This follows a ruling at the European Court last year that Verisign's actions in blocking the domain of German business Musikjetzt GmbH constituted an unlawful restraint of trade, and a subsequent European decision that all primary DNS management should be run under the newly formed United Nations Internet Oversight Service.
The Musikjetzt service allows music fans to stream their favourite songs on demand under the new copyright collective licensing regulations introduced Europe-wide in early 2013, and has sharply increased the consumption of music by independent artists.
Shares in major US record labels have fallen over 40% in the past year, which industry insiders have repeatedly blamed on the way that Europeans "don't respect copyrights." As one CEO put it, "If they won't respect our rules voluntarily, we have to make them respect them."
A spokeman for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said "Economic attacks on fundamental US industries are a bigger threat than terrorism, and we will always respond accordingly."
No-one from the Recording Industry Association of America was available for comment.
I think the entire DNS system needs to be out of the hands of government bodies of any type, preferably relying on a cooperative, distributed solution, like the internet itself (theoretically) does/can.
I think it is amazing how divorced from US law the US government has become. Seizing domains without having previously gotten a conviction for a crime is against the law, and the idea that a DNS lookup is the same as "routing all traffic thru the US" is absurd as well. DNS records are cached globally.
I'm afraid that the solutions will have to be technical, and not governmental.
There was a small project a while back at the start of the domain seizures where a few people tried to develop a .p2p domain that relied on, you guessed it, peer to peer distribution of DNS records, effectively making it impossible to seize domains. I don't really know where it went, but considering I've never heard of them again I'd say the project's dead.
> We currently believe the best way to create a stable environment for TLDs is to enact a central authority. We know this will cause much argument within the community, but we have made the decision that we believe will be best for the continued development of this project.
That, being against the whole point of it, probably killed it.
As a Spaniard and thanks to Wikileaks we've had the inside info on how the spanish government dropped their pants and let the american ambassador have a say on our IP enforcing laws so they followed the american lobby agenda. And we were one of the most rebel EU countries, others went down way easier... (Allô la France!)
In the same way that .ca belongs to Canada, com/net/org/us belong to the US. Think of them as the sponsoring organization that originally created them.
The only thing the US government has ever given up is control over the registry and DNS management. Under a MoU that facility was handed over to ICANN with the understanding that they would select US based private sector companies to take on the duties.
Other TLDs that are sponsored internationally but managed in the US (like .me or .ws) is a whole different issue, but this one is pretty clean cut.
The new gTLD program is just a money land-grab. It's been well known within the domain industry that firing up a new TLD is one of the most profitable things you can do. Between speculators and brand protection agencies you are guaranteed a minimum of 100k+ registrations. Multiply that by $20-$30 bucks a pop.
In other news, ICANN is starting an "international development initiative".
It is fairly clear that .US is for US companies, .COM is international commercial, and the .GOV and .MIL domains are restricted to the US.
RFC 1591 (March 1994)
"Each of the generic TLDs was created for a general category of organizations. The country code domains (for example, FR, NL, KR, US) are each organized by an administrator for that country. ... These administrators are performing a public service on behalf of the Internet community. Descriptions of the generic domains and the US country domain follow.
Of these generic domains, five are international in nature, and two are restricted to use by entities in the United States.
World Wide Generic Domains:
COM - This domain is intended for commercial entities, that is companies. ...
EDU - This domain was originally intended for all educational institutions. ...
NET - This domain is intended to hold only the computers of network providers, that is the NIC and NOC computers, the administrative computers, and the network node computers. ...
ORG - This domain is intended as the miscellaneous TLD for organizations that didn't fit anywhere else. ...
INT - This domain is for organizations established by international treaties, or international databases.
United States Only Generic Domains:
GOV - This domain was originally intended for any kind of government office or agency. More recently a decision was taken to register only agencies of the US Federal government in this domain. State and local agencies are registered in the country domains (see US Domain, below).
MIL - This domain is used by the US military.
Example country code Domain:
US - As an example of a country domain, the US domain provides for the registration of all kinds of entities in the United States on the basis of political geography, ..."
Wikipedia claims that it started out as a general TLD, as did .gov and .mil, and only became attached to the Dep. Education in 2001, which I am sure is wrong - I'm sure they adminstered it earlier.
