Court Orders Namecheap to Identify Pirate Site Operator

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Domain name registrar Namecheap has been ordered to hand over the personal and financial details of one of its customers who's suspected of operating the new Grooveshark website. The order comes after a request from the RIAA and is also directed at Cloudflare, Dynadot and Nodisto.

namecheapLast month the long running lawsuit between the RIAA and Grooveshark came to an end. However, within days a new site was launched aiming to take its place.

The RIAA wasn’t happy with this development and quickly obtained a restraining order, preventing domain registrars and hosting companies from offering their services to the site.

In a response Namecheap quickly suspended the site’s account. However, the “new” Grooveshark then relocated elsewhere and as of today the RIAA is still in the dark as to the identity of the owner.

Hoping to track this person down the music labels recently filed a motion to conduct expedited discovery. This would allow them to order third party services to hand over all personal information they have on the site’s operator.

“Defendants have continued to operate the counterfeit Service, concealing their identities and using multiple infringing domain names registered through at least three different domain name registrars,” the RIAA’s lawyers wrote in their motion.

According to the RIAA, help from other services is needed as they have “no alternative methods” to find out who is operating the “revived” Grooveshark site.

Late last week New York District Court Judge Alison Nathan agreed with the music labels, granting the motion against Namecheap and several other service providers (pdf).

In addition to Namecheap the court filing specifically mentions the “proxy” provider Cloudflare, domain name registrar Dynadot and hosting provider Nodisto.

The RIAA expects that these organizations will have crucial information including payment details and IP-addresses. Thus far none of the third-party service providers have objected to the order, and it’s unlikely that they will.

Coincidentally, Namecheap launched a campaign last week urging its users to protest a new proposal that would put an end to private domain name registrations for some site owners. However, the company does not object to court orders and has complied with similar ones previously.

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