Spanish sports streaming domain seized by US authorities without warning
This article is also available in:
Deutsch: US-Behörden entziehen spanischen Sportstreamingseiten die Domain
The US authorities have recently seized, without any warning, the domain names of several sports streaming sites over alleged copyright infringements within the "Operation In Our Sites" action launched at the beginning of July 2010, targeting websites having allegedly offered users copyrighted material without copyright owners' consent.
In July 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized a series of film streaming domain names. It is now the turn of sports streaming domain names.
Among the recently seized domains, DOJ and ICE have included Rojadirecta.org, a popular sports steaming website, despite the fact that the site is owned by a Spanish company and its only relation to the US is that the .org domain is maintained by a US company.
Furthermore, the site has already been declared legal by two Spanish court rulings in 2009 and 2010, following an action introduced by sports rights holder Audiovisual Sport in 2007. "In our opinion the US authorities are completely despising the Spanish justice system and sovereignty," stated Igor Seoane, Rojadirecta's owner for TorrentFreak.
Rojadirecta, as a streaming site, does not host any copyrighted material but indexes HTTP links to sports streams that can be found on the Internet and links to torrent files hosted on other sites.
This seizure of a site domain already declared legal in Spain, raises concerns related to generic domain names that are controlled exclusively by US companies. Without even contacting the site owners, the US authorities may obtain a seizure warrant from a District Court judge and use this to take control over the domains in question even if the sites are not based in the US, which provides US censorship powers over a great part of the Internet.
Besides Rojadirecta.org, the domains of several other sports streaming sites were seized by DOJ and ICE, only a few days before the Super Bowl, the most-watched American television broadcast. This seems like a pattern. In November, the US authorities seized domains of online retailers of alleged counterfeit goods, just a few days before "Cyber Monday", a commercial event.
The sites in question had the option to move to alternative domains, which they did in a short time. Rojadirecta is presently available on several alternative domains, such as .es, .in and .me. Channelsurfing.net, one of the other seized sites is now available under Channelsurf.eu, Atdhe.net has moved to Atdhenet.tv while Ilemi.com turned to Ilemi.tv.
Rojadirecta : judged as legal in Spain, seized by USA (update) (only in
U.S. Resume Controversial File-Sharing Domain Seizures (Update) (1.02.2011)
Sports Streaming / Torrent Links Site Victorious in Court (10.05.2010)
U.S. Seizes Sports Streaming Sites in "Super Bowl Crackdown"(update)