The action is being billed as “A Monster from Rome” and when you look at the scale and implications that’s hard to contest.
The Public Prosecutor of Rome, Italy, has targeted a total of 27 file-sharing related sites, said to include BitTorrent, cyberlocker and other linking services.
All of their domains have been blocked at the ISP level and are inaccessible in Italy. The prosecutor has already indicated that he wants to progress the case internationally in pursuit of full-blown domain seizures.
Currently a partial list of domains has been released which features Rapidgator, one of the world’s largest file-hosting sites and one that has drawn the ire of key Hollywood and music industry groups in recent times. Also included are Uploaded, BitShare, NowVideo, NowDownload, VideoPremium, QueenShare and ClipsHouse.
“The domains of sites linking to torrent files, in order to download illegal copies of music and movies, have been seized [blocked] this week as ordered by Preliminary investigation of the Judge of Rome, at the request of the public prosecutor, following an investigation of the Italian Cybercrime Police,” reads a statement obtained by TorrentFreak.
The action is being described as the largest domain-focused crackdown since US Homeland Security seized more than 70 domains in May 2010. TorrentFreak requested a full list of blocked domains but was informed that it’s currently unavailable and will be released in due course.
Fulvio Sarzana, a lawyer with the Sarzana and Partners law firm specializing in Internet and copyright disputes, is concerned by the developments.
“I think that operations like this one could jeopardize freedom of speech, and endanger legitimate web sites, being also a risk for the civil liberties. Copyright cannot be considered as a more essential right than freedom of expression, or a more important matter than a free and open internet,” he said.
While it’s normally presumed that the major movie and record companies sit behind these types of aggressive actions, Sarzana – who has assisted service providers and file-hosting sites in the past – says in this instance the complainant is a small player.
“The order of the seizure of the websites has been given at the request of a small Italian distributor for one single cartoon movie: it is clear that there is not any proportion between the seizure of entire sites (and domains) containing millions of legal files and the potential violation of the copyright of a single movie,” he concludes.
Contrary to early reports there are no BitTorrent sites included among the 27 sites. The full list is published at the bottom of this article and a complete list of all the blocked sites in Italy can be found here.
The domains are currently blocked only on the DNS level which means that if users switch to OpenDNS or Google DNS they can access the sites again.
This is the full list of 27 domains: