The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has submitted its latest submission for the U.S. Government’s 2018 Special 301 Review, pinpointing countries it believes should better protect the interests of the copyright industry.
The IIPA, which includes a wide range of copyright groups including the MPAA, RIAA, BSA, and ESA, has listed its complaints against a whole host of countries.
Canada is prominently discussed, of course, as are Argentina, China, India, Mexico, Switzerland and many others. The allegations are broad, ranging from border protection problems to pirate site hosting and everything in between.
What caught our eye, however, was a mention of ThePirateBay.cr. This domain name which, unlike the name suggests, sports a KickassTorrents logo, uses the Costa Rican Top Level Domain .cr.
While it’s a relatively small player in the torrent site ecosystem, it appears to be of great concern in diplomatic circles.
Previously, the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica threatened to have the country’s domain registry shut down unless it suspended ThePirateBay.cr. This hasn’t happened, yet, but it was a clear signal.
In the IIPA’s recent submission to the USTR, the domain is also brought into play. The copyright holders argue that Costa Rica is not living up to its obligations under the CAFTA-DR trade agreement.
“One of the key DR-CAFTA obligations that has not been implemented is introducing clear rules on copyright, liability, as well as providing meaningful legal incentives for inter-industry cooperation to deal with online infringements,” the IIPA writes.
“Instead, Costa Rica’s law offers largely unconditional liability exceptions to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and others, even allowing identified infringing activity to remain on their systems for as long as 45 days.”
Next, it puts a spotlight on the local domain registry, which it described as a safe haven for sites including ThePirateBay.cr.
“There are still many instances where the Costa Rican Top Level Domain (ccTLD) registry has provided a safe haven to notorious online enterprises dedicated to copyright infringement,” IIPA writes.
“For example, thepiratebay.cr domain is still online despite actions against it from ICANN and the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica. Costa Rica’s failure to deal effectively with its obligations regarding online infringement, more than six years after these came into force under DR-CAFTA, is a serious concern.”
The latter is worth highlighting. It claims that ICANN, the main oversight body for the Internet’s global domain name system, also “took action” against the notorious domain name.
While it is true that ICANN was made aware of the tense situation between the US Embassy and the Costa Rican domain registry through a letter, we were not aware of any action it took.
Interestingly, ICANN itself also appears to be unaware of this, when we asked the organization whether it took any action in response to the domain or letter.
“The Governmental Advisory Committee and ICANN Org took note of the letter but did not provide a response as it was not warranted. While the letter was addressed to the GAC Chair, it did not contain any specific question or request for action,” an ICANN spokesperson responded.
Whether ICANN got involved or not is irrelevant in the larger scheme though. The IIPA wants the US Government to use ThePirateBay.cr domain to spur Costa Rica into action. After all, no country would like a local domain registry to serve a Pirate Bay proxy.
Meanwhile, the official Pirate Bay domain remains operational from ThePirateBay.org, which happens to be using the US-based PIR registry. But let’s not bring that up…
IIPA’s full submission is available here (pdf).