Does Congress Even Realize That The Courts Appear To Think That SOPA Is Already In Force?
from the does-that-change-the-debate dept
The link above highlights yet another such case, this time involving Philip Morris. The pattern in all three cases is quite similar. Company claims website is offering infringing works and sues. Court -- without hearing from the site owners (and usually not making any effort to see if the sites are all owned by the same owner) -- issues massive injunctions against third party service providers to take down or otherwise block those sites. As Venkat summarizes, the Philip Morris restraining order includes:
- Defendants are enjoined from using any Philip Morris marks, in websites, domain name extensions, links to other websites, search engine databases.
- The domain name registrars are directed to transfer the domain name certificates to plaintiff (for deposit with the court).
- The registrars are directed to transfer the domain names to GoDaddy, who will "hold the registrations for the . . . domain names in trust . . . during the pendency of [the] action."
- GoDaddy shall also update the DNS data so it points to a copy of the complaint, summons, and court documents.
- Finally, Western Union is directed to "divert" transfers made by US consumers to three named individuals
At the same link, Eric Goldman notes that the sudden appearance of three of these cases suggests that there are probably many more in the system. And he points out that this information certainly seems like it should be relevant to those currently debating these bills in Congress. Do they even realize that the remedies they're describing are already being used by courts?
Separately, he notes the ridiculousness of such extreme punishment when only one side is heard:
From my perspective, the three cases demonstrate the problems with ex parte judicial oversight. Only hearing one side of the story isn't enough to trigger the kind of draconian remedies the courts are granting. In particular, in this case, interdicting money being sent via Western Union is quite troubling. Basically, the court says that money being sent by customers who may have done nothing wrong goes into a holding tank--the customers don't get their money back now (and maybe never?) even if the transaction didn't consummate. It seems like rejecting the money transfers, rather than interdicting the money, would have a lot fairer to the buyers caught in the middle. But they aren't in court to defend their interests, and no one else is speaking up on their behalf, so the rightsowner can make a pure cash grab from potentially innocent buyers. That kind of result wouldn't happen with real due process.He wonders if there's a way to fix these kinds of abuses of process. In fact, I would suggest that the House Judiciary Committee (and the Senate) would be much better served dealing with the problem of such one-sided extreme court rulings, rather than encouraging more of that with SOPA and PIPA.