music industry sees these as paper
victories, as file sharing has continued
largely unabated. In some basic sense,
law has failed the music industry.
Technology has changed the integrity
associated with distributing copies of
copyrighted works by making copying easy and worldwide distribution
instantaneous. To distribute a copy of
the work is to put the means of production into the hands of consumers.
The rights model of the law has not
changed—authors are entitled to control copying—but the practical ability to enforce that right has shrunk.
The music industry started by chasing
firms that were facilitating peer-to-peer file swapping. But this was like
chasing quicksilver: even if you got
your hands on one version, another
would quickly reappear and the hive-mind of the P2P networks would reorganize around the new version.
The litigation clock is wildly out of
sync with the speed of P2P organization.
Ordinary law enforcement scales poorly
and it is easy to see why the content industry would like a scalable way to enforce the key right to control whether
copies are made of copyrighted works.
the Rojadirecta Case
In late 2008, Congress passed the Prioritizing Resources and Organization
for Intellectual Property Act of 2008.
The sole virtue of such a clumsy name
is that it shortens to the PRO IP Act. The
new act made it possible for the federal government to seize domain names
associated with Web sites where allegedly infringing behavior was taking
place or being facilitated. And seize it
has. On June 30, 2010, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau launched Operation in Our Sites
and seized nine domain names and
physical assets connected to commercial movie and television piracy Web
sites. The program has expanded with
additional domain name seizures for
77 sites in November, 2010 and with
three additional sets of seizures of domain names through mid-2011.
Take a closer look at one of these cases. On February 1, 2011, the U.S. government seized the rojadirecta.com and rojadirecta.org domain names. Before the
seizures, rojadirecta.com and rojadirecta.org offered up a guide to Internet
TV focusing on sports (a lot of what the
home pages for rojadirecta.com (top) and rojadirecta.me (below).
U.S. calls soccer but the rest of the world
calls football). Like the early Napster,
Rojadirecta offers links, not direct hosting, to facilitate what it calls P2P TV.
But if you go to those domain names
today, when you type the .com or .org
sites into a browser after the seizure,
you are not offered links to the beauti-
ful game. The URL bar for your browser
will indicate you have indeed reached
your intended destination, but when
you look at your screen you see three
U.S. governmental enforcement seals.
The rest of the page briefly sets out the
basis for the seizure—a search warrant
under two federal statutes—and states
that copyright infringement can be a