Registrars Clash at Verisign Over Seized “Pirate” Site Domains

Last month City of London Police tried to suspend dozens of "pirate" site domain names by sending threatening letters to several domain registrars. The action, which had limited success, has now developed into a clash between two registrars. Canadian registrar easyDNS has filed a request for enforcement under the ICANN Tranfers Dispute Resolution Policy because competing registrar PDR is refusing to transfer-out three alleged "pirate" site domains.

easydnsEarly October City of London Police approached several domain registrars, demanding that they suspend the domains of various torrent and other file-sharing sites.

Although there appeared to be no legal basis for the requests, India-based registrar PublicDomainRegistry (PDR) was quick to suspend several domains, including those belonging to Extratorrent.com and SumoTorrent.com, some of the largest torrent indexes on the web today.

The Canadian company easyDNS responded very differently. The company is outraged by the seemingly unsubstantiated police threats and has refused to take action, arguing that the police request has no legal basis.

EasyDNS’s approach was welcomed by the operators of several torrent sites, and motivated the owner of three domains to transfer his suspended domains from PDR to easyDNS. However, this was easier said than done, as the Indian registrar is refusing to transfer the domains out without the blessing of City of London Police.

After inquiries from easyDNS and the domain owner PDR did restore the original nameservers, but the domain names in question remain locked.

According to easyDNS this refusal to transfer the domains goes against the policy of domain regulation body ICANN, and this week the Canadian company took action against PDR.

EasyDNS filed a Request For Enforcement (RFE) with Verisign, the registry responsible for .COM/.NET domains. Through this enforcement request easyDNS hopes that PDR can be compelled to transfer-out three domains, as ICANN’s Tranfers Dispute Resolution Policy prescribes.

In a blog post easyDNS CEO Mark Jeftovic voices his disbelief over PDR’s stubborn refusal to cooperate.

“It’s hard to understand why they are taking their marching orders directly from the UK Police, given the stated aims of the London Police ICPU (to shut down the domains of websites they have summarily declared to be criminal) it’s not likely that they will admit the truth of the matter,” Jeftovic notes.

“In other words, the London Police are not going to come back and tell them: ‘Since we don’t have a court order, we guess you have to let those domains transfer away to some other registrar who has a better understanding of the utter lack of legal basis behind these takedowns than you do’,” he adds.

Instead of waiting for a green light from the City of London Police, Jeftovic believes PDR should comply with the rules and regulations of ICANN as all other domain name registrars do.

“They should not be waiting for the London Police to articulate this, what they should be doing is reading up on the ICANN Inter-Registrar Transfers Policy, since they are actually bound by their Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) to abide by it,” Jeftovic says.

TorrentFreak contacted the apparent operator of the three domain names in question but we are yet to receive a response.

The City of London Police crackdown has had minimal impact thus far, as all affected sites we are aware of have continued their operations under new domain names.

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