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US DOJ Drops Charges Against Two Seized Websites 152

Posted by samzenpus
from the forget-about-it dept.
angry tapir writes "The U.S. Department of Justice has dropped its case against two Spanish websites that stream sports events nearly 17 months after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized the sites and shut them down for alleged copyright violations. In a one-page brief to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the district said his office had dropped the case against Rojadirecta.com and Rojadirecta.org. ICE seized the two sites on Jan. 31, 2011, and the DOJ asked the court to order that Puerto 80 Projects, the owner of the sites, forfeit the sites to the U.S. government."
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US DOJ Drops Charges Against Two Seized Websites

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2012 @07:09AM (#41176929)

    What about the lost money? Time to sue.

    • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @07:26AM (#41177009) Journal

      What about the lost money? Time to sue.

      And for damaged reputation and lost customers, due to those went to one of the seized sites, freaked out, then never visited again. Definitely damage was done to Puerto80 Projects (their owner), but can the the DOJ escape liability by claiming the seizure was not unlawful?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2012 @07:31AM (#41177033)

        Better sue them for thousands of dollars for each potential lost customer! I estimate that they owe over 100 trillion dollars.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2012 @08:20AM (#41177423)

          Better sue them for thousands of dollars for each potential lost customer! I estimate that they owe over 100 trillion dollars.

          100 trillion dollars isn't exactly a lot of money these days, dr. evil.

          • by jesseck (942036)

            100 trillion dollars isn't exactly a lot of money these days, dr. evil.

            The *IAAs haven't asked for that much (yet)...

          • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

            by capnkr (1153623)

            100 trillion dollars isn't exactly a lot of money these days, dr. evil.

            Thanks to our recent Government for the fact that numbers previously almost incomprehensible are now simply part of our daily cultural consciousness...

            From the May 19, 2012 - (CBS News) [cbsnews.com] (emphasis mine):

            The National Debt has now increased more during President Obama's three years and two months in office than it did during 8 years of the George W. Bush presidency.The Debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency. It has now gone up $4.939 trillion since President Obama took office.

            The latest posting from the Bureau of Public Debt at the Treasury Department shows the National Debt now stands at $15.566 trillion. It was $10.626 trillion on President Bush's last day in office, which coincided with President Obama's first day.

            Of course, Obama blames it on Bush {roll_eyes}, but that's a little disingenuous, given that at his rate until now he will have eclipsed the Bush spending by well over a factor of 2.5 by the time he leaves office if, Deity forbid, he gets reelected.

            Not much Hope, and less Change, is what I've seen out of him

            • by f3rret (1776822)

              Sure is election time soon over in the US, huh?

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Cyberax (705495)
              Yes, blaming Bush is exactly right in this case. Obama's deficits are the direct cause of the bubble collapse: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/05/15/484767/obama-budget-chart/?mobile=nc [thinkprogress.org]

              He has failed to cleanup Bush's toxic mess of economy, sure. But large deficits are not his fault.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by capnkr (1153623)

                Har. Nice try - but check out who wrote that, it's no surprise they're spouting the praise of and defense for Obama.

                Author - Michael Linden of the "Center for American Progress Action Fund". Who are they? Wikipedia says [wikipedia.org]:

                The Center for American Progress is a progressive public policy research and advocacy organization. Its website states that the organization is "dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action." It has its headquarters in Washington D.C. Its President and Chief Executive Officer is Neera Tanden, who worked for the Obama and Clinton administrations and for Hillary Clinton’s campaigns. Its first President and Chief Executive Officer was John Podesta, who served as chief of staff to then U.S. President Bill Clinton. Podesta remains with the organization as Chairman of the Board. Located in Washington, D.C., the Center for American Progress has a campus outreach group, Campus Progress, and a sister advocacy organization, the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Citing Podesta's influence in the formation of the Obama Administration, a November 2008 article in Time stated that "not since the Heritage Foundation helped guide Ronald Reagan's transition in 1981 has a single outside group held so much sway."

                Wow - could they even fit any more Democrats in there? It'd be tough...

                No surprise it is funded by none other than George Souros [discoverthenetworks.org]. If you'll take the time to check out the origins and organizational makeup of that "non-partisan" (Hah!) CAP, you'll see that it is a literal Who's Who of Democra

                • by Cyberax (705495)
                  So, you can't argue with facts and have to attack the authors? Nice. A typical repub.
                • by webheaded (997188)
                  You wrote so much and yet not a word of it dealt with any of the facts in the article. Who gives a shit who the writer is? We're dealing with facts here...not opinions...unless you have something that proves those numbers wrong?

