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US court claims domain seizures don't violate free speech

updated 04:25 pm EDT, Fri August 5, 2011

Nothing stopping plaintiff from going outside US

In January, ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement), the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, seized several sports streaming sites using US-based .org and .com domains. Puerto 80, the owner of one of these sites, Rojadirecta, filed suit in the US District Court of Southern NY, claiming the seizure constituted a violation of First Amendment rights. Yesterday, presiding judge Paul Crotty ruled that free speech had not been violated and refused to order the government to return the domains.

Rojadirecta was a popular sports streaming and peer-to-peer website. It indexed and made available links to numerous sporting events world-wide. Although based in Spain, the domains the company used were issued out of the US. The domains of other sports-streaming websites including,,, and, were also seized, but none of these chose to seek recourse in the courts.

"Puerto 80's First Amendment argument fails," said Judge Crotty. "Rojadirecta has a large internet presence and can simply distribute information about the seizure and its new domain to its customers."

The judge went on to state that there was nothing to stop Puerto 80's customers from accessing the web-based information from non US-based domains, and that the company had not explained how it made money or how it might be losing revenues from the seizure.

The ruling comes despite the fact that Spanish courts, reviewing the case, ruled that copyright laws had not been violated.

Puerto 80 was supported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the Center for Democracy and Technology and Public Knowledge both of whom had filed briefs as friends-of-the-court. Many see domain seizures as a way of curbing free speech and in some cases being used to fulfill political agendas without giving a significant chance to fight back. [via TorrentFreak]

by MacNN Staff



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