San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a federal appeals court in an amicus brief today to order the return of two domain names seized by the U.S. government in violation of the First Amendment.

The domain names -- and, owned by Spanish company Puerto 80 -- were seized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as part of "Operation in Our Sites," an initiative ICE claims will help stop piracy. It appears ICE targeted the sites because they contained links to live sport video streams, but the domain seizures impeded access to all of the content on the websites, including obviously non-infringing content like user-created forums, discussions, and technical tutorials. Prior to the seizure, Spanish courts found that Puerto 80 had not violated copyright law.

"Domain name seizures are blunt instruments that cause unacceptable collateral damage to free speech rights," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "Web site operators must have the confidence that government actions ostensibly targeting copyright infringement are undertaken legally. We urge the Court of Appeals to ensure that that happens."

Puerto 80 first tried to work with ICE and other U.S. government authorities to resolve the matter without court involvement, but when that was unsuccessful, petitioned the district court to return the domain names. The judge rejected the request, and so Puerto 80 appealed to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"ICE's domain name seizures, including this one, are occurring without meaningful court oversight, with no chance for the targets to defend themselves before their websites are taken down and a highly cumbersome process for challenge afterwards," said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "The government should stop these seizures until they comply with the law."

The Center for Democracy and Technology and Public Knowledge joined EFF's amicus brief.

For the full amicus brief:

For more on Puerto 80 v. U.S.:


Corynne McSherry
Intellectual Property Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

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