                  I mean I'm not exactly Obama's number one fan, but your post has completely avoided addressing anything in the article itself.
            • by AK Marc (707885)

              Of course, Obama blames it on Bush {roll_eyes}, but that's a little disingenuous, given that at his rate until now he will have eclipsed the Bush spending by well over a factor of 2.5 by the time he leaves office if, Deity forbid, he gets reelected.

              Disingenuous is blaming Obama's first FY on him, when it was mainly a budget set by Bush he was enforcing. But that isn't a defense of Obama, just an attack on the attackers (And no, the enemy of my enemy is not my friend, he's just a different enemy).

        • by rjr162 (69736)

          No worries, China will lend it to them...

    • by jythie (914043) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @07:41AM (#41177109)
      Sadly, while the US can seize foreign assets, often courts rule that foreign companies do not have standing to sue. The standards for what constitutes having a local presence seem to vary according to which side the government is on....
      • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @08:45AM (#41177667) Journal

        courts rule that foreign companies do not have standing to sue

        Standing seems to get in the way of justice quite often. We need to strongly consider removing these loopholes in our justice system that allow the government to commit crimes with impunity.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fustakrakich (1673220)

          Best of luck getting any real opposition into Congress that will do it. Nothing's gonna change while the voters have their heads up their ass and keep reelecting these buttheads

      • by f3rret (1776822) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @10:34AM (#41178931)

        Isn't the .com and .org TLDs American? They only seized the domains and not necessarily the server hardware, as I understand it. Besides if the sites were running off American TLDs and were hosted in the US then it's no wonder that a US agency could seize them.

        • by Kalriath (849904)

          No, they're generic TLDs. The US government seizes them by going directly to the registry (not the registrar!) and forcing Verisign to fudge the DNS in the com. zone directly. It's a hideous violation of procedure, and breach of trust, and could be performed just as easily by forcing ICANN to fudge DNS in the . zone just as easily to seize domains in ccTLDs. No-one is safe from domain seizures by ICE. Not even an ru.

      • by fliptout (9217) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @11:22AM (#41179477) Homepage

        IANAL, but I think the proper course of action in this case is to sue the US government in their home country. If successful, they could have US assets there frozen and seized.

    • by Inda (580031) <slash.20.inda@spamgourmet.com> on Thursday August 30, 2012 @08:53AM (#41177755) Journal
      What lost money?

      I used Rojadirecta before I found a better site. It was only when my 'better' site didn't stream a game I was after that I looked back to Rojadirecta.org and saw it was down.

      Rojadirecta.se came to the rescue. I see there is a Rojadirecta.me too. When will these ban-hammer organisations learn? How long have we seen the same processes repeated over and over?

      I don't give a shit about Hollywood or Poptastic music. I do give a shit about my sports.

      If only they'd let me buy the stream on a Saturday afternoon. I only want to watch Tottenham Hotspur play. I cannot afford to travel to the game, even if I could get a ticket - their ground is full most weeks. I can afford a few quid to stream the game.

      I pay for Sky Sports. I'm happy to pay for my sport. Let me give you more money, you fucking idiots.
    • When the government takes land to build a road they must pay the owner. Taking a website without a court order/criminal conviction is expropriation, not a legal punishment.
    • by Zcar (756484)

      Sovereign immunity. You can't sue the US government unless it says you can. I'm not sure if they could sue over this.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        The US government has no such protection in Portugal though, they could sue the United States in Portuguese courts and since Portugal is a member of EU the courts can then order the seizure of assets of the United States within EU.
        Problem solved, now lets just hope that Portuguese courts will award the same absolutely absurd damages that US courts does.
    • by Pseudonym (62607)

      Yeah, just look at all the money Dajaz1 got for being screwed around.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2012 @07:17AM (#41176959)

    It seems that this tactic has some interesting consequences. The DOJ can seize the website, take it offline and make it unavailable to users. Thus removing all revenue streams. In the mean time, they wait. After a significant amount of time passes they go and "unsieze" the websites which now have lost revenue and users.

    Seems to me like a use of the courts as a tool that they were not intended. What sort of remediation can the site owners take on the DOJ?

    • by FireFury03 (653718) <`slashdot' `at' `nexusuk.org'> on Thursday August 30, 2012 @07:26AM (#41177007) Homepage

      It seems that this tactic has some interesting consequences. The DOJ can seize the website, take it offline and make it unavailable to users. Thus removing all revenue streams. In the mean time, they wait. After a significant amount of time passes they go and "unsieze" the websites which now have lost revenue and users.