That's just a bureaucratic illusion. As we can see from recent domain seizures, the feds can take over any of these domains, unilaterally, and without any notice or due process.
None of these people have been deprived of due process. The due process is to go to the courts to challenge it.
If you don't like either of these points, you'll need to go to the courts and have the laws changed or thrown out. Thats how America works.
EDIT: Downvotes are not how you disagree on HN. Well thought out replies are.
However, the phrase "due process" also often means "what the law should say the government should do." Such an interpretation usually appeals to a higher moral authority, the Constitution, etc. This is how people often criticize the PATRIOT Act for violating due process, even though the PATRIOT Act defines clear processes to be followed. These people are saying, in effect, that the processes defined by existing law don't count as "due process."
You are right that court challenges are the way to fix problematic laws. But I disagree that "none of these people have been deprived of due process," because I think that any process worthy of being called "due process" should involve, among others, presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and a bunch of documents signed by judges. I don't know what the law is really like in the US, but seizing property in the absence of a criminal conviction (except temporarily, to gather evidence) sounds like a gross violation of due process.
"Assets used in the commission of a crime can be seized regardless of if you are charged or even found guilty of that crime."
If you don't have to prove there was a crime then how can you claim that the assets were used in the crime? This would mean the government/police could seize assets with nothing more than finger pointing. I'm ignorant of the law here, but I thought you were innocent until proven guilty. Not "innocent sans assets until proven otherwise."
However, the constitution is also the law, and the fourth amendment is pretty clear on the matter. Further, other federal laws make it a crime to violate constitutional rights, due process, etc.
If the constitution is the highest law of the land, then every one of these illegal seizures is a crime. If the constitution is not the highest law of the land, then the Asset Forfieture law, which was enacted by congress that was created by the constitution, is null and void because the congress is null and void.
Further, in Mabury v. Madison the supreme court ruled that any law contrary to the constitution was null and void the moment it was enacted, not the moment it is struck down.
This means everyone participating in these thefts of property without due process are liable for their criminal acts.
Due Process requires that a conviction be obtained before seizing assets.
If you want to amend the constitution, there is a procedure for doing so. It requires more than just the congress passing a law.
Just because I explained how it works, dosen't mean I agree with the policy. US asset seizure and forfeiture laws suck. They are an abuse of the "war on drugs" powers in the same way that wholesale wiretapping is an abuse of the "war on terror" powers.
Stop downvoting me like I had something to do with the creation of this system!
Well thought out posts get well thought out replies.
For one, we're talking about foreigners here and you're saying they aren't deprived of due process - they merely need to come to American courts to get the laws changed. Hello!?
Second, you're missing the whole "your TLD is one of ours so you're in our jurisdiction no matter where you are" angle to this. The USA is attempting, yet again, to make its laws global.
Third, even if this was just domain name seizure as you seem to think, the government didn't warn or even inform people, let alone charge them with something. They aren't even officially admitting to it such that you can appeal. Even for Americans there is no due process.
Fourth, your "just like our drug laws" attitude betrays an incredible lack of perspective. Your drug laws are only slightly better than Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. Your forfeiture laws are not only fundamentally unjust but also rife with corruption.
Then you capped it off with "That's how America Works."
If you happened into a tech article on a subject you didn't know anything and added your opinion you'd be downvoted for getting in the way. Why should this be any different?
Or how WW2 the USA waited out much of the war while its allies were getting pummeled. Joining the war only when the USA was attacked. As spoils the USA has military bases in Germany, Italy, Japan, etc, and joint political control of much oil-rich and strategically important territory: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2729132
Please tell me this is a joke. I don't know whether to laugh or be sad.
Do you go for the seeders or do you go after the torrent search engines? One is whack a mole, one is destroy the C&C.
I know which one I'd choose.
It's more analogous to ignoring the street level criminals and going after the Don, who never get his hands dirty any more but is directing all those that do.
Edit: I'm not arguing for or against, just want to point out that there's no point going after the individual seeders.
> It didn't actually say that. Where does it say streaming sites?
> ICE is not focusing its efforts just on web sites that stream dodgy content
> but those that link to them
I also don't understand how you are equating this with torrent search engines.
Only some of the domains seized were torrent search engines.
... people who get paid to direct you to the nearest drug dealer, and only to drug dealers, organized by type of drug, quality, and potentially even with a rating system.
