The website domain seizure phenomenon has become fashionable in the past two years and worryingly all that’s required to begin taking control of a domain in the United States is an uncontested ex parte proceeding.
As long as a government agent – often with the help of a rightsholder – can convince a judge of wrongdoing, it’s game on.
Up until last month all the scare stories concerned U.S. domains, but then Homeland Security’s ICE unit announced Project Transatlantic which targeted top-level domains such as .eu, .be, .dk, .fr, .ro and .uk.
Then last Friday we learned that the .EU domains of torrent sites Torrentz, Fenopy and RealTorrentz, DDL linking sites Sceper.eu and Downextra.eu, plus streaming links sites WatchSeries.eu and ChannelCut.eu, had all been put “on hold” by EURid, the European Registry of Internet Domain Names, pending legal action.
There has been no official EURid announcement and the domain registry has not responded to our request for comment. However, we have discovered that EURid is also refusing to supply the official documentation that effectively authorized the “on holds” to representatives of the sites in question.
Nevertheless, what we have learned during the past 24 hours is certainly of great interest. According to a source familiar with the situation, EURid put the domains on hold after a complaint against the sites was filed with the prosecutor at the heart of the EU in Brussels.
Only adding to the mystery, EURid are refusing to say who filed the complaints or what they contain. Although that information might prove difficult to keep quiet for long, it’s still a concern that even the owners of the affected domains are currently being kept in the dark.
After all, these things can go wrong when site operators are excluded from proceedings.
The U.S. seizure of the Dajaz1 hip-hop blog domain had to be reversed when it was found to have been wrongfully taken, as did the domain of streaming links site Rojadirecta. Furthermore, doubt over the legitimacy of the evidence used to justify the Megaupload domain seizures was also raised recently.
In the meantime, life for the sites with .EU domains continues, with many taking precautions should things turn out for the worst.
Fenopy has switched from .EU to .SE and RealTorrentz has switched back to .COM. DDL links site Sceper has dumped .EU and migrated to .WS and DownExtra is now operating from ShareNewz.com. WatchSeries.eu is now accessible from a .LI domain and ChannelCut, like Demonoid before it, appears to consider a .ME domain a safer option.