A group backed by the MPAA and RIAA has called for more action to be taken by domain name registrars when it comes to stopping piracy sites.
Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee’s Internet subcommittee, the Coalition for Online Accountability (COA) says that domain name registrars are not following the own rules, and that the privacy of registrants should not be respected if there are copyright violation allegation against the site.
The membership of the COA is a virtual who's who of anti-piracy lobbying, including the previously mentioned RIAA and MPAA for the music and movie industries, as well as the Entertainment Software Association and the Software and Information Industry Association, copyright lobbyists for the gaming and software industries respectively. The group's main aim is to promote the "effective enforcement against online infringement of copyrights and trademarks."
And it appears the first target for the COA will be domain name registrars, which the group says is not doing enough to combat online piracy.
COA counsel Steve Metalitz's testimony calls on registrars to be more responsive to rights-holders, and to suspend domain names when requested. Metalitz says that registrars are signatories to the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA), and the 2013 revision of the agreement asks registrars to take on more responsibility in tackling the piracy problem - something that registrars have not been abiding by, according to Metalitz.
Metalitz provided an example relating to a Romanian music piracy website and how the RIAA's complaint was largely ignored.
"By August of last year, RIAA had notified the site of over 220,000 infringements of its members’ works (and had sent similar notices regarding 26,000 infringements to the site’s hosting providers). At that time, RIAA complained to the domain name registrar (a signatory of the 2013 RAA), which took no action, ostensibly because it does not host the site," Metalitz testified.
The COA also believes that domain privacy services, which protect the identify of registrants, should be forced to hand over user details when requested. Metalitz asked for "ground rules for when the contact points of a proxy registrant will be revealed to a complainant in order to help address a copyright or trademark infringement."
Arguing against these proposals, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says that the organisation responisble for managing domain names worlwide, ICANN, and individual registrars should not be made responsible for anti-piracy policing. The EFF says that should these proposals be adopted, it would in effect by bringing back some of the worst elements of the controversial SOPA bill, which was overwhelmingly rejected by the public when it was to be voted on in 2011.
"As advocates for free speech, privacy, and liberty on the global Internet, we ask the Committee to resist calls to impose new copyright and trademark enforcement responsibilities on ICANN. In particular, the Committee should reject proposals to have ICANN require the suspension of Internet domain names based on accusations of copyright or trademark infringement by a website," the EFF writes in a letter to the committee.
"This is effectively the same proposal that formed the centerpiece of the Stop Online Piracy Act of 2011 (SOPA), which this Committee set aside after millions of Americans voiced their opposition. Using the global Domain Name System to enforce copyright law remains as problematic in 2015 as it was in 2011," says the EFF.