DNS Belgium: Can A Judge Seize A .BE Domain Name?

The Swedish government has long been waging a struggle against “The Pirate Bay,” an online platform for the illegal downloading of music, films, games and software. On 12 May 2016, the Swedish Court of Appeal ruled in a case against Punt SE, the Swedish registry, about the domain names of “The Pirate Bay”. It upheld an early decision by a judge who had confiscated two domain names of “The Pirate Bay” (thepiratebay.se and piratebay.se). Punt SE was required to transfer the ownership of the domain names to the Swedish state.

DNS Belgium logoCould that happen in Belgium as well?

Whether that can happen in Belgium depends on the specific context and on whether there are legal grounds for it: is there infringement on intellectual property rights? Economic fraud or misleading practices? A criminal offence, e.g. child pornography?  A judge will investigate each time whether there is a possibility pursuant to the underlying legislation.

A second important difference between Belgium and Sweden is that confiscation can be carried out on the holder of a domain name, and not the registry. The registry is responsible for the technical and administrative management only.

When the crown prosecution service issues a requisition to get a domain name offline, the domain name in question is withdrawn. The 2 leading registries in Belgium, DNS Belgium and EURid, comply with the requisitions of the crown prosecution service in each case.

BAF vs. Telenet & Belgacom

A court has already ordered the withdrawal of a domain name in the past. In 2011, BAF, the Belgian Anti-piracy Federation, won a case against Telenet and Belgacom concerning some domain names of “The Pirate Bay”. Belgacom and Telenet had to make surfing to those websites impossible by either blocking the IP addresses or by blocking traffic to the domain name.

Alas, this measure is not the most efficient. Just a few days after the ruling, the company behind “The Pirate Bay” registered the domain name “depiraatbaai.be” and started using it. In Sweden “The Pirate Bay” can be reached “thepiratebay.org”, the domain name with which it all began for them all those years ago.

To be continued

The saga of the Swedish domain names of “The Pirate Bay” has not run its course yet with the ruling of the court of appeal. One of the co-founders of “The Pirate Bay”, Fredrik Neij, did not agree with the ruling and has appealed the decision to the highest judicial body of Sweden, the “Högsta domstolen”. The essence of the case:  should the confiscation be directed against Fredrik Neij or Punkt SE? To be continued without any doubt.

This DNS Belgium post was sourced from: