Following pressure from the entertainment industry the domain registry of Sint Maarten appears to have seized The Pirate Bay’s .SX domain name. The torrent site itself hasn’t been taken down and has quickly relocated to a new address on Ascension Island’s .AC ccTLD. The Pirate Bay team informs TorrentFreak that this UK-controlled domain isn’t their final destination and they will sail to a safer haven in the near future.
A few hours ago Pirate Bay users were shocked to discover that their favorite torrent site was no longer loading.
Without warning the nameservers were removed from thepiratebay.sx domain, making it impossible to load the site in places where DNS entries were not cached.
TorrentFreak reached out to The Pirate Bay team who informed us that the .SX registry appears to have seized the domain overnight.
The Pirate Bay website itself remains online, however, as the site’s operators quickly relocated to thepiratebay.ac, which uses Ascension Island’s ccTLD.
It’s seems possible that the domain seizure is connected to pressure applied by Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, which represents a variety of copyright holders.
Last month BREIN sent a letter to the contact email address for The Pirate Bay’s domain, which is registered to site co-founder Fredrik Neij. In their letter BREIN pointed out that the site infringes on the rights of copyright holders worldwide.
The group added that the .SX domain is controlled by the Dutch part of Sint Maarten, suggesting that BREIN has jurisdiction over it.
“We expressly point out that by registering domain names and using these and/or allowing these to be used by The Pirate Bay, you infringe on the rights of Rights Owners. Therefore, the Rights Owners hold you liable for the damages that they have suffered and will suffer from your actions,” the letter read.
Citing previous court orders the anti-piracy group demanded that Neij cease and desist from operating the site and using thepiratebay.sx or any other domain to make the Pirate Bay website available.
The letter set an ultimatum of 22 November and threatened a 25,000 euro per day fine if the site remained online. At the moment it is unclear whether a new court order has been issued and to what extent BREIN is involved in the domain seizure.
TorrentFreak reached out to both the .SX registry and BREIN and we will update this article when we receive responses.
The Pirate Bay, meanwhile, continues to be accessible through the new .AC domain, although only briefly since the ccTLD is UK controlled.
“The AC domain is directly connected to the UK, so it’s just a quick stop there,” a Pirate Bay insider told us. After solving some technical issues the infamous torrent site plans to move to the Peruvian .PE ccTLD.
ThePirateBay.pe will be the fifth domain name for The Pirate Bay in 2013.
Fearing a domain seizure by the Swedish authorities The Pirate Bay quickly switched to a Greenland-based domain in April, later hopping to Iceland, and eventually landing .SX domains as other problems became apparent.
The Pirate Bay hopes for a longer stay at the PE domain, but the site’s operators still have a few dozen domain names backed up if required.
Update: As expected, BREIN now takes credit for the decision of the SX registry to seize Pirate Bay’s domain name.
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Swedish authorities have filed a motion at the District Court of Stockholm on behalf of the entertainment industries, demanding the seizure of two Pirate Bay domain names. In addition to the Swedish-based .se domain the motion also includes the new Icelandic .is TLD. In a rapid response, The Pirate Bay has just switched to a fresh domain, ThePirateBay.sx, registered in the northeastern Caribbean island of Sint Maarten.
Swedish prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad has filed a motion at the District Court of Stockholm, requesting for the seizure of thepiratebay.se, piratebay.se and the new thepiratebay.is domains.
The move comes just a few days after the infamous BitTorrent site switched to the Iceland-based domain, following suspicions that the Swedish authorities would go after the .se domains.
“There is widespread copyright infringement linked to these sites and these domains are used to assist in connection with crime,” Ingblad writes in today’s complaint.
The complaint was filed on behalf of several major movie, music and publishing companies. The Swedish domain registry and the domain registrants, including Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij, are listed as defendants in the case.
The prosecutor did not explain why the authorities are taking action now. The Pirate Bay has been operating from the .se domain name for over a year and could have easily been targeted before.
The Internet Infrastructure Foundation, responsible for operating the .se TLD, says it will consider its options when a court order comes in. The foundation previously noted that domain names are not the source of the problem as they are easily traded in for new ones.
“We believe the problem in this type of situation is not the domain, but rather its contents. The domain name itself is not an accomplice in act of copyright infringement and if thepiratebay.se, for example, were to be shut down, the site would almost certainly reopen under another top-level domain.”
Last week Iceland’s domain registry ISNIC told TorrentFreak that it would not proactively suspend a domain, and that it would only take action when an Icelandic Court asks them to.
“Such an action would require a formal order from an Icelandic court. ISNIC is not responsible for a registrant’s usage of their domains,” ISNIC’s Marius Olafsson told TorrentFreak.
However, in today’s complaint the Swedish prosecutor suggests that the court has jurisdiction over the .is domain because it is registered to Fredrik Neij, who has Swedish nationality.
But in a lightning quick response The Pirate Bay has already switched to a new domain, ThePirateBay.sx. The .sx ccTLD is for Sint Maarten, a tiny island in the northeast Caribbean located 190 miles east of Puerto Rico.
Control of the island, which has just 78,000 residents, is split between France and the Netherlands. Around 41,000 live on the Dutch side and 37,000 on the French. TorrentFreak has contacted the local domain registrar for comment.
Earlier today the news broke that a new criminal investigation into The Pirate Bay is ongoing, with co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm being questioned in prison last week. Whether today’s domain seizure motion is related to this case is unknown.
Even if the court grants the prosecutor’s request it remains to be seen how effective any seizures will be. Time and again the BitTorrent site has responded by relocating to new domains.
Update: After publication ISNIC’s Marius Olafsson informed TorrentFreak that they do not intend to take away Pirate Bay’s domain based on a Swedish court order.
“When and if such an “order” is received by ISNIC we will refer that to our legal council and will of course respond – how remains to be seen. Remember that ISNIC is an Icelandic company operating under Icelandic laws,” Olafsson says.
“I am not a lawyer, but would think that in general Swedish courts do not have jurisdiction over Icelandic companies operating in Iceland. The only thing a Swedish court can do in this case is to order the registrant (who is Swedish) to delete the domain. I fail to see how they can order ISNIC to do anything.”
“ISNIC will legally fight attempts to use the domain name registry system to police/censor the net. We believe that to be ineffective, wrong and dangerous to the stability of the DNS as a whole.”
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