These sites are more than just innocent passers-by. They aren't the "drug dealer," but they aren't just a dude on the street who bought drugs that one time and might know a guy. Where the line is drawn between facilitation and not facilitation, I don't know. But where some say "they're identical to Google," I personally see a very large, obvious distinction.
> But where some say "they're identical to Google,"
> I personally see a very large, obvious distinction.
The parent poster is right under the current law (despite the downvotes). Google Product Search has numerous non-infringing uses, whereas a site that exists to do nothing more than link to pirated content will have a lot more difficulty in showing they aren't contributing to copyright violation.
The biggest, most recent case involving this was Grokster vs MGM 
The court found:
We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties
Wikipedia has a good discussion of the ruling:
Justice Ginsburg, joined by Kennedy and Rehnquist, claim that "[t]his case differs markedly from Sony" based on insufficient evidence of noninfringing uses. On the other hand, Justice Breyer, joined by Stevens and O'Connor, claims "a strong demonstrated need for modifying Sony (or for interpreting Sony's standard more strictly) has not yet been shown," primarily because "the nature of [...] lawfully swapped files is such that it is reasonable to infer quantities of current lawful use roughly approximate to those at issue in Sony.
The key point is * non infringing uses*. The court needs to be convinced that they exist, and this occurs on a case-by-case basis.
You (and I) may not like this law, but that is how it currently is being interpreted.
If I remember correctly, in the few cases that the domains were confiscated, there was no prosecution, no courts involved. The owners of the domains had practically no means to question or challenge the seizure. At least that's what the media reported at the time.
Argument (I don't completely agree, but someone will make it sometime)- I think it is not good for humanity to trust the jurisdiction of a country which has demonstrated tainted judgement by getting involved in nuclear weapons and given their recent involvements in the middle east. The United States is not the country whose jurisdiction should control any form of worldwide open platform.
Just a thought. This stuff needs some sort of international law. No jurisdiction in the world is good enough to rule the web, in any damned way. We cannot take our narrow minds into the future for our race.
Pretty much every western country has nuclear weapons. If you're referencing the fact that the US is the only country to have dropped nuclear weapons on another country, keep in mind that it wasn't until 30 or so years later that we realized how bad nuclear weapons are.
Hell, in the 80s, at my uni, there was an experiment to see if you could use nuclear radiation to clean toilet water.
Don't get me wrong though, I agree with your other points.
Nuclear radiation is very different to weapons, your local major hospital has a dozen different uses for radiation (more powerful than cleaning water).
The only cases I'm aware of where it's more murky are: 1) non-citizens held by the U.S. armed forces outside the territory of the U.S., alleged to be "enemy combatants"; and 2) illegal aliens awaiting deportation, who do still have some limited right to due process in challenging their deportation proceedings, but there's more controversy around it.
That said, the doctrine used in asset seizure cases (generally connected to the failed war on drugs) is that it's the seized property itself that is suspected to be guilty, and property doesn't have any of these rights. One can easily imagine them trying the same crap here.
Note: I am not concerned with immigration, but de-facto denial of basic rights and discrimination on the basis of nationality in cases where those rights are basic human rights, and not privileges granted by the state.
Japan gets a lot of flak for their policies on this issue, but it should be dealt with in all countries and for all people, including illegal immigrants, deported people or unpopular groups because while the state or people can choose to deport someone, they shouldn't ever be able to steal your kids. The post I linked to seemed to be using it as an immigration issue. That is not what I am arguing though.
By definition? By definition!?
If that's the case, then as long as the bulk of pirates are in the same country as the copyright owner, then by definition, no violation has occurred.
I am wondering though: Couldn't the US make similar claims on .org and .us (and .edu, .biz?) domains?
I'm prepared to believe that wikipedia is wrong, but you'll have to prove it. with references, citations, and what not :)
The companies you are really looking for are Afilias USA, Inc and Afilias LLC. If they were really based out of Ireland, their IP space would be allocated by RIPE (Réseaux IP Européens) instead of ARIN (American Registry for Internet Numbers).
This isn't new, and it's why anti-cybersquatting legislation (15 U.S.C. §1125) can be enforced.
