Who Needs SOPA: Judge Orders Every US ISP To Block Entire Websites Accused Of Enabling Piracy

from the that's-not-how-any-of-this-works dept

Almost exactly a decade ago, a few months after the US Congress rejected the site blocking setup of the SOPA copyright bill, which would enable copyright holders to force ISPs to block access entirely to websites deemed as being dedicated to “piracy,” we wrote a post about how it wasn’t even clear SOPA was needed when courts were willing to issue such blocking orders already. That was in a case around counterfeiting, where Louis Vuitton sought, and obtained, an order from a judge that demanded that domain registrars and ICANN effectively wipe certain website domains off the internet entirely.

Fast forward almost exactly a decade and TorrentFreak points us to a somewhat similar series of orders that demand that every ISP in the US block access entirely to three websites accused of infringement by a series of movie, TV, sports, and news content providers in Israel. The three orders are all embedded below, though they’re all basically the same — but they order non-party ISPs to block access to three domains that are accused of showing infringing streams: israel-tv.com, israel.tv, and sdarot.tv.

For all three of the websites, no defendants showed up in court (not too surprising, given that the cases were filed in the US). Without a defendant showing up, the court ruled for the plaintiffs in a default judgment — which is pretty typical. However, what is atypical, is that the judge then basically set the 1st Amendment on fire, and basically ordered a ton of non-parties to do things to stop enabling any access to these websites. It first issues a permanent injunction for anyone operating or working with those websites, but then issues an order for EVERY single ISP in the US to block access to these websites.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that all ISPs (including without limitation those set forth in Exhibit B hereto) and any other ISPs providing services in the United States shall block access to the Website at any domain address known today (including but not limited to those set forth in Exhibit A hereto) or to be used in the future by the Defendants (“Newly-Detected Websites”) by any technological means available on the ISPs’ systems. The domain addresses and any NewlyDetected Websites shall be channeled in such a way that users will be unable to connect and/or use the Website, and will be diverted by the ISPs’ DNS servers to a landing page operated and controlled by Plaintiffs (the “Landing Page”) which can be reached as follows:

Domain – zira-usa-11026.org
IP Address: (Dedicated

The Landing Page will include substantially the following information:

On April 26, 2022, in the case of United King Distributors, et al. v. Does 1-10, d/b/a Sdarot.tv (S.D.N.Y., Case No. 1:21-cv-11026 (KPF) (RWL)), the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued an Order to block all access to this website/ service due to copyright infringement

It’s unclear who created this particular landing page, but it does not exist, and at least it doesn’t include the silly badges with eagles on it.

The blocking order shows a very long list of ISPs, covering nine pages. For unclear reasons, the list shows not just the names of the ISPs, but also the estimated population covered, the number of states they cover, and their max speeds. As far as I can tell, the list appears to come from BroadbandNow’s “Internet Providers in the United States of America” list. This is the first page that comes up if you Google “list of US ISPs” and it also displays the exact same data sets in the exact same order. The list doesn’t match exactly, though, so it appears to be a subset of the larger list — though the court order says that it should be considered to apply to any US ISP.

And Judge Katherine Polk Failla doesn’t stop there. After ordering every ISP to block these websites, she also orders all third party service providers to cease doing business with these three websites. This includes an incredibly long list of possible service providers (notably a list that is even more in-depth than would have been required under SOPA — which, again, Congress rejected):

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that third parties providing services used in connection with Defendants’ operations — including, without limitation, ISPs, web hosting providers, CDN service providers, DNS service providers, VPN service providers, domain name purchasing service, domain names privacy service, back-end service providers, affiliate program providers, web designers, shippers, search-based online advertising services (such as through-paid inclusion, paid search results, sponsored search results, sponsored links, and Internet keyword advertising), any banks, savings and loan associations, merchant account providers, payment processors and providers, credit card associations, or other financial institutions, including without limitation, PayPal, and any other service provider which has provided services or in the future provides services to Defendants and/or the infringing Website (including without limitation those set forth in the list annexed and made Exhibit C annexed hereto) (each, a “Third Party Service Provider”) — having knowledge of this Order by service, actual notice or otherwise be and are hereby permanently enjoined from providing services to the Website (through any of the domain names set forth in Exhibit A hereto or at any Newly-Detected Websites) or to any Defendant in conjunction with any of the acts set forth in subparagraphs (A)(1) to (A)(6) above;

