Efforts to take down websites for copyright infringement are likely to move beyond U.S.-based registries, with ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) promising to more closely cooperate with global law enforcement agencies and governments.
Cooperation to combat copyright infringement has been a hot topic this week at ICANN's international meeting in San José, Costa Rica. There are 22 registries and over 700 registrars accredited by ICANN. Registries contain domain names registered in a top-level domain, while registrars sell domains.
Any domain under a U.S. registry must follow U.S. laws regardless of where the servers are, according to agreements currently in place. The seizure of domains deemed to infringe on copyrights was first carried out by Verisign, the operator of the registry for .net and .com.
During an open session with the Government Advisory Committee (GAC), the ICANN board confirmed that it will enforce its contracts with registrars more effectively in order to meet expectations from governments and law enforcement authorities. The expectations were contained in a 12- page document submitted by the GAC, which also includes representatives from national law enforcement agencies as well as Interpol.
"There has been some agreement on 11 of the 12 recommendations made by law enforcement authorities to the registrar accreditation agreement; we will work to ensure agreement meets expectations and give registrars the incentive to accept recommendations right away," said Kurt Pritz, ICANN senior vice president in charge of stakeholder relations.
Representatives from governments, Interpol and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigationsaid they felt that ICANN's failure to enforce its own contractual agreements was damaging to Domain Name System users as well as end users.
Some of the 12 recommendations relating to registrar agreements was inclusion of a clause that holds registrars responsible through negligence for registering domains engaging in criminal activity. Another recommendation is for registrars to maintain detailed information of domain buyers, including their source IP addresses and transaction information, and validate the contact information given by domain buyers.
Law enforcement officials have also urged ICANN to review registrars' compliance record with enforcement agreements prior to renewing their contracts.
"Complaints on compliance started coming in the last six to nine months, a team of 12 is now in place and will improve the quality of service," said Rod Beckstrom, ICANN CEO and president.