At the end of January last year the U.S. authorities kicked off yet another round of domain seizures, this time against sites connected with sports streaming.
One of the most prominent targets at the time was Rojadirecta, one of Spain’s most popular sites which describes itself as a major Internet sports broadcast index. The site links to free streams of many soccer events plus NBA, MLB, NFL, NPB and IPL matches.
While rights holders see Rojadirecta as an illegal thorn in their side, Spanish courts have already ruled otherwise. The site is owned by a Spanish company that pays its taxes and has been deemed to operate legally in Spain. Not once but twice.
However, that didn’t hold back the U.S. Government’s decision to seize the .com and .org domains of the company.
After the seizure Rojadirecta continued its operation as usual under .es and .me domains. However, it wasn’t planning on giving up the original domains that easily and fought back, in and out of court.
“We immediately initiated talks with the government, through our legal representatives in San Francisco and New York, in order to obtain the return of [our domains],” Rojadirecta’s owner explains now.
“Since it was impossible at that stage to recover domains amicably, we filed a complaint against the Government, the Department of Homeland Security and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency of the United States of America.”
The result was a long court battle in which the U.S. had to show why it was allowed to keep the domain names. Now, after nearly 19 months, it appears that the U.S. authorities are not able to.
Yesterday, United States Attorney Preet Bahrara informed the judge that they are giving up the case.
“…in light of the particular circumstances of this litigation, the Government now seeks to dismiss its amended forfeiture complaint. The decision to seek dismissal of this case will best promote judicial economy and serve the interests of justice,” Bahrara writes.
The case has now been dismissed, meaning that Rojadirecta can welcome back its .com and .org domains. Rojadirecta’s owner says they swiftly informed all the responsible registries and the domains should be up and running again later today.
“Shortly after learning of the court order, we started proceedings with the organizations responsible for all .com and .org domain registrations (Verisign and PIR respectively) in order to restore the domains.”
“In the coming hours Rojadirecta will again be accessible from rojadirecta.com and rojadirecta.org, that is from the domains that never should have been censored,” he concludes.
This is not the first time the authorities have been forced to return a seized domain. Last year music blog Dajaz1 had its domain name returned after more than 12 months. It turned out that the seizure, initiated by the RIAA, was a mistake.
Thus far the “mistakes” have been without consequences for the U.S., but it’s clear that passing SOPA-like legislation where domains can be seized left and right will become harder and harder.