Tuesday, February 8, 2011

DHS Seizes Websites for Merely LINKING to Copyrighted Material

The Department of Homeland Security is now authorized to rewrite and enforce copyright infringement laws. In a stunning precedent, the recent round of domain seizures to shut down websites that allowed illegal streaming of the Super Bowl, also included a few other websites that were seized simply for linking to infringing content.

As with the last batch of seizures, it quickly becomes clear that Homeland Security was taking orders from private companies, and made absolutely no effort whatsoever to determine if the assertions made by those private parties (who might be helped by having Homeland Security shut down competitors and/or more innovative solutions) were accurate. For example, the affidavit, written by yet another recent addition to the Homeland Security force (though, unlike last time, when it was a kid fresh out of college, this time the guy, agent Daniel Brazier, was a police officer before this job came calling) seems to rely solely on information from various sports leagues (the NFL, NBA, NHL, WWE and UFC -- I'm really surprised that MLB isn't included, but that's probably only because it's the off-season), and appears to make no attempt to independently verify much of the information provided by those leagues. For example, without any evidence or proof, he asserts that the leagues "suffer significant negative impact from the unauthorized streaming of live television programming."