Domain Name Registers Reject Hollywood Hack Criticism * TorrentFreak

Last week, the Hollywood Motion Picture Association (MPA) shared its annual snapshot of “big markets” with the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

This list usually includes examples of pirate sites and services. However, this goes further, as third-party intermediaries are also called upon.

Well-known domain registries?

This year, the MPA included five registries connected to the .CH, .IS, .RU, .TO and .TV domains. These organizations manage and oversee the respective TLDs. While registries are neutral service providers, rights holders believe they can take a more active anti-piracy approach.

“A registry, directly or through its contractual relationship with its registrars, has the ability to remove or deactivate domain names used by websites involved in massive copyright infringements,” MPA wrote.

With the nomination to the USTR’s annual list of Notorious Markets, these organizations risk coming under diplomatic pressure. However, the registries themselves see it quite differently.


The Tonga Network Information Center (TONIC), responsible for the .TO TLD, is one of the organizations involved. AMP specifically mentions sites such as,,,,,,,, and that use the TLD.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, TONIC points out that the organization has no obligation to respond to random third party complaints. TONIC highlights statements made by EFF in the past, which have also warned that taking domains offline without due process can undermine free speech.

This does not mean that TONIC is not taking any action. The registry informs us that it has complied with numerous court orders in the past, some of which have resulted in domain name suspensions.

“The .TO registry complies with orders of the relevant courts, including US courts, and has repeatedly removed domain names in accordance with court orders,” said Eric Gullichsen of TONIC.


MPA’s submission also includes the Icelandic ISNIC registry. According to the Hollywood group, pirate sites and services regularly use .IS domains and accuse the registry of not responding to law enforcement requests.

“Examples of fake websites operating with .IS domains include,,,, and ISNIC does not generally respond to international or local law enforcement requests, ”wrote MPA.

ISNIC CEO Jens P. Jensen categorically denies this latest accusation, saying it is “completely wrong”. ISNIC responds to local court orders and also accepts abuse complaints from third parties.

“ISNIC responds to genuine, well-written and informative abusive reports from private parties and law enforcement,” Jensen informs TorrentFreak.

“Our job then is to identify and, in some cases, provide the registrant with the registrant’s real name and address so that they can be held accountable,” he adds.


As a relatively small player, the Icelandic Registry says it goes above and beyond what other registries do. Jensen says that includes some big players “that the MPA decides not to mention because they could pull back sharply.”

ISNIC deals with complaints of abuse from outsiders through a “bad registration process” that verifies the identity of a domain owner. If a registrant cannot save or correct the registration within one to two weeks, the domain is suspended.

This policy and other ISNIC procedures comply with the new .IS Domain Law which was issued by the Icelandic Parliament earlier this year.

Comments from TONIC and ISNIC show that the two registers disagree with the characterizations of MPA. Both clearly reject the “big deal” label and hope the US Trade Representative will recognize that they are not acting in bad faith.

This is not the first time that registrars and registries have been named “high profile markets”. The MPA called many of the same organizations last year, but these were not included in the USTR’s final report on Notorious Markets.

October 28 update: The .ch SWITCH registry has also responded to our request for comment.

SWITCH specifies that it operates in accordance with the law. However, it lacks the legal authority to assess the legality of how domains are used.

As of January of this year, personal information is no longer included in Whois, but there are other options for third party complainants to access this information.

“Upon request, SWITCH will continue to grant access to the personal information of holders of domain names available in Whois if an overriding legitimate interest can prove to be credible. In principle, any person having a legitimate interest in asserting their rights in court has a primary interest in accessing the personal data of a domain name holder if this data is necessary for legal proceedings.

“SWITCH also provides assistance for the identification of holders of domain names in particular. If they do not identify themselves correctly, SWITCH is authorized to revoke the allocation of the domain name under certain conditions ”, adds the register.

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