And, as if that was not enough, she also orders domain registrars effectively kill those domains as well and hand them over to the plaintiffs:

  1. That all domain names associated with the infringing Website, including without limitation those set forth in Exhibit A hereto, as well as any Newly-Detected Websites, be transferred to Plaintiffs’ ownership and control; and
  2. That in accordance with this Court’s inherent equitable powers and its power to coerce compliance with its lawful orders, and due to Defendants’ on-going operation of their counterfeiting activities, in the event Plaintiffs identifies any Newly-Detected Website registered or operated by any Defendant and used in conjunction with the streaming any of Plaintiffs’ Works, including such Websites utilizing domain names containing any of Plaintiffs’ service mark or marks confusingly similar thereto, Plaintiffs shall have the ongoing authority to serve this Order on the domain name registries and/or the individual registrars holding and/or listing one or more of such the domain names associated with the Newly-Detected Websites; and
  3. That the domain name registries and/or the individual registrars holding and/or listing one or more of the domain names associated with the Newly-Detected Websites, within seven (7) days of service of a copy of this Order, shall temporarily disable any domain names associated with the Newly-Detected Websites, make them inactive, and channel them in such a way that users will be unable to connect and/or use the Website, and will be diverted to the Landing Page (as defined in Paragraph B, above); and
  4. That after thirty (30) business days following the service of this Order, the registries and/or the individual registrars shall provide Plaintiffs with all contact information for the Newly-Detected Websites; shall transfer any domain names associated with the Newly-Detected Websites to the ownership and control of Plaintiffs, through the registrar of Plaintiffs’ choosing, unless the Defendant has filed with the Court and served upon Plaintiffs’ counsel a request that such Newly-Detected Websites be exempted from this Order or unless Plaintiffs requests that such domain names associated with the NewlyDetected Websites be released rather than transferred;

Again, this is way, way beyond what even SOPA would have allowed. But Congress didn’t do it — and for good reason. This ruling has some really significant 1st Amendment issues. Ordering the complete takedown of a website like this is the equivalent of shutting down a magazine — ordering that the landlord evict the publisher, that the printing presses be destroyed, that the postal service refuse to send copies of the magazine, that the local waste management company refuse to pick up the garbage, etc. etc. An order like that would obviously have tremendous 1st Amendment problems as an attack on speech, even if you recognize that some of the content was infringing.

Of course, given that the websites chose not to show up in US court, it seems unlikely that they will challenge the order. It is possible that some ISPs might push back on it, not because they want to support piracy, but because of the extraordinarily problematic general precedent of allowing a judge to order such an extreme internet kill order. Allowing these kinds of orders to survive creates tremendous instability for the internet, and hopefully some ISPs will push back.

Filed Under: , , , , , , , , ,
Companies: dbs satellite services, hot communication, screen il, united king film distribution

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Comments on “Who Needs SOPA: Judge Orders Every US ISP To Block Entire Websites Accused Of Enabling Piracy”

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Rico R. (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Prior Restraint.

Cue the copyright maximalists saying, “bUt tHeRe’S nO fIrSt aMeNdMeNt pRoTeCtIoN fOr cOpYrIgHt iNfRiNgEmEnT…”

True, but the last time I checked, people’s first amendment rights don’t vanish for the rest of their lives the moment they break one law.

This ruling cannot stand. Hopefully, the ISPs will push back!

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Considering it is a case where they don’t even know if the defendants are in the US one does wonder how a US court has actual jurisdiction.

