U.S. Resume Controversial File-Sharing Domain Seizures (Updated)

US authorities have seized the domain of the hugely popular sports streaming and P2P download site Rojadirecta. The site, which is one of the most visited sites on the Internet, lost its .org domain which now redirects to a notice from DOJ/ICE. Rojadirecta is an unusual target because two courts in Spain have ruled that the site operates legally, and other than the .org domain the site has no links to the US.

rojaRojadirecta is known as one of the world’s major Internet sports broadcast indexes. The site links to broadcasts of many popular soccer matches plus other sporting events including NBA, MLB, NFL, NPB, IPL.

The site has well over a million visitors a day, and is listed among the 100 most popular sites in Spain in terms of traffic. This morning, however, visitors were surprised by a warning from US authorities. Continuing the previous “Operation in Our Sites” actions, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had seized Rojadirecta’s .org domain.

Rojadirecta is an unusual target for several reasons, not least because the site has been declared legal twice by Spanish courts. The site’s owners have previously fought a three year legal battle in Spain, which they won, but a single seizure warrant from US authorities has made this victory pointless.

Without receiving a notification or the option to defend themselves, the site’s domain was seized this morning.

“We have not been notified,” Rojadirecta’s Igor Seoane told TorrentFreak. As with the previous seizures the domain registrar was bypassed in the seizure. “According to Go Daddy they have not touched anything,” Seoane said.

Similar to BitTorrent sites, Rojadirecta doesn’t host any copyrighted material. Instead, it indexes HTTP links to sports streams that can already be found on the Internet, and also carries links to .torrent files which are hosted on other sites.

The site is owned by a Spanish company that pays its taxes and has been declared to operate legally in Spain. In addition, the site is not hosted in the US either. The only connection to the US is that the .org domain is maintained by a US company.

This indirect connection to the US makes the seizure a dubious action, according to Rojadirecta’s owner. “In our opinion the US authorities are completely despising the Spanish justice system and sovereignty,” Seoane told TorrentFreak.

At the moment Rojadirecta displays the same message from DOJ and ICE as the sites seized last year, including Torrent-Finder. It is expected that Rojadirecta is one of the first of a new list of seized domains.

The message below is posted on Rojadirecta.org

Seized Servers

The sports streaming and P2P link site is currently looking for legal advice, both in Spain and the US, and its owners are determined to fight the seizure with all means they have.

Despite losing the .org domain, Rojadirecta can still be accessed via rojadirecta.com, rojadirecta.es, rojadirecta.me, rojadirecta.in. The latter two domains are interestingly enough maintained by the same company as the .org domain, but Rojadirecta ensures us that they have many other domains that are not controlled by US authorities or companies.

The seizure of Rojadirecta shows that commercial interests are high on the agenda of the US Government. Seizing a domain that has been specifically declared to operate legally in other countries does not appear to be an obstacle. In this light, one has to wonder if generic domain names should be controlled exclusively by US companies.

Update: The owner of Channelsurfing.net informed us that his site was seized as well. Channelsurfing embedded videos from other sites and never hosted any copyrighted material on its servers.

Update: We published a follow up article here.

Update: Atdhe.net has been seized as well, another sports related site.

Update: firstrow.net has been seized, yet another sports related site.

Update: ilemi.com has been seized, yet another sports related site.

Update: kingdom-kvcd.net was initially reported to be seized as well (image), but the site’s owner told us that this is due to a “huffy ex-staff member” who decided to point the DNS to the server where the other seized domains are hosted.

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