      Seems to me like a use of the courts as a tool that they were not intended. What sort of remediation can the site owners take on the DOJ?

      I've been saying this for a long time - if you're hosting something, doing it outside the US is a good plan. If you can host it somewhere that's US-hostile, even better (so long as the US doesn't bomb the datacentre).

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2012 @07:30AM (#41177029)

        Anyone with a .org, .net, .com, etc US controlled domain [slashdot.org] even if their servers are hosted elsewhere in the world won't escape a similar fate.

      • by Shavano (2541114)
        Doesn't seem to help much. If anything it looks to me like the US DOJ is more apt and just as able to seize foreign sites.
        • Only if you're stupid enough to register under an american TLD or with an american registrar.

      • Somewhere in a US-unfriendly place for sure. But likely that US-unfriendly place won't be the most free country in the world and may want to shut you down for whatever reason (if you're hosting in Iran and say something bad about Iran, for example). So, you need to host in the US too, because the US will ignore their legal requests for takedown. Get domains from a few different TLDs that can always lead to your site, and you're good.

        • Somewhere in a US-unfriendly place for sure. But likely that US-unfriendly place won't be the most free country in the world and may want to shut you down for whatever reason

          There are plenty of countries that aren't that friendly with the US that allow more freedom than the "Land of the Free", just involves careful choices.

          • "There are plenty of countries that aren't that friendly with the US that allow more freedom than the "Land of the Free", just involves careful choices."

            Most such countries are small and therefore more easily "influenced" than "unfriendly" but clearly less democratic countries like Russia and China. Kim Dotcom probaby thought he was beyond the long arm of the DOJ by holing up in Hobbitland. Apparently the US was able to exert enough influence to initiate local police action him. NZ still appears to be a goo

          • by Quila (201335) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @12:32PM (#41180227)

            Muslim countries think they are the freest in the world. You are completely free to live your life according to Sharia. They actually don't see punishing speech "insulting" to Islam as an infringement on freedom of speech. They don't see putting apostates to death as an infringement on their religous freedom. But copies of copyrighted works are freely available for sale everywhere, with no compensation to the rights holder.

            In the US you can say anything you want about any religion and can't be legally prosecuted (although the leftist "hate speech" trend is getting us there). You can flip between religions as you like, no punishment whatsoever. But put some movies up at a web site and the FBI may come down on you worse than if you'd murdered someone.

            And, of course, release US secrets to the world, and the US will want to prosecute while its enemies cheer freedom and openness. Release the secrets of those enemies, suddenly they're not so hot on freedom and openness.

        • by symbolset (646467) *
          Jurisdiction site redundancy. Censorship is damage. Route around it.
        • by Kalriath (849904)

          Iran would be a bad example. The US once knocked their entire ccTLD off the internet by going to ICANN, who is on US soil.

    • by Rich0 (548339) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @07:35AM (#41177051) Homepage

      Seems to me like a use of the courts as a tool that they were not intended. What sort of remediation can the site owners take on the DOJ?

      Intended by who? Somehow I suspect this was exactly what was intended by these kinds of seizure rules.

      Winning court cases is hard. So, the solution has been to turn the process of justice into its own form of punishment. If you don't like somebody you accuse them of a crime, and seize half their possessions as evidence. Then you hold onto them for years, or drag them through a long and very expensive process. By the time it is over the person has lost their job, family, home, and is in a mountain of debt. At that point, does it really matter what the verdict is?

      And seizure is often even worse - in many cases there may not even be an opportunity to mount a defense. The property is sezied, and the owner need not even be charged with a crime.

      • by jythie (914043) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @07:44AM (#41177121)
        Sadly, yep. The laws are functioning 'as intended'. Our legal system was never really designed to be fair or equal access, it has a lot of the 'individualism' mentality built into it, with justice going to those who have the money and power to utilize it. This is generally billed as 'freedom' since more of your fate is in your own hands.. or at minimal if your chances are not good you can blame the victim more.
      • by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @09:40AM (#41178249) Journal

        Winning court cases is hard. So, the solution has been to turn the process of justice into its own form of punishment.

        Wasn't this one of the grievencies of the original colonists in America? Arrest someone and take them to England for prosecution, in the process, keeping them under arrest for months/years.

    • by BigSlowTarget (325940) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @07:38AM (#41177069) Journal

      What remediation will happen? None. The government has sovereign immunity except under special cases. This would not qualify as you would have to prove they not only did not have a case but could never have reasonably thought they could ever have had a case. That isn't going to happen.

