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easyDNS to test whether suspending domains of file-sharing sites breaches ICANN rules

By | Published on Monday 4 November 2013


Canadian domain registrar easyDNS is testing whether other domain companies that complied with a request from the City Of London Police’s IP Crime Unit last month may have breached the rules of global domain overseer ICANN.

As previously reported, the recently established IP Crime Unit last month wrote to the companies that administrate the domains of various file-sharing websites, pointing out that said sites infringe copyright and possibly violate other laws, and that in doing so were likely also contravening the domain firms’ own terms and conditions. Therefore, the police letter concluded, the registrars might want to think about suspending the offending sites’ domains.

And some duly did. Though for its part easyDNS went public about the letter, stating that it had no intention of suspending the domains of its clients on the say so of correspondence from the City Of London Police, because under law it is only obliged to respond in this way if served a court order. And the IP Crime Unit’s note made no pretence that it had the authority of any court of law.

Not only that, easyDNS said, but if a registrar suspended a domain because of a terms and conditions breach, and then prevented the owner of the domain from moving it to another registrar instead, that would violate the rules of ICANN. And now that argument could be tested, because three sites whose domains were suspended by a firm called PDR are trying to move to easyDNS, but PDR won’t currently release the domains. So easyDNS plans to take the matter to ICANN for mediation.

In a new blog post, easyDNS CEO Mark Jeftovic says that PDR has no duty to follow the instructions of the City Of London Police, but does have a duty to follow ICANN policies. Noting that the UK police were unlikely to turn around and say “we have no actual power here, transfer the domains”, Jeftovic writes: “They should not be waiting for the London Police to articulate this, what they should be doing is reading up on the ICANN Inter-Registrar Transfers Policy, since they are actually bound by their Registrar Accreditation Agreement to abide by it”.

It remains to be seen how this one turns out. Though most of the file-sharing sites that did lose their domains as a result of the IP Crime Unit’s letter have relaunched using alternative URLs, which will be easily accessible via Google.