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Bodog takedown: maybe SOPA and PIPA and ACTA and DEA just aren’t necessary

The takedown of MegaUpload was major news around the world. In the UK, rightsholders have won blocking orders against Newzbin and, more recently against The Pirate Bay (which will probably be blocked by UK ISPs this summer). Again in the UK, the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) took down rnbXclusive a couple of weeks ago. And now US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has taken down Bodog.com (although Bodog.co.uk is still running).

Bodog is a gaming site, and online gaming is according to the Department of Justice illegal in the USA under the Federal Wire Act. A grand jury in Maryland indicted the founder of the company for conducting a gaming business illegal in that state. The company itself is not based in the USA, but “Sports betting is illegal in Maryland, and federal law prohibits bookmakers from flouting that law simply because they are located outside the country,” said Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. Attorney in Baltimore according to a report in Forbes.

This move seems to confirm the growing tendency for US courts to apply US laws outside of the United States. Bodog is not a US company; it is Canadian-owned. It is not registered in the USA, it is registered with Vancouver’s Domainclip. However, any possible organizational difficulty was simply bypassed by going to Verisign, the top-level .com operator, situate in California. This wasn’t a request, but a court order with which Verisign had no option but to comply. Verisign duly repointed bodog.com to the DHS takedown page, and the takedown was effected:

"This domain name has been seized by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations, Office of the Special Agent in Charge, Baltimore, Md. in accordance with a warrant obtained with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, and issued pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 981 and 1955(d) by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland."

“Even though SOPA is currently in limbo, the reality [is] that US law can now be asserted over all domains registered under .com, .net, org, .biz and maybe .info (Afilias is headquartered in Ireland by operates out of the US),” writes Mark Jeftovic in an easyDNS blog.

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