DHS relied on bizarre legal reasoning and crappy evidence to seize "pirate" domains


28 Responses to “DHS relied on bizarre legal reasoning and crappy evidence to seize "pirate" domains”

  1. Steve Lieber says:

    A dozen or so people have forwarded this to me. Weird. I can only assume that the follow-up will be when DHS nails me for pirating my own work.

    • novium says:

      It’ll be for your own good, didn’t you know that? They’ve only got your best interests at heart. You don’t want to help undermine America, do you?

  2. jramboz says:

    From the techdirt article:

    “Nowhere is there any discussion on how the seizure of domain names has nothing to do with the actual servers.”

    This could be an interesting point. Technically, all they seized were the domain names, not the servers. As I see it, a domain name is essentially a trademark, a unique identifier for a particular “product” (in this case a website). ICE then used those domain names–trademarks–to point to their own servers, the ones hosting the takedown notice page. Essentially, in my thinking, they just applied someone else’s trademark to their product.

    Wouldn’t it be amazing and incredibly ironic if the owners of these websites could sue the DHS for trademark infringement?

  3. enkiv2 says:

    Is it just me, or is it a little fishy that someone ‘just out of college’ would be willing to pull something like this? Presumably, both the material pertaining to the legality of this kind of act and the university culture of collaboration (and, yes, piracy) would be fresh in the mind of a recent graduate?

    • jramboz says:

      Presumably, he’s new on the job and eager to impress. He has to prove himself. It’s also easier to put pressure on someone like that to cooperate.

      Also, I knew people even in college who were anti-piracy and much more toward the conservative side of this debate.

      Though it does make me wonder, did ICE know that this “evidence” was crap? It seems unusual to have such a low-level newbie writing something so important. They had to know that this was going to be controversial, potentially even history making. Did they have the new kid write it so that he could take the fall? I guess we’ll see how it progresses…

  4. abstract_reg says:

    Department of Homeland Security: pardon me but where is the American homeland? I thought that it was a country of immigrants?

  5. Am Elder says:

    I don’t think this is scary, but it is bad behaviour on the part of the DHS. On the face of it, this kind of ‘seizure’ surely goes against at least the spirit of some combination of the fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments to the US constitution.

    However, Cory, I wish you wouldn’t encourage people to feel scared. There’s too much fear in the world as it is and a fearful response will only get in the way of the problem-solving approach we need to take in order to change ill-conceived decisions in the United States government and in industry.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Sadly, it is a common practice in law enforcement to rely on the less qualified agent (new guy) who doesn’t know his shite from shinola. He makes the bust/seizure and then the defendant/accused is stuck trying to convince the judge that the agent acted in bad faith rather than good-faith ignorance. A bad search done in good faith is legit in too many cases. Agent takes the stand at a suppression hearing and argues stupid mumbo-jumbo but the evidence is admitted.

  7. user23 says:

    Call me a cynical bastard -

    but are there any amongst us here at BB who aren’t aware that lobbyists aren’t tantamount to nothing less criminal behavior, bribery & thugism?

    This is a subset of why, oh-former-country-of-mine, I’ve expatriated myself from your Chthonic, tentaculous grip.

  8. pmocek says:

    So what’s the process for dealing with improper warrant of this sort? Is anyone or any agency accountable for these apparent blunders?

  9. EH says:

    Castillo v. Swarski, et al is a case where a plaintiff was able to pursue their case against ICE agents despite their qualified immunity.

  10. Anonymous says:

    @pmocek likely a long lawsuit at the taxpayer’s expense

  11. turn_self_off says:

    Someone explain to me what DHS got to do with “piracy”!

    This is bordering on babylon 5 nightwatch territory…


    Btw, what judge cleared this? He or she must have been virtually at sleep at the time!

    • insert says:

      Or he or she was completely unaware of how The World Wide Intertube works, and took DHS at their word.

    • mdh says:

      the FBI must be psyched by this development, as we all know how non-territorial bureaucrats are.

    • Lobster says:

      To put it simply, the Department of Homeland Security ensures the security of the homeland. That’s not just stopping terrorists at the borders but also protecting property in some situations. They consider piracy to be a form of mass theft; a dramatic reduction in the security of property owned by US citizens.

      You may or may not agree that that should be part of their job but it is a little less arbitrary than big business asking to borrow our expensive shadowy organization as a brute squad.

      • turn_self_off says:

        Ah yes, i need to remind myself that to the powers that be only property ownership have any real value in this world. What are we living in, feudalism?

      • Kevin Kenny says:

        Immigrations and Customs Enforcement now is part of the DHS – so any case that pertains to unlawful imports (including downloading copyright-infringing files across international borders) falls within the DHS purview.

        Besides, didn’t you know that intellectual property infringement is supporting terrorism? Why do you hate America?

      • wygit says:

        When they take a list of sites created by the MPAA and seize the domains without doing any investigation, then yes, they are acting as a brute squad.

      • jramboz says:

        “To put it simply, the Department of Homeland Security ensures the security of the homeland. That’s not just stopping terrorists at the borders but also protecting property in some situations. They consider piracy to be a form of mass theft; a dramatic reduction in the security of property owned by US citizens.”

        That definition scares me. It scares me a lot. You could fit pretty much any action, up to and including gross civil rights violations, under the rubric of protecting the security of the fatherland–er, homeland.

  12. insert says:

    Old people, dude. Don’t trust anyone over 30.

    • Saint Fnordius says:

      I guess we should instead trust just out of college Agent Reynolds, then?

      This will be going on for quite a while in the USA, as under Bush a lot of agencies got politicized, with career federal employees getting disgusted and quitting, and ideological hacks burrowing into hard to fire positions. Right now a lot of new hires have that cognitive dissonance of federal employees being parasites and having cushy jobs, and at the same time craving that job security. They secretly idolize the private sector, and are all too willing to do their dirty work.

      Let’s face it, were pretty much screwed. Not entirely, but this is going to be a long, long, battle and we’re going to be exhausted even if we win. But if we win, it will be worth it.

  13. Anonymous says:

    pretty standard stuff here. lobbyists bribe politicians, politicians do stuff thats bad for everyone but their lobbyist masters and their corporate masters, and then wehn there any uproar they play dumb. this has been and will go on forever

  14. oheso says:

    It’s not surprising that when the US government sets out to censor that they censor the “wrong” stuff. It’s only surprising that they were so transparently inept about it.

    Seriously, they’ve left themselves open to a lawsuit here that will have some wise judge send them packing. Whereas if they had done their homework they could go on censoring for decades.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I’m sure *cough* that it was just a one-time error *cough* and could never *cough* happen again *cough* *cough*. No doubt *cough* it was just an honest *cough* mistake and the government will make everything right in the end *cough* *cough* *cough* .

  16. Ceronomus says:

    Ah, the Department of Homeland Security…

    “Goosestepping our way to a brighter tomorrow.”

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