OMFG the lawsuit was served by sending emails to the various websites with a dropbox link to the documents in the case.

Plaintiff may issue a Rule 45 subpoena to each of the vendors providing services to the website located at http://www.israel.tv (the Website) consisting of Google, Mycloud.my, Facebook, Name.com, Cloudflare, Visa, Mastercard, Roku, the Apple App Store, the Amazon.com App Store, Joel A. Boyle, and Jewella Privacy Service, Inc., to obtain the names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of the operator and/or owners of the Website

consisting of GoDaddy.com, Domaincontrol.com, Mastercard, Visa, Peerless Network, Onvoy LLC and the Apple App Store, to obtain the names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of the operator and/or owners of the Website (the “Defendants”); and it is further ORDERED, that service shall be deemed sufficient upon Plaintiffs’ serving the pleadings and this motion on Defendants by (1) providing a link to DropBox to a folder containing such court documents, and sending such link to Defendants through the Websites Contact Us customer support portal; and (2) providing the same link to Defendants by texting the same to phone numbers (234) 217-3021 and (646) 968-0573, the numbers identified by Defendants for customer service

Ummm is the court aware that not every phone number can be texted?

You get a random email saying you are being sued and click here for the information…
Service via Ransomware attack vector anyone?

So no conclusive evidence the defendants are in the US, let alone that courts jurisdiction, service via dropbox link in an email & in text to customer service phone numbers.

What in the actual fuck.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Yes, 800,888,866, 844 are the current toll free calling numbers, but a company has to purchase it to have it, but none of those would be capable of getting texts.

The US market didn’t plan for the explosive growth of pagers, cell phones so weird things have happened.

They just keep adding new area codes to “create” more numbers but someone can move from NYC to Las Vegas and keep their number so to reach them you have to dial the NYC area code & number… if you just dial the number you most likely will end up calling someone else with a Vegas number who might be in Vegas or Florida.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:6

Yes, 800, 888, 866, 844 are the current toll free calling numbers, but a company has to purchase it to have it, but none of those would be capable of getting texts.

Which is how it works in the UK. Numbers that a companies have to pay for so their customers can call them can’t be texted, and there may be others. But if I want to call home and have no minutes left, I can instead send a text because it’s a standard area code.

Anonymous Coward says:

We long ago lost any respect for members of Congress and the State legislatures, have always had doubts about anyone and everyone we elect to Executive branches of the U.S. and the State governments, and we can now add the Judicial branches to the that list, joining all the other countries whose citizens long ago realized this. I wonder if this might have a subconscious impact the next time I’m chosen for jury duty…

Whoever says:


It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with the domain registration: “israel.tv” is registered through a Netherlands-based registrar and the TLD is sponsored by Tuvalu.

However, the “tv” domain is actually managed by Verisign, which may feel obliged to comply. I wonder what their contract to manage the “.tv” domain says about this?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:


“that annoying Piracy; It’s a Crime advert on every DVD”

The one that infected legally bought media, making them less valuable due to unskippable propaganda every time you played a legally purchased DVD, which would never been seen by people who actually pirated?

I swear that damn thing, along with unskippable trailers, TV ads and region coding, drove more people to piracy than anything else.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re:

[U]nskippable propaganda every time you played a legally purchased DVD, which would never been seen by people who actually pirated?

They did actually make it skippable in the end due to just this problem, which is why I didn’t say “unskippable.” Nowadays, your unskippable rubbish comes in the form of being thanked for supporting the British film industry by legally purchasing the DVD. Two problems: 1) how has the British film industry been supported when the production of a movie hasn’t featured the involvement of any UK company; and 2) how have I supported any film industry when I purchased the movie pre-owned?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“1) how has the British film industry been supported when the production of a movie hasn’t featured the involvement of any UK company”

I rarely buy new physical media any more, and when I do it’s from boutique labels such as Arrow, 88 Films and Indicator. All British labels, but they’re rarely new British productions, since their focus is on providing high quality releases for older cult films from around the world. Only Arrow is really in the business of releasing newer British productions.

