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Spanish web startup Puerto80 has sued the U.S. government, the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to get two domains back ICE seized in January. Puerto 80 used to run the popular web forum Rojadirecta.org and Rojadirecta.com, which were used to exchange links for live streams of U.S. sporting events.
ICE seized the domains in late January as part of its operation “In Our Sites,” which has targeted dozens of sites selling counterfeit products as well as a torrent search engine and a number of sites specializing in video streams.
Puerto80 has successfully defended its site in Spanish courts in the past, and is now arguing that its offering is legal. “United States courts would likely reach the same conclusion if and when the government ever decided to bring a cause of action against Puerto 80 alleging copyright infringement,” the company’s petition (PDF), filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, states.
The legality of a site like Rojadirecta in the U.S. is certainly debatable. Foreign courts have in the past ruled torrent sites and P2P services to be legal, while similar offerings haven’t had much luck in U.S. courts. However, the real issue here seems to be that domain seizures completely sidestep the legal process of determining these legal issues.
That’s why Puerto80’s lawsuit is already getting a thumbs-up from the EFF: “We’re very glad that Rojadirecta is fighting back so that this and other domain name seizures can receive more careful judicial consideration,” the organization writes on its blog, adding that it is prepared to get involved as well: “We’ll be following the case closely and expect to weigh in as amicus as well.”