This seizing of domains has been kind of the de-facto behavior for at least some five years by now. In my head this new policy does not change anything (don't run gambling sites on a .com domain etc?). Hell, I might even go as far as to say that it might be a positive thing if there was no such thing as a generic TLD. Most corporations registers all their domains globally anyway (whether that is good or bad is another story).
Not the most relevant Google query, but it takes the idea home, I guess: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=us+seizes+domain+20... -- I didn't bother looking for older entries than that.
I want to agree with you, because I wish that was the case, but it isn't. The 15-25 set just doesn't care. If they can get a movie for free on bittorrent, or pay $20/mo to stream as many as they want, they'll go for bittorrent the majority of the time.
My sister also (like my sibling comment) tried Netflix, Hulu, and the other streaming media systems. Netflix doesn't have the content they care about, Hulu was great until they were flooded with commercials. The first media business that figures out how to sell to this generation will get adoption quickly.
This isn't a new story. They've been trying (and getting close: look at the SNL digital shorts and marketing campaigns like the Old Spice Guy) but so far haven't quite won over BitTorrent et al. yet. The longer they wait, the closer their product gets to the $0.99 song from iTunes in that the average consumer won't be willing to pay much more than $1 for it.
It's too soon to tell, but the model Apple has taken with iTunes Match seems promising. Basically, instead of selling access to the media (which they already do), they're selling a cloud service that's useful even if you already have the media. And they manage to not compete with themselves because the service is free if you buy the media from them. So free that it's not even a service, it's just the way their store works now.
The usage patterns of TV and movies are different than music, but they aren't so different that something like that couldn't work.
The first major difference is that people approaching 25 have a great deal more money than people at 15.
All that aside, I for one notice a huge predilection in my peers (of the 19-22 set)to buy into services such as hulu and netxflix, and to look there first for their media. Why? Because the services are instant, cheap, and of much better than most pirated media.
FYI, netflix charges $8 a month...significantly less than the 20 you site.
15 is usually around the age that kids start getting proficient enough with their computer that they can figure out how to bootleg movies. 25 is about the time that they mature out of it.
>The first major difference is that people approaching 25 have a great deal more money than people at 15.
Do they? Most of the people that I know around that age (I'm that age) have very little disposable income. While netflix (which doesn't have even remotely close to the same amount of titles as TPB) is only $8/mo, that $8/mo is a 12 pack of PBR.
>All that aside, I for one notice a huge predilection in my peers (of the 19-22 set)to buy into services such as hulu and netxflix, and to look there first for their media.
Are your peers mostly wealthy (relatively) computer programmers?
>significantly less than the 20 you [c]ite
Netflix and TPB aren't competitors. Do you think that major movie studios would offer all of their titles for $8/mo? There is already several massive experiments (netflix, hulu) taking place to test this, and the result is: no, they wouldn't.
My peers are generally not computer programmers, no, nor do they have much disposable income. They do live in the the united states, which means realtive certian other populations, they are insanely wealthy. We scrape by in the lower end of cost of living in this nation with large student debts, and housing costs in the range of $400 a month...from that, it isn't hard to split a netflix bill two or three ways. It costs, effectively, spare change to buy a netflix account between three people. Seriously on the margin of 80% of the people I know have a netflix account, with far fewer understanding the mechanics of bootlegging movies. We have netflix before we have a tv subscription.
Asserting that pirating is a question of maturity first and foremost is a very daring thing to do, to say the least.
I saw a report the other day on lower CD sales for local Quebec music. The whole time they were calling for the end of the world, then at the end of the show they mention that online sales are up. Nothing explaining why CDs are better for artist than online sales through iTunes and others. Nothing that says if the majority of loss sales are now digital purchases or if the total amount of buying is down. Instead it's the same bullshit stuff. CDs are down and we are making less money from CD sales. We need taxes on MP3 players that go (I don't get how exactly) to the artists etc...
Sorry that was unrelated as a rant but this is just how annoyed I am with the situation.
Consider that Rogers and Bell don't want to make it easy for anyone to steal their market share. I don't have cable, but I'd pay for Hulu, if it were available here. Look at the recent Internet Metering attempt by Rogers and Bell to stifle innovation in the way Canadians get TV and Movies.
Proof: Take a look at their top 100. only 2 you can stream in the US, all the 98 others are via DVD only.
