In recent years various entertainment industry groups have switched their efforts away from legislation, towards voluntary cooperation with various stakeholders.
This has resulted in several agreements with Internet providers, advertising agencies and payment processors, which are all designed to help prevent piracy.
A few months ago this strategy was expanded to cover key players in the domain name industry. In February, the MPAA and the Donuts registry signed a landmark agreement under which the movie industry group acts as “trusted notifier” of “pirate” domains.
Traditionally, it has been very hard for rightsholders to get domain names suspended without a court order, but through voluntary agreements this process is simplified.
A few months have passed since the initial announcement and according to the domain registry the first results are positive.
The MPAA referred the first three domain names to Donuts in March. After a careful inspection, the registry agreed that the associated sites were indeed linked to illegal downloading or streaming.
“We concluded that the first two were identical to well-known pirated content websites, which were subjects of prior court orders and were illegally streaming and providing downloads of movies, including those still in theaters. The third was dedicated to illegally downloading and live streaming television series,” Donuts notes.
In response, Donuts alerted the responsible domain name registrars about the infringing conduct, paired with a request to inform the persons who registered the domains.
This eventually resulted in two domain name suspensions on the registrar level. In the third case the site’s hosting provider took the site offline.
Neither Donuts nor the MPAA have published the targeted domain names. However, additional research reveals that the Donuts domain Primewire.guru was suspended recently, which fits the profile.
A few weeks after the first reports, MPAA submitted another set of three “allegedly infringing” domain names. In two of these cases Donuts agreed that the sites were violating their abuse policies, and after the registrants failed to reply, the domains were suspended.
The third domain name, which remains unnamed, is dedicated to streaming TV series. However, after discussions with the registrar and the owner of the domain, no direct action was taken. The domain owner apparently argued that the site complies with takedown requests, so Donuts says that further investigation is needed to make a final decision.
While the MPAA’s efforts have resulted in some suspensions, there are still several “pirate” sites online with Donuts managed domains. This includes domains with the prominent .movie TLD, so there’s still plenty of policing to do.
From the registry point of view Donuts is satisfied with the progress so far. They are happy to contribute in the “continuing battle against pervasive illegal online piracy” but stress that they aren’t suspending domains names on a whim.
“Donuts has been extremely careful in balancing the rights of its end-user customers along with those of copyright holders. We continue to believe this is a useful and efficient manner for addressing blatant online piracy, and we encourage others in the domain name community to follow suit with similar programs,” the registry concludes.
The MPAA’s Chief of Global Content Protection, Dean Marks, agrees and hopes that more domain name registries will come onboard in the near future.
In addition to the deal with Donuts, the MPAA also signed a similar agreement with Radix, Asia’s largest new gTLD applicant. Whether more registries will follow in the future has yet to be seen.