A judge has ruled 700 domain names to be seized and removed from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Bing, Yahoo and Google searches, on suspicion, not proof, of selling counterfeit goods. Whether the domain names are local or foreign, infringing or not, or even valid but caught-in-the-net business sites is immaterial. They are ordered seized and taken down without notice or recourse.
Of course, there is no law to force a registry to change ownership, nor a law to require the search engines to delist in this way, but the judge ordered it anyway. Says Law Professor Venkat Balasubramani on this topic yesterday:
Wow. I'm sympathetic to the "whack-a-mole" problem rights owners face, but this relief is just extraordinarily broad and is on shaky procedural grounds.
These days, even before SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, we have this and Operation in our Sites seizing huge numbers of domain names without notice, and without recourse, based on one-sided cases with no legal basis to execute these seizures.
Actually, there is a valid process for this. The DCMA takedown is a legal and fully doumented process. The alleged infringer is given a legal notice indicating the evidence found, when it was found, who found it, and a way to contact the issuer if there are any problems with the notice. It allows people mistakenly caught in the net to respond, and the takers down to correct any errors.
I am not saying the 700 sites were legitimate, but the process to take them down is most certainly not legitimate. What if the next site delisted without notice or recourse is my business site?
For more on this, see the Ars Technica article US judge orders hundreds of sites “de-indexed” from Google, Facebook.