      • by jythie (914043)
        Why do I picture, if a case did move forward, they would claim national security interests so they did not have to reveal any of their documentation for the cases....
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      To make them whole, the site owners need their site, payment for lost revenue, and advertizing to bring back the lost users.

      If they got their site back due to a recent court ruling, then it may be hard to show that DoJ acted in bad faith when they first seized the site.

      Perhaps the system worked as it was supposed to, which says the system needs adjusting.
      Unfortunately, the content owners are busy 'adjusting' it in the opposite direction.

      I don't see how the site owners can be made whole

    • Why not? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jdev (227251) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @08:49AM (#41177695)
      The U.S. government makes an even more bold claim than that. They have argued with Megaupload that the government can continue to seize their servers even if the case is dismissed [arstechnica.com]. I'm halfway surprised that the government bothered to drop the charges against Rojadirecta since they feel they can keep cases like this in limbo indefinitely without any consequences.
    • by citizenr (871508)

      What sort of remediation can the site owners take on the DOJ?

      Hire a cheap Spanish speaking hitman to silence ICE agent that oversaw whole case (Daniel Brazier?).

    • It seems that this tactic has some interesting consequences. The DOJ can seize the website, take it offline and make it unavailable to users. Thus removing all revenue streams. In the mean time, they wait. After a significant amount of time passes they go and "unsieze" the websites which now have lost revenue and users.

      Seems to me like a use of the courts as a tool that they were not intended. What sort of remediation can the site owners take on the DOJ?

      It's worse than this actually... ICE doesn't take the site offline: it replaces it with an accusatory splash page, even though the site's hosts haven't been found guilty of anything yet.

      The splash page reads

      "This domain name has been ceized by ICE - Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court under the authority of 18 U.S.C. SS 981 and 2323.

      Willful copyright infringement is a federal crime that carries penalties for first time offenders of up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution (17 U.S.C S 506, 18 U.S.C. S 2319). Intentionally and knowingly trafficking in counterfeit goods is a federal crime that carries penalties for first time offenders of up to ten years in federal prison, a $2,000,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution (18 U.S.C. S 2320).

      While the announcement is very careful not to actually accuse anyone of anything, the implications are that the US government has seized the site due to copyright violations, and is logging your attempted connection, and is willing to put you in jail for ten years and demand 2 million dollars if it catch

  • Misleading headline. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Robert Zenz (1680268) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @07:21AM (#41176975) Homepage
    According to the WhoIs, the .com domain was registered by a company in Arizona (Domain Proxy Company). The .org domain still shows up at the DoJ. Not sure, but looks like these were within the legislation of the U.S., because registered there.
  • English not being my first language I read "forfeit the sites to the U.S. government" as U.S government want the domains to be dropped by their owners. Why would they comply when the charges have been dropped? O.o
    • by Anonymous Coward

      They asked at the time of the seizure that the domains be forfeited - not when they suddenly decide the sites were innocent.

      Moral of the story: Dear world - the USA is not open for business unless you bring your own lubricant.

    • by LordLucless (582312) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @07:39AM (#41177093)

      It doesn't require any action by the owners. The US government (well, DOJ) contacts the registrar, and demands that they point the domain somewhere else. They don't touch the physical hardware (unless they're seizing that too) - the site is still operational, but cannot be accessed by its domain.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Fun US legal system. You can walk away, but whats next? One day will they forfeit your home, car, boat, savings, passport, voting rights... legal standing to start business.
      What can you now lose as you are "dropped" into legal limbo?
      So its like your free but not in the way most of the world understands not been charged.
  • Or finally kick the US off the Internet. Seems to me it will do a lot better without them holding things back.

  • Lazy or corrupt? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shavano (2541114) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @07:52AM (#41177169)
    DOJ: We don't want to bother or can't prove they broke any laws but you should just give us everything they have now that we've wrecked their business.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I once owned a computer repair store. I got a call from the bank, my account had been frozen and all assets drained by the IRS. No notice, no call, nothing.
      The IRS claimed I owed taxes. I did not, I didn't even make close to enough to owe the amount they took. Three months later, it was found the IRS made a mistake. Did I get my money back? No. They refuse to refund me the money they STOLE, even after they admitted making a mistake. They offered a tax credit. Which did me no good as I was force

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The fact that you were unable to hire an attorney and get compensation tells me there's a lot more to your story you aren't telling us. As does the fact your assets were seized suddenly and without you having any prior notice.

        • The IRS was once known for pulling this kind of crap all the time, rather than being the generally nice to work with organization you see today.
        • by anyGould (1295481)

          The fact that you were unable to hire an attorney and get compensation tells me there's a lot more to your story you aren't telling us. As does the fact your assets were seized suddenly and without you having any prior notice.

