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PIPCU has now requested that domain registrars disable 317 piracy sites

By | Published on Monday 24 August 2015

City Of London Police

The City Of London Police’s IP Crime Unit – or PIPCU to its closest allies – has to date requested that domain name registrars suspend 317 pirate sites, according to Torrentfreak, which accessed the stat via a Freedom On Information request.

We knew PIPCU had written to a number of domain registrars explaining how one or another of their customers was running piracy operations using domains that the recipient registrar manages.

Obviously, as a policing unit rather than a court, PIPCU has no actual authority to order those registrars to disable the domains of the offending websites, though the letter sent usually pointed out that – by infringing copyright via their domain – said customers were in breach of the registrar’s own terms and conditions. The implication being that the registrar might like to do something about that.

And some registrars did just that, though some others ignored the letters, stressing that they would – and possibly could – only disable a domain in their control if ordered to do so by a court of law, where the operators of the offending website would, in theory at least, have an opportunity to defend themselves if they so wished. Canadian domain registrar easyDNS was particularly vocal on all this.

Interested to know how prolific PIPCU had been with this letter sending campaign ever since the specialist IP crime unit was established just under two years ago, Torrentfreak posted an FoI request. And the website reports that: “In total, PIPCU has sent out suspension requests for 317 domain names, up from 75 around the same time last year”.

In addition to targeting domain registrars, PIPCU also told Torrentfreak that it had sent warning letters directly to the operators of 377 piracy websites, all of which had been referred to the policing unit by entertainment industry trade groups.

What PIPCU wasn’t able to tell Torrentfreak is how successful these letter sending initiatives have been, in terms of how many websites have voluntarily shut down their copyright infringing operations, and how many registrars have disabled offending domains.

Given the police unit recently had a good brag about the success of its work to deter big brands from advertising on piracy sites, the fact it was less willing to share about the success of its letter sending initiatives may mean they haven’t been as effective, though not necessarily.