A sort of mass-exodus from US-controlled .COM domains is taking place, with dozens of sites registering alternate domains in nations where chances of persecution for association with copyright infringing activities is slim. This action has been sparked by the domain seizures in the United States, performed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that occurred just a week ago.
Site owners are choosing domains which are controlled by nations that either don’t have strict copyright laws, or even locations that do have the laws but lack the resources to enforce them.
Demonoid, the world’s largest BitTorrent tracker, chose to leave their .COM domain behind completely in favor of a .ME domain operated by the nation of Montenegro. Others are, ironically, leaving the US, supposedly the “Land of the Free,” for China, a country well-known for their rampant censorship.
Gary Fung, owner of BitTorrent engine Isohunt, is based in Canada, however his own run-ins with the American film industry has driven him to reserve a backup .HK domain in case the US government decides to seize his .COM.
“Countries like China censor for political reason, US with COICA will censor for copyright and commercial reason,” Fung told TorrentFreak. “It’ll be a chilling parallel put into serious question how the US should still be in charge of the much of the internet infrastructure like the root DNS, or how US can continue to claim as the model example for free-speaking democracy.”
Site owners like Fung are most concerned about the rationale behind the US domain seizures. Torrent-Finder.com, similar in function to Fung’s Isohunt, was targeted simply because they ended up on the MPAA and RIAA lists of “notorious markets” of copyright infringing material.
“For RIAA, MPAA’s slandering of us as rogue websites, it’s political PR and lobbying that has no basis in reality and ignorable,” Fung says. “Perhaps they should be educated in the many non-infringing uses of BitTorrent and P2P, or they risk listing every social media and sharing website as rogue.”
Unless something changes for the better, Fung will be keeping his .HK domain in case his site is one of the next to be targeted by US government raids. And he’ll be joined by many others in that regard.
Yes, site owners are leaving the United States in favor of China because they’ll have more freedom and less chance of persecution. How incredibly unbelievable and sad.