Another Registrar To Avoid: Internet BS Pulls Down Website Based On Confused Understanding Of The Law
from the bs-indeed dept
It seems that many in the anti-piracy world are moving up the chain a bit in their quixotic fight against anything they feel must be illegal (even if it’s not). From targeting the sites directly, to then focusing on hosting firms, they’re now going directly to registrars and ordering them to pull domain names or face liability. And while many of the better web hosts have learned to be familiar with the law here, many registrars are confused (thankfully, there are a few exceptions).
The latest example of a registrar folding the second someone freaked out is the aptly named Internet BS (or Internet.bs), which apparently suspended Bittorrent.pm’s domain, after a company called Rico Management claimed it was hosting infringing files. Of course, it’s not hosting any infringing files, because it’s an index site, rather than a hosting site. Rico complained, and Internet BS told the site’s administrators that it had to take action or face liability, and then it also complained that Bittorrent.pm didn’t have a contact page on its website. Of course, as Torrentfreak notes, there’s some irony in the fact that the complaining company, Rico Management, doesn’t even seem to have a website at all, let alone official contact information.
Either way, the idea that a registrar might be liable for infringement stretches the bounds of secondary liability to ridiculous lengths. Remember, the direct infringement is done by end users. At best, Bittorrent.pm might be found for secondary liability. You could argue that its hosting provider might have (already ridiculous) tertiary liability, meaning the registrar would be at the level of quaternary liability, which is taking the concept of third party liability to extreme and ridiculous levels. And, of course, that doesn’t even get into the fact that neither Bittorrent.pm nor Internet BS are in the US, and yet Internet BS seemed to be relying on an extremely strained reading of the US’s DMCA to make this argument.
If there’s actual infringement going on, the focus should be on holding those actually responsible liable, not twisting liability rules to make everyone else potentially liable. When you go down that path, you guarantee easy and widespread stifling of perfectly legitimate speech and innovation.