City of London police tell foreign firms to take down sites accused of piracy

The City of London police have started a takedown campaign against foreign websites merely accused of copyright infringement.

City of London police tell foreign firms to take down sites accused of piracy

Via its newly launched intellectual property crime unit, the City of London police asked EasyDNS to take down a website, despite the fact that it’s not located in the UK. EasyDNS went public after refusing to comply with the request.

Citing copyright infringement, the notice asks EasyDNS to redirect users from a domain used by torrentpond.com, a bittorrent search engine registered by a company in Singapore. It also asks EasyDNS to lock the site’s DNS records to ensure they can’t be tampered with.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always thought it was something that gets decided in a court of law, as opposed to some guy on the internet” sending emails

According to the takedown request, TorrentPond’s owners are “suspected to be involved in the criminal distribution of copyrighted material directly or indirectly”, but it seems they’ve not been convicted of any crime.

A quick glance at TorrentPond shows the site doesn’t host its own database of torrents, but does act as a search engine across sites such as The Pirate Bay and EZTV.

Threatening subtext

EasyDNS said it decided to go public after noting a veiled threat to report the matter to the body that manages the domain system, ICANN, potentially robbing the company of its registrar accreditation.

“Who decides what is illegal? What makes somebody a criminal?” wrote CEO Mark Jeftovic. “Given that the subtext of the request contains a threat to refer the matter to ICANN if we don’t play along, this is a non-trivial question.”

The request is unusual, though not unprecedented, coming from the City of London police rather than a rights holder. A similar case last year saw the now-defunct Serious Organised Crime Agency take down the Rnbxclusive site, apparently without reference to a court order.

The City of London police told PC Pro it had been targeting rights-fringing sites for several months, in partnership with creative trade bodies such as FACT, the BPI and the Publishers’ Association.

Jeftovic said his company wouldn’t block the domain unless forced to do so by court. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always thought it was something that gets decided in a court of law, as opposed to ‘some guy on the internet” sending emails’,” he said.

“We have an obligation to our customers and we are bound by our Registrar Accreditation Agreements not to make arbitrary changes to our customers’ settings without a valid FOA (Form of Authorisation),” he added. “To supersede that we need a legal basis. To get a legal basis something has to happen in court.”

It isn’t clear what will happen next if EasyDNS refuses to block TorrentPond.com’s domain. According to the takedown notice, the company has 48 hours to respond to the request before the police refer the matter to their Canadian counterparts and ICANN.

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