          While the sudden seizure is a bit odd, I feel compelled to point out that it is hard to hire anybody when all your money is taken.

  • Hey Slashdotters, I wonder if we can get the Federal Government to protect us from terrorists? I was thinking we hire a lobby group together, start our own SuperPAC, stuff like that. I figure if we give "donate" enough money (more than the RIAA is giving Biden) maybe we can shift their law enforcement efforts to things like stopping is from getting killed. As opposed to stopping Spaniards streaming sports.
    • Sure. Got a few million dollars to spare?
    • by Hatta (162192)

      What terrorists? You're more likely to die at the hands of a police officer than to die by a terrorist attack.

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        You're also about 40 times more likely to be killed by a drunk driver. Terrorism is basically a non-existent threat.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It is THIS kind of behavior by the US government that is going to force the hand of the UN and convince all the members to want to take over control of the internet. Just because the US have a majority of the control doesn't mean we should be exploiting it to appease our own greedy corporate ends.

  • I'm torn on this. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @08:44AM (#41177661)
    Part of me wants to yell "Sue those fuckers for the lost time!"
    But i know the money is just going to come out of our pockets while the DOJ members sit happily sipping their overly expensive tea.
    Government officials have no consequences, and that really needs to end.
  • DNS = FAIL (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fustakrakich (1673220)

    This is one more reason to abandon DNS and make up something a bit more robust. The whole internet seems much more frail than it was supposedly designed to be. Whatever happened to all that 'redundancy' and 'routing around damage' thing? You drop anchor on a single cable and can knock entire countries offline. How convenient is that for our authoritarian friends we so eagerly reelect time after time?

    • Re:DNS = FAIL (Score:5, Informative)

      by cpghost (719344) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @12:15PM (#41180047) Homepage
      Yes, the hierarchical nature of DNS invites exactly this kind of abuse. However, to be fair: designers of the DNS never expected [cnet.com] this kind of lawfare. They thought about cities being nuked etc..., not about a rogue government controlling the top-level of the DNS hierarchy.

      As to countries going offline when a submarine cable is being cut, it's their problem: they were supposed to provide some levels of redundancy by connecting to multiple international backbones in the first place.

    • by fm6 (162816)

      Whatever happened to all that 'redundancy' and 'routing around damage' thing?

      It was never there. The idea that IP networks were invented to survive a nuclear attack is pretty much a myth.

      • Yeah, I know.. So then, what happened to the concept of neural networking (soon to be marketed with the buzzword 'mesh')? I guess extending that to the last mile is a bit of a fantasy (but it can be done with wifi or other wireless). Having only one synapse to connect with really sucks.

        • by fm6 (162816)

          Your ability to mash together unrelated ideas into one big pseudoargument is really quite impressive.

          • They are not unrelated. Neural networking would provide the robustness I'm talking about. Try to allow your thoughts to blend a little, lest you start thinking like a bureaucrat.

            • by fm6 (162816)

              Actually, most bureaucrats I've known share your weird approach to logic. It helps them dream up rules for frustrating people.

              • No, what they do is separate everything into little bitty packets until they all lose any connection with each other. Eventually they'll need a separate office with a full staff for each one. You don't wait in just one line anymore at the DMV, do you? If the bureaucrat specializes in anything, it's specialization. Thus losing the wider view. Their tunnel vision blinds them to alternative solutions to a problem. It's the old 'can't see the forest for the trees' routine.

                You know, before you mentioned 'pseudoa

  • I am not certain there will be much recourse for rojadirecta; ideally the outcome of this should be that the burden of proof to allow seizure be raised, unfortunately I doubt anyone of note cares as these sites were ran by 'damned foreigners'.

    The more I watch this side show the more I think imperialism lives on, except the borders are all virtual.

  • by fm6 (162816)

    Why do they wait 17 months to stream sports events? Seriously, you guys need to work on your prose style a bit. These huge run-on sentences are a pain to read.

  • It is terrorism with a global reach.

    Not the terrorism that breaks things the way weapons do
    but terrorism against others in that these actions are above
    the law and are an abuse of power.

    The scary part is that the same shield that protects these
    terrorists is the same shield that would protect worse.

    The scary bit here is that this is all too close and parallel to the
    umbrella protections that the executioners of WW2 concentration
    camps operated under and behind.

    These camps did not start out as death camps -- the

  • When is someone going to step up and sue the ever loving shit out of the DOJ / ICE for ruining their business? There's no due process or trial - just the whims of uninformed Luddite politicians.

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.

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