of that’s-not-how-it-all-works department
Almost exactly a decade ago, a few months after the US Congress rejected the SOPA copyright bill’s site blocking configuration, which would allow copyright holders to force ISPs to block access entirely to websites deemed to be dedicated to “piracy”, we wrote an article about how it wasn’t even clear that SOPA was necessary when the courts were already willing to issue such restraining orders. This was in an infringement case, where Louis Vuitton sought and obtained an order from a judge requiring domain registrars and ICANN to erase certain website domains from the Internet entirely.
Fast forward almost exactly a decade and TorrentFreak points us to a series of somewhat similar orders that require every ISP in the United States to entirely block access to three websites accused of infringing by a series of movie content providers. , television, sports and news in Israel. The three commands are all embedded below, although they’re all basically the same – but they order non-party ISPs to block access to three domains accused of displaying infringing streams: israel-tv.com, israel .tv and sdarot. .TV.
For all three websites, no defendants appeared in court (not too surprising, given that the cases were filed in the United States). Without a defendant appearing, the court ruled for the plaintiffs in a default judgment – which is quite typical. However, what is atypical is that the judge then fired the 1st Amendment and basically ordered a ton of non-parties to do things to stop allowing access to these websites. It first issues a permanent injunction for anyone operating or working with these websites, but then issues an order for ALL ISPs in the United States to block access to these websites.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that all ISPs (including without limitation those listed in the attached Schedule B) and any other ISPs providing services in the United States will block access to the Website to any domain address known today (including, but not limited to, those set forth in the attached Exhibit A) or for use in the future by Defendants (“Newly Detected Websites”) by any technological means available on ISP systems. Domain addresses and any newly detected websites should be funneled in such a way that users will not be able to log in and/or use the website, and will be diverted by ISP DNS servers to an operated and controlled landing page by the applicants (the “Landing Page”) which can be reached as follows:
Domain – zira-usa-11026.org
IP address: 188.8.131.52 (dedicated)
The landing page will basically include the following information:
On April 26, 2022, in United King Distributors, et al. v. Does 1-10, d/b/a Sdarot.tv (SDNY, Case No. 1:21-cv-11026 (KPF) (RWL)), the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued an order for block all access to this website/service due to copyright infringement
It’s unclear who created this particular landing page, but it doesn’t exist, and at least it doesn’t include the silly badges with eagles on it.
The blocking order shows a very long list of ISPs, spanning nine pages. For some obscure reason, the list not only shows the names of the ISPs, but also the estimated population covered, the number of states they cover, and their maximum speeds. As far as I can tell, the list seems to come from BroadbandNow’s “Internet Providers in the United States of America” list. This is the first page that appears if you Google “list of US ISPs” and it also shows the exact same data sets in the same order. The list doesn’t match exactly, however, so it appears to be a subset of the broader list – although the court order says it should be considered to apply to any US ISP.
And Judge Katherine Polk Failla doesn’t stop there. After ordering each ISP to block these websites, it also orders all third party service providers to stop doing business with these three websites. This includes an incredibly long list of possible service providers (including a list that is even After in depth than would have been required under SOPA – which, again, Congress rejected):
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that third parties providing services used in connection with defendants’ operations – including, without limitation, ISPs, web hosting providers, CDN service providers, DNS service providers , VPN Service Providers, Domain Name Buying Service, Domain Name Privacy Service, Back End Service Providers, Affiliate Program Providers, Web Designers, Senders , search-based online advertising services (such as paid inclusion, paid search results, sponsored search results, sponsored links and keyword advertising on the Internet), all banks, associations of savings and credit, merchant account providers, payment processors and providers, credit card associations or other financial institutions, including without limitation PayPal and any other service provider that has provided services or will in the future provide services to Defendants and/or the Infringing Website (including, without limitation, those set forth in the attached list and as Schedule C herein -attached) (eac h, a “Third Party Service Provider”) – having knowledge of this order by service, effective notice or otherwise be and are hereby permanently prohibited from providing services to the Website (through any of the domain names set forth in Schedule A hereto or to any newly detected website) or to any defendant in conjunction with any of the acts set forth in subparagraphs (A)(1) through (A) (6) above;
And, as if that weren’t enough, it also orders domain registrars to take down those domains as well and hand them over to the complainants:
- That all domain names associated with the infringing website, including without limitation those set forth in the attached Schedule A, as well as all newly detected websites, be transferred to the ownership and control of applicants; and
- That, pursuant to the inherent equitable powers of the Court and its power to enforce compliance with its statutory orders, and due to Defendants’ continued exploitation of their infringing activities, in the event Plaintiffs identify a website newly detected registered or operated by a Defendant and used in conjunction with the streaming of any Complainants’ Works, including such websites using domain names containing any of the Complainants’ service marks or similar marks which may confusingly, Complainants shall have continued authority to serve this Order on domain name registries and/or individual registrars holding and/or listing one or more of such domain names associated with newly detected websites; and
- That the domain name registries and/or individual registrars holding and/or listing one or more of the domain names associated with the newly detected websites, within seven (7) days of being served with a copy of this order, will temporarily deactivate any domain names associated with the newly detected Websites, render them inactive and channel them in such a way that users will not be able to log in and/or use the Website, and will be redirected to the Landing Page (as defined in Paragraph B, above); and
- That after thirty (30) business days of service of this Order, individual registries and/or registrars will provide Complainants with full contact information for Newly Detected Websites; will transfer all domain names associated with the newly detected websites to the ownership and control of the plaintiffs, through the registrar chosen by the plaintiffs, unless the defendant has filed with the court and served on the attorney Plaintiffs request that such Newly Detected Websites be exempted from this order or unless Plaintiffs request that such domain names associated with NewlyDetected Websites be released rather than transferred;
Again, this is way beyond what even SOPA would have allowed. But Congress didn’t – and for good reason. This ruling has very significant issues with the 1st Amendment. Ordering the complete dismantling of a website like this is like shutting down a magazine – ordering the owner to evict the publisher, the printing presses to be destroyed, the postal service to refuse to send copies of the magazine, local waste management company refuses to pick up rubbish etc. etc A command like this obviously have huge problems with the 1st amendment as an attack on speech, even if you recognize that some of the content was infringing.
Of course, given that the websites chose not to appear in US court, it seems unlikely that they will challenge the order. Some ISPs may object, not because they want to support piracy, but because of the extraordinarily problematic general precedent of allowing a judge to order such an extreme internet killing order. Allowing these kinds of commands to survive creates huge instability for the internet and hopefully some ISPs will push back.
Filed Under: blocking orders, cdn, copyright, dns, israel, new york, registrars, site blocking, sopa, website blocking
Companies: dbs satellite services, hot communication, screen il, united king film distribution