US Copyright Czar: Expect More Domain Censorship

from the free-speech-ain't-free dept

The US "IP Czar," Victoria Espinel, said at a conference this week that Homeland Security's seizure of a bunch of domain names was apparently just the beginning of a larger plan to go after such folks. Espinel has been making the rounds over the past few months, working to get various companies to voluntarily start censoring websites in this manner, even without the COICA bill being in place. This isn't really a surprise. Espinel has stated in the past that her job is to focus on the enforcement side of copyright law, so it's no surprise she's supportive of such seizures.

What's scary, though, is the fact that she doesn't seem willing to recognize how these seizures appear to go way past "enforcing" copyright law, and move into blatant censorship. In her comments, she noted that "We are going after the piraters and counterfeiters," but she seems to ignore that caught in that net are perfectly legitimate search engines and (more seriously) blogs with plenty of non-infringing content. If that's not the definition of prior restraint and blatant government censorship, I don't know what is.

What's sad is that Espinel has appeared in the past as someone who actually recognized these issues -- and while she's under a lot of pressure from the entertainment industry lobbyists who apparently get to write her performance reports -- if these sorts of activities keep up, she's going to go down as the US's chief censor. What a shame.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2010 @ 3:23pm

    The registrars are going to *love* this

    If having a gTLD (.com, .net, .org, ...) puts your domain at a risk of seizure under badly-specified conditions (oh, that stock photo you bought was not authorized to be sold by the original photographer? Too bad it is not your fault, your domain is now gone!), people will start to avoid buying them and instead buy ccTLDs (country-code TLDs, for instance .de, .nl, .ch...).

    The registrars who sell gTLD domain names are really going to like taking a hit on their income.

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