A lawyer I know passed along a letter from the Brazilian government to Sedo, a company that helps sell domains and also hosts parked domains (on which it puts some advertising), demanding that it take down a domain that it did not like. The text of the email is included below, but there are plenty of troubling things about the demand. First, the URL in question was an .eu domain, meaning that I can't see how the Brazilian government has any authority whatsoever. The URL did, however, suggest that it involved porn content related to Brazil (in that it has the word Brazil in it, as well as another word/phrase suggesting porn). Brazil could not like
the fact that people have registered domains about Brazilian pornography, but I don't see how that gives the country any authority whatsoever to demand the domain be taken offline completely. And, yet, according to the letter:
The registration and use of this domain name may lead users to believe that Brazil is a tourist attraction and pole of sexual activities, which interferes on the position and image of the country.
Moreover, websites with pornographic contents on the Internet that makes direct and/or indirectly mention to the characteristics related with the Brazilian identity, such as colors of the flag, culture pictures and images of cities, sets as a crime, punishable by the Brazilian Penal Code, Federal Law n. 9.279/1996:
The letter goes on to talk about child porn and how heinous it is -- but nothing in the domain, in any way, suggests child porn. It could pretty clearly be used for a legitimate adult porn website, but not child pornography. But the Brazilian government is having nothing of it, demanding that it be taken down:
Through this letter, the Ministry of Tourism of Brazil requests that you provide a written assurance within the next seven (7) days that you will:
1. Immediately discontinue any and all use of the domain(s)
2. Immediately and permanently refrain from any use of the term that associates Brazil to the pornography on the Internet;
3. Remove any and all pornographic content or dissociate it with the Brazilian Identity or Brazil.
This seems like a pretty big overreach by the Brazilian government on an issue that it has absolutely no jurisdiction over. Sedo did take down the site, but upon being contacted agreed to put it back up. I spoke to Jeremiah Johnston at Sedo who explained the company's policy on these issues -- noting that dealing with multiple geographies makes this quite a challenge, because they have to judge both legal and business issues in determining how to respond, and the company strives to be as transparent as possible. In the end, it uses a kind of notice-and-takedown system, as it did here, where it agrees to take down the domain, but alerts the domain holders and reviews the situation if people complain (as happened here). The Brazilian request was apparently a rather large request hitting on a bunch of different domain names, many of which were not .br domains, but some of which implied activity that was illegal -- and so Sedo had no problem taking those down. The issue here was that this domain got swept up in that effort. I still tend to think that the general request from Brazil was a pretty broad overreach itself, and worry about going after domain names simply for being domain names. The content on those sites may be a different issue, but in this case we were talking about domains for sale and/or parked domains, so it's not clear how much of a complaint Brazil really had.