Homeland Security with help from ICANN has seized the domain of a torrent search site and posted a notice stating: “This domain name has been seized by ICE Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court under the authority of 18 U.S.C. 981 and 2323.”
18 USC covers civil forfeiture of property real and personal for various legal infringements. The section notice posted at the domains taken down for hosting torrents and a torrent search engine – Torrent-Finder.com goes on to state: “Willful copyright infringement is a federal crime that carries penalties for first time offenders of up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution (17 U.S.C 506, 18 U.S.C 2319). Intentionally and knowingly trafficking in counterfeit goods is a federal crime that carries penalties for first time offenders of up to ten years in federal prison, a $2,000,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution (18 U.S.C. 2320).”
ICE has been taking down sites under 18 USC throughout this year, but previously it has been those that have hosted torrents or been found selling knockoff merchandise – policing the web like officers who close down street vendors of bootleg DVDs and counterfeit handbags and watches.
The action against Torrent-Finder that only acts as a search engine of torrents – legal and otherwise – and is not hosting any torrents has online news blogs asking why other search engines like Google and Bing are not equally guilty
“So, when is the US Government going to seize the Google domain?” Inquisitr.com,the online news site, asks. “The fact is that Google can produce the same results that Torrent-Finder, or any torrent search engine out there,” the site noted.
“Most troubling of all, however, are statements made by the owner of Torrent-Finder.com. He told the bloggers at TorrentFreak that his site was seized “without any previous complaint or notice from any court… While I was contacting GoDaddy I noticed the DNS had changed. Godaddy had no idea what was going on and until now they do not understand the situation, and they say it was totally from ICANN,”” Mashable reported.
A court order issued in New York that took down similar sites stated it “authorized the seizure of seven websites, all of which are involved in the illegal distribution of copyrighted movies and television programs over the Internet.”
But Torrent-Finder does not distribute, it merely provides a search engine for finding torrents at various distribution sites and the same results are available at Google and Bing or basically any of the search engines.
Will Google and Bing remove all references to torrents from their search results? Or do the bigger engines get a pass as they provide all search results and the government sees they are not pointedly assisting torrent distributors? If Torrent-Finder fights the decision one wonders how this will impact laws if they get a ruling in their favor.