US Court: Cops Can Constitutionally Seize Your Web Domain

Part of ICE's super domain snatching spree is a site called Rojadirecta.com, which streamed sports programming. The owners cried foul: there was legal content on the site, and shuttering the whole thing suppressed free speech. A US judge: nope.

United States District Court Judge Paul Crotty isn't buying Rojadirecta's argument, and says the 1st Amendment stands unscathed by knocking out American domains:

Puerto 80 alleges that, in seizing the domain names, the Government has suppressed the content in the ‘forums' on its websites, which may be accessed by clicking a link in the upper left of the home page. The main purpose of the Rojadirecta websites, however, is to catalog links to the copyrighted athletic events - any argument to the contrary is clearly disingenuous.

Integral to Judge Crotty's lambast was the existence of Rojadirecta's international domains—being a Spanish company—which are untouched. Rojadirecta says most American users will have no idea these domains exist, to which Crotty countered, tough shit:

Rojadirecta argues that, because ‘there is no way to communicate the availability of these alternative sites on the .org or .com domains . . . the vast majority of users will simply stop visiting the sites altogether.' This argument is unfounded — Rojadirecta has a large internet presence and can simply distribute information about the seizure and its new domain names to its customers.

Well, they did have a large internet presence, before it was banhammered by the federal government. "Perhaps the court thinks Puerto 80 should buy some google ads?," asks the EFF wryly, which rejects the court's ruling as "flatly wrong."

On the one hand, Rojadirecta was in all likelihood streaming copyrighted material without a license. Which is against the law. But this apparent expansion of ICE's power to shut down websites with little oversight or consequence is more troubling than any copyright violation. They don't exactly have the best track record, remember? [EFF via TorrentFreak]