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RIAA urges court to keep Cloudflare order in place in relation to MP3Skull domains 

By | Published on Wednesday 9 August 2017


The Recording Industry Association Of America has urged a US court to keep an order in place telling internet services firm Cloudflare to block certain domains linked to possibly defunct piracy site MP3Skull, even though those domains are no longer active and/or are no longer using the Cloudflare platform.

As previously reported, last year the RIAA successfully sued MP3Skull, partly because the piracy set-up failed to defend itself against the copyright infringement lawsuit filed by the American record companies. The court awarded the record industry $22 million in damages and the rights to seize and block the copyright infringing service’s domains.

The chances of the labels ever seeing any of those damages seemed slim, but the domain blocking order was a useful tool for the RIAA in its ongoing bid to block access to unlicensed sources of music content. And it used that tool to seize or block various domains linked to MP3Skull. The piracy site initially responded by doing the domain hop thing.

As part of that activity, the RIAA demanded that Cloudflare – a provider of so called reverse proxy services, among other things – block certain domains that the labels said were [a] linked to MP3Skull and [b] navigating traffic through the Cloudflare system.

The tech firm countered that under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act it was wasn’t required to instigate such blockades. But when the RIAA took the matter to the court, the judge sided with the labels, saying the DMCA wasn’t relevant here.

More recently, Cloudflare went back to court asking that the order be vacated, because – it said – MP3Skull is no longer active and domains linked to it are no longer using Cloudflare’s services. The court order against it, therefore, is no longer necessary, it argued.

But in a new submission, the RIAA has urged the court to keep the order in place. It claims that domains linked to MP3Skull were actively using Cloudflare as recently as April, while adding that – either way – the order should remain in place because MP3Skull’s domains could pop back up – on the internet and on Cloudflare – at any point in the future.

Says the trade body: “Given [MP3Skull’s] established practice of moving from domain to domain and from service to service throughout this case in contempt of this court’s orders, [it] could easily have resumed – and may tomorrow resume – their use of Cloudflare’s services”.

The labels group then added that if – as Cloudflare says – there are currently no MP3Skull domains utilising its services, then why does it matter if the court order stands because that means the tech firm won’t actually have to do anything.

There are still file-sharing services using the MP3Skull name, which may or may not be linked to the people behind the original MP3Skull site, meaning the RIAA might be right to say that currently dormant domains could suddenly spring back into life in the future.

Though for the labels, the court’s ruling in this case also sets a wider more important precedent: ie that Cloudflare can be asked to remove or block domains on its platform where a copyright owner has successfully sued a site linked to those domains.