U.S. Customs Seizes ATDHE.net, Accomplishes Nothing

ATDHE.net Seizure Notice (click to enhance)

This past week, U.S. Customs seized ATDHE.net.  The site was a popular destination for internet users wanting to watch sports events, such as UFC, Major League Baseball, NFL, Basketball, Hockey, Soccer and Tennis. Select television shows such as Top Gear and Two and Half Men were also available.  Visitors to the ATDHE.net are now greeted with the message from customs pictured at the right.  It reads:

This domain name has been seized by ICE – Homeland Security Investigations, Special Agent in Charge New York Office, in accordance with a seizure warrant obtained by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and issued pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 981 and 2323 by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

It is unlawful to reproduce or distribute copyrighted material, such as movies, music, software or games, without authorization.  Individuals who willfully reproduce or distribute copyrighted material, without authorization, risk criminal prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 2319.  First-time offenders convicted of a criminal felony copyright law will face up to five years in federal prison, restitution, forfeiture and fine.

The seizure is represents an unprecedented action on the part of U.S. Customs and undoubtedly led to a number of disappointed visitors to ATDHE.net who expected sports, but were greeted with the seizure notice.  It appears that U.S. authorities, hampered by the fact that ATDHE.net (based in the U.K.) and many other similar sites are located outside the U.S., have resorted to shutting down the domain names to fight copyright infringement.

The effectiveness of this tactic is a bit dubious, however; within hours the operators of ATDHE.net had a new site up and running at ATDHE.me with the notice:

NEWS: ATDHE.NET domain was seized. We will continue on with the website and live streaming at atdhe. Please bookmark and save our new address www.ATDHE.me and help us spread the word.

It doesn’t appear that this a fight that the authorities are going to win.  The amount of time and effort needed to take sites down is clearly greater than that needed to move them elsewhere as ATDHE.net’s operators clearly demonstrated by their rapid migration.  All users had to do was run a quick Google search to easily find the new URL.

I, for one, wish the government would stop wasting my tax dollars on what is clearly a futile battle and focus on issues that matter like this huge fucking recession and global warming.  One of the problems, I’d guess, is that most of the people in charge of this investigation are totally clueless when it comes to the internet.  They don’t even understand exactly what they are doing, much less how pointless it is.

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