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Web sites sue the US government over domain seizures

Claim they didn't infringe copyrights
Tue Jun 14 2011, 13:42

A NUMBER OF WEB SITES have launched legal challenges to seizures of their domain names by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), claiming what the government did was illegal.

Several web sites were taken offline by ICE in February, including the popular sports streaming web site Rojadirecta, on the grounds of alleged copyright infringement. Rojadirecta's parent company, Puerto80 has launched a lawsuit against the US government over the incident.

The company said that it did not violate copyright law and that it had requested the return of its domain names. It said that in late May the government told it that it would only return the domains if the web site agreed not to link to any US content. Puerto80 said that this was unacceptable, since it would prevent it from linking to legal material.

It filed a complaint in US District Court in New York, claiming that the government was violating the First Amendment, citing a number of previous cases where material was seized without justification.

In its complaint, Puerto80 claimed that it was inappropriate for the government to shut down a web site on the basis of probable cause to believe that some material that was linked, not hosted, on the web site might be infringing copyright, particularly when there was no advance notice given to the web site owner or users, which would have allowed them to contest the seizure.

The company further argued that linking to copyrighted material does not constitute copyright infringement, which was the basis for the seizure of the web site. It also said that the seizure did not meet the requirements of law, where it would be used as evidence or to prevent further criminal acts, which it claims do not apply to its web site.

Puerto80 has hired the intellectual property lawyers Mark A. Lemley, Ragesh K. Tangri, Johanna Calabria and Genevieve P. Rosloff from the Durie Tangri law firm.

Puerto80's legal team requested a ruling on its case by the end of June, but acknowledged that it could take up to 30 days for a decision to be handed down. It also requested that opposition papers from the government be filed by 23 June to prevent a delay in the ruling.

A number of other web sites that were seized by ICE have also launched legal challenges, including,, and, according to Techdirt. It's likely that further lawsuits will be filed as the question mark over the domain seizures' legality grows. µ


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