I suppose the idea is that if you’re buying a legal release from within the UK, you’re paying money to those labels, local distributors, the BBFC, etc., and you’d be amazed at how many movies are shot in UK facilities without realising, but for some movies it’s definitely a stretch.

“2) how have I supported any film industry when I purchased the movie pre-owned?”

Well, you didn’t but the person who originally owned it did.

This was one thing I always tried to point out when people were talking about “losses” due to piracy based on how much they’d get if someone bought a copy at full retail price. A person being unable to pirate would be able to buy a used copy perfectly legally, and they’d still get nothing.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Well, you didn’t, but the person who originally owned it did.

And if there were no pre-owned market, then purchasers of new media would throw their old discs in the rubbish before going out to buy new, with only pirates watching movies without paying and everyone else going without. Basically, my point still stands.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Well the best people to inflict the don’t steal from us message on is the people stupid enough to actually pay you.

Unskippable… until the hit stop then hit menu thing became more common on players to bypass all that.

Region Coding… well up until they discovered that corporations wouldn’t make specialty players for each region because they like making money.

The one I enjoyed was what could have been a DVD5 being sold as a DVD9 because they packed it with 101 trailers to fill up the space to justify charging the same price as other DVDs in the bin that had movies over an hour long.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Tanner Andrews (profile) says:


what does “non-party” mean?

A person not a part of the litigation is a non-party.

Think of a typical suit, A v. B. A is the plaintiff, B is the defendant. The parties are A and B.

A and/or B could be several people each. You might have Coyote v. Acme Supplies and Warner Dynamite Co, alleging strict liability for defective explosives; in that case A is Coyote and B is Acme and Warner.

When the judge enjoins the railroad company from delivering the explosives, the railroad is a non-party. Generally that injunction is going to be subject to challenge, if it is ever served on the railroad. At the very least, the railroad has a right to be heard, or possibly even be made a party, before it can be barred from carrying goods according to its tariff or required to take up the siding at the Warner plant.

Here, the ISPs are not parties, and are ordered to Do Stuff. They have not had notice of the action or the opportunity to be heard, and so have been denied due process. Indeed, having not been served, they are probably not subject to the jurisdiction of the court at all.

Naughty Autie says:


According to this Wikipedia article:

When users try to access blocked content they are redirected to a warning page. This tells them that they are not able to access an ‘over 18 status’ Internet site and a filtering mechanism has restricted their access.

I’m on Tesco Mobile backed on the O2 network, and the only time I can’t access the type of stories on nifty.org, for example, is if I search on Google, which shows only unrelated results. If I search on DuckDuckGo, I have no problem reading what I want. So either the filters were set up by O2 and I’m one of the lucky few to slip the net, or Google themselves have created filters because theirs is the search engine used by most people, including kids. I know which of the above scenarios seems more likely. So no, it looks like there aren’t ISP level filters in the UK anymore.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If you are being filtered it is at the ISP DNS server level. Just switch you DNS provider to one of the easily remembered ones like, Cloudflare. Google Google Quad9

There are others, but those are easy to remember in case of blocking problems from the ISP.

Anonymous Coward says:

i wonder how much he got paid for doing this? the entertainment industries are not gonna be happy until they’ve got complete control of the Internet and they dont care who they enlist to help them and that’s courts, security services, politicians and governments, all lumped together simply because those industries did the same as they did over mp3 and home video recording/playing, ie, far too little, far too late to cater for customers needs!!

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

How long

Where’s the EFF when you need them. This Needs to be challenged.

Because the first amendment defaults to the biblical Sodom premise. Just one.
Just one non infringing file and the site can’/shouldn’t be blocked in whole.

Sites like TPB and BTM are massive repositories of free, legal, FOSS, FTD, CF, and IDGAF, CC, etc; software, entertainment, and more.

Valuable resources far beyond the piracy aspect.

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