Court Issues Highly Questionable Restraining Order Over Anyone Even Remotely Related To Streaming Mayweather/Pacquiao Fight
from the that's-not-right... dept
Thus, it shouldn't be too surprising that the judge, in fact, granted the request for a temporary restraining order on the two sites in question, boxinghd.net and sportship.org. Frankly, I have no idea if either one of the sites carried through on their promise to stream the fight this weekend, though I imagine it would be fairly dumb of them to have actually done so. From a cursory check, as I type this, it appears both sites are completely offline, so perhaps they both just shut down rather than deal with the threats from HBO and Showtime (or, perhaps, just moved to alternate domains).
However, as EFF points out, the court's temporary restraining order issued in the case goes way, way beyond just restricting those two sites, and raises some really serious concerns. Specifically, the restraining order didn't just restrict those two sites from showing the streams of the boxing match, but basically anyone who is sent the order:
Each and every one of the Defendants and their agents, servants, employees, officers, attorneys, successors, licensees, partners, and assigns and all those acting in active concert or participation with any of them, including any and all service providers who receive notice of this Order, are temporarily restrained and enjoined...As the EFF points out, this is de facto SOPA -- allowing copyright holders to simply point at a site they don't like, claim they're "bad" and basically order them off of the internet by merely sending a copy of the restraining order:
As the article above points out, it may not seem all that sympathetic considering these kinds of sites, but take it a step further. As we already discussed, whether or not these sites actually streamed any parts of the fight, the fight was widely streamed -- but via Twitter's Periscope service. And, under the terms of this order, if HBO or Showtime had sent this order to Twitter, it could be found to have violated a court order despite not even remotely being a party to the case!
You may not feel much sympathy for the websites in question. But this kind of site-blocking, without real legal process, is essentially one of the worst parts of the ill-conceived, long-dead Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) being brought in through the courtroom back door. HBO got an order to block content against those who act as intermediaries, even though they have nothing to do with the alleged illegality of the sites, are simply providing normal business services, and almost surely had no notice that they were about to be enjoined.
This is not the way our legal system is meant to work, and the good news is that it actually doesn’t. Federal Rules only allow courts to issue injunctions against those who truly are in “active concert or participation” with bad actors. We doubt that those who offer hosting services and video delivery, without more, can properly be considered in “active concert or participation” with the unauthorized streamers.
I don't care what you think about those who might have streamed the fight in an unauthorized way, you have to admit that there are clear due process concerns when a court pushes such a broad order, that ties the hands of those who might not even have been aware of the court case at all, let alone that it was legally restricting their ability to operate (in a way that might also be technically impossible). Yes, this may have been convenient for HBO and Showtime, but it's difficult to see how that temporary restraining order is even remotely constitutional (or sensible).