Yesterday one of the largest BitTorrent sites on the Internet slowly started to disappear from the Internet.
Without knowledge of the site owners, the nameservers had been wiped from the domain records. While some people were still able to access the site through cached DNS entries, more and more visitors reported issues as time passed.
TorrentFreak got in touch with the site’s owner, who initially thought that there was a DNS problem with the content distribution network. However, when he contacted Leaseweb, who manage the domain name registration, it turned out that the problem was more serious than that.
Leaseweb support informed H33t that the registrar had removed the nameservers after receiving a court order, which appears to be related to a copyright dispute.
“We asked our registrar why we cannot add the nameservers of LeaseWeb to your account. They informed us that they regretfully forced to temporarily disable the domain name due to receipt of a court order as the registrant had not reacted upon a request to remove certain files/entries from his service,” Leaseweb explained.
“They are currently analyzing the Court Order with the intent to have it lifted, but that may take a while. For more information, please contact the registrar who tried to contact you regarding this matter. LeaseWeb can not help you any further with this,” the company added.
The owner of H33t is surprised by the mysterious court order and told TorrentFreak that the site has received no correspondence regarding the matter.
“At this point we do not know who is making the complaint, neither do we know who the Leaseweb registrar is because they have not contacted us,” H33t’s Shelby explains.
H33t’s owner was contacted two weeks ago with a request to prove that the WHOIS data is real. H33t complied with this request by providing company documentation and certificates, but hasn’t heard back since.
The torrent site is also surprised that by the accusation that they failed to take allegedly infringing content down.
“H33t has a DMCA style takedown procedure linked on every page. we thought it was enough, apparently not. Today I learned that any site can be taken offline by a complaint without the need to contact the site,” Shelby says.
While H33t does indeed have a takedown policy, it has to be noted that they charge copyright holders an administration fee of $50 per takedown request. The site doesn’t comply with the DMCA, claiming that it falls outside US jurisdiction.
Whether the court order will do much to stop H33t from operating is doubtful. The site’s servers are still up and running and the admin is working hard on getting the site back up under a domain, H33t.eu.
“H33t.eu is firing up now and will be fully live within 24 hours as soon as the DNS changes propagate to your locale. The regular h33t tracker is also firing up on the new eu domain announce,” Shelby tells us.
While H33t is expected to make a swift return, the mysterious domain seizure does raise several questions. Is this a criminal matter or a civil case? Under what jurisdiction was the court order obtained?
In the past the U.S. Government has seized hundreds of domains related to copyright infringement and counterfeiting, but if this comes directly from a copyright holder then that’s certainly a game changer.
The positive news is that the unnamed domain registrar intend to fight the court order according to Leaseweb. To be continued.
Update: H33t is back under H33t.eu