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On Thursday, the 25th of November 2010, the Torrent Finder domain ( www.torrent-finder.com ), registered with Godaddy, was seized by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without any prior takedown notice or specific allegations of infringing activity. The Domain IP was suddenly changed without the registrar's knowledge and the system displayed a "Pending Registry Action" message on the domain's status. No contact was given until Wednesday, the 1st of December, when Godaddy replied to my inquiries, giving a contact for an ICE agent.
On Thursday, the 2nd of December, David Snead who is representing Torrent Finder contacted the ICE agent in charge who told him that "the orders are under seal, but that the seal will be lifted today or tomorrow". However, we have not heard from them until writing this post. Another email from Godaddy clarified that the action was taken by VeriSign: "please understand that these actions were taken by Verisign at the Registry level; and not by Go Daddy". The story was first reported on TorrentFreak and NYTimes.com.
Torrent Finder is a meta search engine that searches other search engines through iframes redirecting users to other domains and websites that Torrent Finder does not manage or control; most of the sites are suggested by Torrent Finder users through URL suggestion form. There have been many explanations about the mechanism of Torrent Finder Search on the media and how it works just like Google or Bing despite that Google does link to .torrent files directly. "So, when is the U.S. Government going to seize the Google domain?" Inquisitr.com asks. And Torrent Freak writes "When a site has no tracker, carries no torrents, lists no copyright works unless someone searches for them and responds just like Google, accusing it of infringement becomes somewhat of a minefield - unless you're ICE Homeland Security Investigations that is" and many others ask the same question, for instance Techdirt and Technobuffalo.com.
However, Torrent Finder was moved to torrent-finder.info domain and is still operating without any problem.
"The Rise of Web Censorship" is how Steven Vaughan-Nichols describes the seizure; he says "You see, Torrent-Finder, which is back up under a new domain name, Torrent-Finder.info doesn't host Torrent file or even BitTorrent file trackers. It's just a search engine dedicated to file torrents such as movies, TV shows, or software programs. You can find the same file torrents with Google if you know what you're doing. Torrent-Finder, and sites like it, just makes specific kinds of file searches easier.". Grant Gross reported to PCWorld that The Electronic Frontier Foundation vowed to fight domain-name seizures; advanced correspondence between David Snead and EFF attorney are in progress.
So far, the real reason of the seizure is not clear. However, there have been suggestions that this is a test case for COICA which has already been protested by many online campaigns such as demandprogress.org and EFF. We ask for your support in our case. please join these campaigns and send your suggestions to our email address. If you are a webmaster please add a link to this post, this is serious and if they pass the law then the sites list will be much bigger, it is as simple as shutting down the sites they do not like!