yet you could buy the game on various sales for as low as $6.99. The next year it was "World of Goo." Exact same deal - you could buy it for next to nothing, but was pirated by the millions. When Radiohead released their album "In Radios" online with the caveat being "pay what you feel is worth it," over 1/3 of the downloads paid nothing and most paid less than $5.00 for it. I could go on and on with examples.

Pirating happens because it is easy, and there is anonymity. With P2P sites, you can download any damn thing you want and no one is the wiser. Yet I'll bet not one of you who engage in this theft would be caught dead walking into a grocery store and stealing a gallon of milk. Reason being? Because you can get caught.

There is no excuse for pirating and I don't begrudge the copy-right owners one iota of trying to protect their product from the whole-sale pirating that's going on.

Guest said:

The battle against piracy is a losing battle.

It isn't like the movie producers, album producers and software giants are losing truck loads of money because of piracy. They already have more than enough money and they want to get money which has never been theirs but they think they will be able to make more money if they put an end to piracy.

I honestly believe they are wrong. People who watch pirated movies/songs are not willing to pay for copyrighted materials. They will either not purchase them or listen to other free music/movies.

It is a lose-lose situation. That is all.

But, what this legislation will make is to stop the internet freedom. Think about this, for example, if government has decided someone published a confidential article on Wiki, they will have right to shutdown the whole wikipedia!

mattfrompa mattfrompa said:

I can only speak for myself, but I wouldn't have half of what I do without clearances. Media is not a necessity. If prices go up, I buy less. They go down, I buy more. It's as simple as that. If they want even less of my business, stay the course. I can enjoy my DRM free football for a long time.

trparky said:

Music is $.99 to $1.20 a song, that's cheap and I believe that it's a fair price to be paid for a song. Remember, the artist needs to be paid. They put a lot of work into making that song that you like and they deserve to be paid for it.

Movies, yes... I'll agree, priced way too high. The issue starts with the fact that the actors and actresses are paid way too much and for what?

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

TomSEA said:

You guys are kidding yourselves if you think lower prices will reduce piracy. There is example after example of that being proven untrue. The most pirated game in 2008 was "Plants vs. Zombies." Yet you could buy the game on various sales for as low as $6.99. The next year it was "World of Goo." Exact same deal - you could buy it for next to nothing, but was pirated by the millions. When Radiohead released their album "In Radios" online with the caveat being "pay what you feel is worth it," over 1/3 of the downloads paid nothing and most paid less than $5.00 for it. I could go on and on with examples.

Pirating happens because it is easy, and there is anonymity. With P2P sites, you can download any damn thing you want and no one is the wiser. Yet I'll bet not one of you who engage in this theft would be caught dead walking into a grocery store and stealing a gallon of milk. Reason being? Because you can get caught.

There is no excuse for pirating and I don't begrudge the copy-right owners one iota of trying to protect their product from the whole-sale pirating that's going on.

Thousands of people everyday go into stores and steal everyday Tom, so whats your point? Ask your local Walmart how much they lose in sales because of shoplifters. Granted you are correct it is a little easier sitting behind a computer but items get stolen nonetheless.

Also people get caught illegally downloading. You act like they don't. Ask all those people that got nailed for downloading The Hurt Locker.

How was Radiohead "pirated" from if they told people to "pay what they thought was worth"? Just because you may think it was worth $20 doesn't mean 3 million other people thought so.

As Far as World of Goo and Plants vs Zombies, If those titles made back enough money to make a fair profit, then they didn't lose anything. You would be arguing about how much profit they lost and that just plain and simple greed and I have no sympathy for them in such case. I could care less if the CEO of Popcap Games can't buy a new BMW this year or not. I do care that he can feed and clothe his family and can afford his health insurance.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

trparky said:

Music is $.99 to $1.20 a song, that's cheap and I believe that it's a fair price to be paid for a song. Remember, the artist needs to be paid. They put a lot of work into making that song that you like and they deserve to be paid for it.

Movies, yes... I'll agree, priced way too high. The issue starts with the fact that the actors and actresses are paid way too much and for what?

The meat of the movie pricing issue is really about complexity and scope. Try reading the credits and counting the number of people involved in a new movie. The payrolls on those endeavors are massive, and are up front costs. If the movie companies aren't making money, they don't have the capital to fund their next movies. It's a bit of a catch-22, really. And yes, the actors make big bucks, but that is usually for the box office pull they can play on to insure decent sales - if they aren't big public popular names, they aren't making the big money. A bit like pro sports players bringing in massive paychecks - they get huge contracts that rely on potential based on previous performance (but in the actor case, it's box office draw performance).

Leeky Leeky said:

Surely all this does is give the US justice department the right to exercise there new powers on US based servers?

The US Justice Department has absolutely no authority in my country (UK) so they couldn't do anything to any UK (or non-US) domains/servers anyway!

Or am I missing the point, other than the fact its a complete waste of money.

Guest said:

I pirate everything before I buy it, I don't want to get stuck with a bad game for $50 or a crappy CD for $10. I pirated windows, then I bought 2 W7 ultimate disks. I pirated the first season of Stargate SG-1, then I got the box set of the entire series. If I can't pirate a product to try it or get it for a reasonable price, you aren't getting my money! Give me something worth a few hours at my minimum wage job, or give me a raise so I can waste more money. There are countless things I have pirated then purchased, but just as many things I decided I didn't want and deleted *cough*(district 9)*cough*. One example of them backing you into a corner like this is "preorder BFBC2 and play the beta." I have to buy it before I can try it, but if i don't like it, I'm boned. Now you have to but Medal of honer to play BF3 beta, really, up yours. I don't think I will be buying either of those games just as I didn't buy MW2 for the price jack on PC. If they want my $50, they can get 5 other people to buy MW2 for $60. And on a final, but more important note, are we really wasting tax payer money on this? The US is so far in debt and we are worried about the recording industry's money? We need budget cuts and adding a stupid bill like this is just going to add on to our debt. Those record companies sure as hell support the tax cuts, but they are all about taking every ounce of money out of anyone who can't afford a lawyer.

tengeta tengeta said:

Don't worry guys, as soon as they win the guild will just go on strike yet again. Pathetic losers...