Many in the "15-25 set" pay about $20/mo to download through an offshore VPS, private trackers and servers. This money would go to the content holders if they didn't cripple their "precious content" with bundling packages, intrusive advertisements, DRM and region restrictions.
My sister is in that range and she and most of her friends pay for content when they can, or so she tells me.
This is very obvious with music. Everybody I know has a music collection far bigger than what they could reasonably afford.
That said, fragmenting the internet into nationalistic TLD silos will probably have some negative consequences for the cross cultural nature of the internet, and it might help to give the non-obviously nation-based TLDs over to an international ruling body.
It's something to be weighed by the US govt. I hope they consider both sides carefully.
Think bootleg DVDs. According to the linked Guardian article, most of the domains ICE has seized were selling counterfeit physical goods.
 Key point: These domains being seized aren't actually giving away streams or download links for free, they're being reimbursed through ad revenue or affiliate programs.
Side note: A popular watch brand's repair facility in the USA gets a large number of counterfeit watches in for repair every day. They would like to see these thing eradicated, but are restricted by law to not seize the fake goods, after all they have no proof that someone somewhere profited from the production of the fake watch, which be definition is infringement. Anyone can replicate a popular product, but the moment it starts to compete with the original on the marketplace, it is copyright infringement. Blindly stealing fake watches from potential customers is illegal. So, this Watch company, if it desires to do so, will ask the customer if they would like to sell the watch to the company. If the customer agrees, they inform them that selling counterfeit goods is illegal, and they then have jurisdiction to seize the fake watch.
The US off-shored the facilities for production of physical media, that's how. Not that CDs and DVDs were ever much of a US thing to begin with.
Seems to me that you have to be in jurisdiction somewhere. Not to argue that American jurisdiction is necessarily the best..
How will this stop anything? Wasn't .com handed to the UN to manage?
I won't vouch for their exact argument, but this was around the time Sudan was elected to the Commission on Human Rights.
ICE spokesperson: All your domain are belong to U.S.
By this I mean that the Internet is fundamentally not as distributed as it seems. This is the flaw that most people who argue for wireless mesh networks have. The don't actually understand the technical complexity in how the Internet is run. But anyway, let's admit for the moment that the edge network is not decentralized (it is completely dependent on its ISP). Well, then the Internet is kind of decentralized, right? No. In order to cover the vast areas of land and ocean that connect the Internet we require massive fiber infrastructure development. But if that were somehow provided it would be distributed, right? No. As two Northwestern phd students and I measured in a paper in submission, more than 60% of p2p traffic passes through one of a handful of Tier 1 ISPs.
No matter how you swing it, the Internet is not really decentralized, it is balanced between a few powerful companies and governments (which thus have to operate under the law of their hosting countries). A distributed or unregulated Internet is a pipe dream.
I'm curious what you mean here. I am reasonably sure that mesh networks are actually distributed, at least internally. Are you referring about the Internet gateways that are generally a part of a mesh proposal, or possibly that mesh networks don't scale like centralized networks do?
A distributed or unregulated Internet is a pipe dream.
I think that we could create a truly distributed network. It would not be nearly as efficient as the Internet we are accustomed to, and it would not be based on the current Internet Protocol.
I'm saying that mesh networks are 1) not connectable on the scale of the Internet and 2) not scalable.
No offense but many DS papers have been published in this area and most aren't even positive in the theoretical sense, much less the practical. Crudely, I think it's time to put code where your mouth is ;)
Ah, you have me there. Actually, I am interested in this space and would appreciate a good academic overview. Maybe some links to these papers you mention?
http://xkcd.com/538/ contains some relevant wisdom.
Interesting idea, but I don't think this analogy works. Sovereign nations routinely assume complete control over natural resources located within their territories. (Maybe they shouldn't, but that's another argument.)
There is some precedent for non-states getting "international personhood" but so far its only happened to the UN and even that is only minimal personhood.  I don't think the logic would carry over.
Treating it as a natural resource would probably put it under the jurisdiction of states where it resides. At that point, maybe states can do what Equador did with nature and treat it as having fundamental rights in their constitution.
http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/4/1835.pdf (very long and I don't think mostly relevant).
They've been acting as though they had jurisdiction for a while; there have been tons of .com domains seized for non-US sites. This is just a confirmation of their position.