In February of this year Donuts announced its newly minted “trusted notifier” program with the Motion Picture Association of America (“MPAA”). It was the first arrangement of its kind in the domain name industry made to handle clear cases of copyright infringement online. Another New gTLD registry Radix has struck a similar agreement with the MPAA.
While Donuts has outlined the tenets of the program when it was first announced, they think it would be instructive to review some real world examples of the referral system.
In March of this year, three domain names were referred to Donuts by the MPAA. Upon receipt of the referrals from the MPAA and verification that MPAA had followed the prerequisite steps and parameters set forth in the program, Donuts conducted an internal investigation to evaluate whether the sites appeared to be engaging in clear and pervasive copyright infringement. Donuts concluded that the first two were identical to well-known pirated content websites, which were subjects of prior court orders and were illegally streaming and providing downloads of movies, including those still in theaters. The third was dedicated to illegally downloading and live streaming television series.
According to their procedure, the relevant registrars were contacted regarding the infringements, along with a request for the registrars to notify the registrants and allow them the opportunity to respond to the reported abuse. Ultimately, the registrar for two of the names deleted them, and the hosting provider took action against the third domain name.
Last month, Donuts received notification of three additional potentially infringing sites. Their investigation found that two of the domains hosted sites that appeared to be related to a series of other sites that hosted clearly and pervasively infringing content. In a follow up, the registrar partners notified the registrants that the sites were subject to review under our trusted notifier procedure and offered the opportunity to have their positions heard. In both instances, the registrant failed to reply. Following its evaluation, Donuts elected to suspend both domain names pursuant to its Acceptable Use and Anti-Abuse Policy, and neither currently resolves.
In the third instance, the site in question appeared to be dedicated to streaming television series. However, following the normal outreach process and after discussions with the registrar and registrant, questions arose as to whether or not the site would meaningfully comply with notifications about infringing content on the site. Therefore, that site will be subject to further investigation by MPAA and potential further discussion with donus, but for the moment they have elected not to take action with respect to that particular site.
As Donus said in February “this is a landmark development in the continuing battle against pervasive illegal online piracy”.
“Donuts has been extremely careful in balancing the rights of its end-user customers along with those of copyright holders. We continue to believe this is a useful and efficient manner for addressing blatant online piracy, and we encourage others in the domain name community to follow suit with similar programs. Our hope is that this program will be a pre-cursor to a more streamlined industry-wide process that all interested parties can develop collaboratively.”