Guest said:

The simple issue is all the figuers they put up for piracy assumes that those items pirated are lost sales. Spending millions trying to recover millions of "theoretical" profit is a false economy.

Guest said:

First the justice department will seize the domain names of pirates. Soon to follow will be the domain names of any one who dares speak against the government establishment. Many of you are missing the point that its not about piracy and $20 dvd's. Its about freedom of information, technology and speech. Pass the law under the guise of anti piracy and now you have a case and the power to shut down dissenting speech and information. For example in Venezuela the right wing or anti Chavez radio, tv stations have been systematically silenced to the point where only a few radio stations legally broadcast over the airwaves. How were they shut down? Not with guns or bullets but with the legislative, judicial and executive powers of the government. Under the law their broadcast licenses have been denied. Their voices and opinions have been silenced.

AlienOverlord said:

They should try to make more money back through advertising within the TV show, movie, music, video game. They could put more effort into tracking how many people are downloading so that they could charge properly for the advertisement.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Darkshadoe said: "Piracy will only stop when the cost of the item is less than the hassle to pirate the item"

I'll agree with that..They used to say "You don't get owt for nowt these days"..Not anymore with pirates. I've had a free song in my time and i don't feel guilty..Same reason i don't feel guilty when i enjoy watching the Robin Hood movies.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

TomSEA, I agree that piracy is a problem for many industries, but creating a whole new beurocracy, ie: "The war on drugs/terror/ and now piracy", isn't the answer. The war on drugs and war on terror are failing miserably, and are nothing more than big, bottomless holes to throw taxpayer money away in.

In the 1920's the government outlawed alcohol. Just look at how that turned out for them. Prohibition, of any kind, has never worked and will never work. Unless the thought process of big brother changes, and starts coming up with new, fresh ideas to combat the problems that we as a society face, then these problems will never go away. Big brother has proven time and time again that it is incapable of learning from the mistakes of the past, and thus a paradox is created.

In November, every one of the bastards in Congress needs to be voted out, regardless of political affiliation. It's time for some fresh minds in Washington, time we set term limits, do away with underserved lifetime governement pensions for only serving 1 term, and time to get rid of ALL of the corrupt politicians that are currently present. Defeat the paradox in November, and fire the politicians.

Guest said:

Oh boohoo, Mr.CEO mad cause he lost a few million $$$s so he cant purchase his new Rolls Royce, or get that new 78Ft flat screen drop down projector, or his kids new iPhone 4s with their brand new Aston Martins. Please. Really. Modern Warfare 2 was the most pirated game in 2009, but still made over 500$ million dollars in 5 days, set and broke records like crazy. Their bank account was cha-chinging like crazy.

Piracy has been around since the dawn of the computer / internet, and went further with high-speed internet etc. Come on, we see more and more companies popping up left and right with new software, new ideas etc. Microsoft knows all about Piracy, XP, Vista, 7 all hugely pirated operating systems and yet Mr.Gates is still worth of 60$ billion dollars. Take from the rich & give to the poor.

Great you take control of domainblah.com and change its nameserver records etc. what now? they go and purchase a new domain and within an hour or 2 the whole warez community is moved on to a new server under a new domain.

I wont lie, I pirate alot of stuff. If I feel the software is WORTH the money, and benefits me enough I will happily drop money on it.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

Piracy has been around since the dawn of the computer / internet, and went further with high-speed internet etc....

I wont lie, I pirate alot of stuff. If I feel the software is WORTH the money, and benefits me enough I will happily drop money on it.

Fixed: Piracy has been around since the dawn of MAN, and went further with high-speed internet etc

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Sorry for the double post here... my keyboard is seriously jacked up right now.

Guest, if you download pirated software to begin with, you obviously feel it benefits you in some way, and has enough value to you for you to have stolen it to begin with. Your point is moot. You're merely trying to rationalize your theft and anyone with half a brain can see that it isn't working. That's why software makers create trial versions of software, so you can see if it is of any value to you before you buy it. Get real dude, you aren't kidding anyone.

Guest said:

Well duh genius, anything someone does is generally because it benefits them in some way. It benefits me in that I don't have a 14 - 30 day limitation, I can test for months if need be before I decide if it suites me, no nag screens reminding me I am running a trial etc. Kidding? I wasn't trying to kid anyone Jesus, go work for Congress and put that whining to good use, the US Gov. loves whiners.

Some are against Piracy, others are for it, some couldn't give 2 pennies about it. Piracy to me has actually got me into other software I never even knew existed, because of this I have found (and purchased) many pieces of software that helped me. Hell 6 months ago I used a hard disk recovery tool that only recovered 100MB of data in trial mode (wtf good is that?) so I obtained the serial key and it worked flawless I was so impressed I purchased it and haven't touched it since. I purchased VIsta when it first came out (should have pirated it first, would have saved me $200 and the disappointment).

98% of the software on my machine is legal. The other 2% is either free, or not tested enough for me to purchase it.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It's funny you call me a whiner, when it is blatantly obvious you don't have the stones to stop hiding behind a guest account. I'm sure you will rationalize that as well.

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