Homeland Security Finally Files For Civil Forfeiture Of Domains Seized Back In June
from the taking-their-sweet-time dept
There's nothing particularly surprising or enlightening in the forfeiture proceeding document, other than acting as official notification if anyone wishes to claim a legal interest in the "property" in question. They would need to contest the forfeiture within 60 days of December 17th. This covers the domain names TVshack.net, Movies-Link.tv, ZML.com, Now-movies.com, ThePirateCity.org, PlanetMoviez.com, Filespump.com. As far as I know, there has been little indication that any of the original domain holders for those domains plan to contest the forfeiture process. Many have already moved on to other domains anyway.
There's nothing all that enlightening in the filing. It's pretty similar to the affidavit we saw that was used to seize the more recent domain names, with a few similar technical errors, but nothing necessarily as egregious as the errors in the more recent case. Basically, an ICE agent downloaded or streamed a few movies on some sites the MPAA pointed them to. The MPAA then said "those movies are not legally available online," and, voila, now ICE says it should get to own the domain name. It's basically ICE admitting that it's working for Hollywood now -- which explains why it announced those original seizures at Disney's headquarters (which still seems like a huge conflict of interest that no one has yet to explain). Oddly, it does not appear that anyone at ICE sought a third party, non-biased analysis of the legality of what was going on. They simply relied on the MPAA entirely.
All that said, I have to admit that I'm still at a loss as to how this is really fits under Homeland Security's mandate. Defenders of this point out that ICE has long had intellectual property issues under its purview, but those issues were supposed to be focused on preventing counterfeit products from entering the country. To extend that to internet websites seems like a huge stretch. Either way, it seems like Homeland Security must have more important things to work on.