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Torrent site could go legal over suspended domain

By | Published on Friday 11 October 2013


One of the torrent sites that lost its dotcom domain this week after the City Of London Police’s new IP Crime Unit sent a stern letter to its domain registrar says it is considering legal action to get it back.

As previously reported, the recently launched IP Crime Unit has sent letters to a number of domain registrars which manage the domain listings of file-sharing services. The letter, made public by one of those domain firms, easyDNS, says that the targeted file-sharing sites are likely infringing copyright and breaching the UK Serious Crime Act, and are breaking said registrar’s own terms and conditions in doing so. The domain companies are encouraged to repoint the domains used by these sites to a police copyright notice instead.

easyDNS has refused to do so, arguing that only a court of law should be allowed to force a domain name to be blocked in this way. However, a number of other registrars have done as the police letter asked, depriving a number of file-sharing services of their domains (though most have quickly set up alternative domains through which their sites can be accessed). One of the affected sites is ExtraTorrent, whose domain was handled by a company called PDR Ltd.

A rep for the torrent service has told Torrentfreak: “After contacting PDR [when our dotcom domain was suspended] they kept giving us funny replies, but finally gave us a copy of the PDF file sent by the London Police. This was even more funny than the rest of the communications we had with PDR Ltd, because it turned out that the suspension was solely and willfully under the discretion of the registrar and with no legal basis”.

The rep went on: “PDR Ltd didn’t even think of spending more time on understanding the content of the email sent by London Police. Basically they just got scared and did what was asked of them even with no legal implications indicated by the sender. The police were dictating to registrars what to do and how to do it their way”.

It seems likely that if any of targeted torrent sites were taken to the UK courts, the services would be deemed liable for authorising infringement, and an injunction forcing the domain suspension would probably follow. But, as easyDNS says, the City Of London Police themselves don’t have that power, hence the carefully worded letter.

ExtraTorrent says it is investigating legal action against PDR Ltd, which would force the domain registrar to demonstrate that the torrent site was indded in breach of its terms and conditions.