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May 5, 2011 4:19 PM   Subscribe

Mozilla recently received a request from the US Department of Homeland Security to disable and block at the root level the MAFIAAfire plug-in for Firefox. Mozilla declined to roll over.
posted by pjern (57 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 


I feel so secure.

Disclaimer: I'm not American, but with the recent Conservative majority your IP laws and enforcement will probably soon be mine as well!
posted by ODiV at 4:22 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am both stupid and lazy and after a cursory reading of 3 sentences I could not understand what this plug-in does. It.. redirects... to.. things? From things? I.. Hulk smash? Maybe it's just for us stupids, but a little more context could be cool if anyone wants to explain the dynamics of what this is and why it's a "threat" and so on. Or.. maybe not.
posted by kbanas at 4:22 PM on May 5, 2011


It can be a pain to remember alternative domains when the main domain is moved or illegally seized.

So like, if the Pirate Bay is shut down, and it pops up at some alternative address, this redirects me? So I don't have to remember?
posted by kbanas at 4:23 PM on May 5, 2011


after a cursory reading of 3 sentences I could not understand what this plug-in does

It appears to simplify the process of getting to alternate locations of sites seized at the behest of our good friends at the MPAA and RIAA.
posted by Trurl at 4:25 PM on May 5, 2011


Good for you, Mozilla. And thank you.

This isn't a plugin I need or care about. But I believe in principled stands.
posted by Xoebe at 4:26 PM on May 5, 2011 [18 favorites]


So like, if the Pirate Bay is shut down, and it pops up at some alternative address, this redirects me? So I don't have to remember?

Yes, at least that's my understanding of it. I fail to see how DHS has a leg to stand on here. Even if the domains were seized legally and all that, how is someone saying "Jim moved to $newaddress because the government seized his old house" (which is basically what this mafiaafire plugin seems to do.
posted by chimaera at 4:28 PM on May 5, 2011


kbanas: The department of homeland security has been shutting down a lot of websites lately, with no trial, no oversight, no warrant. The way they do this is to seize their DNS entries, pointing their domain name to a DHS site instead. This was handy, because a lot of these sites were hosted overseas, and to do this sort of takedown legally takes a lot of messy paperwork. Instead of actually taking the site down, they simply make its DNS entries resolve to the DHS site instead. This plugin for firefox maintained a list of the real IP addresses for these sites, and silently redirected them back to their original site.
This was a good thing, because a lot of the sites taken down actually had nothing illegal on them, or they were not primarily an illegal site, just they happened to have some illegal content posted to them at one point. For instance, a few dozen thousand sites hosted on afraid.org's free dns service were taken down because one out of the 20,000 sites happened to host MP3's. This is a threat to national security, so 19,999 sites had to be illegally taken down as a result.
posted by inedible at 4:28 PM on May 5, 2011 [30 favorites]


)... illegal? They aren't providing the supposedly illegal services themselves, just pointing anyone interested toward where they can find it now.
posted by chimaera at 4:29 PM on May 5, 2011


The legality of this plugin will be an interesting question to watch.
  1. Are Mozilla distributing it through their own channels? If so, as a US-based company, they may be criminally liable for contributory copyright infringement.
  2. Where are the authors based? Does their country have a DMCA-style copyright regime? If so, they may be subject to criminal prosecution.
posted by acb at 4:31 PM on May 5, 2011


I fail to see how DHS has a leg to stand on here.

From the FAQ:

This is almost the same as... copying and pasting the alternative address from a list of addresses... except this is automated. ... Basically, all you are really doing is using a tool to do something that you can legally do on your own.

I suppose they'll claim that automation is "facilitating piracy".
posted by Trurl at 4:31 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


)... illegal? They aren't providing the supposedly illegal services themselves, just pointing anyone interested toward where they can find it now.

That's what Limewire said too. The judge didn't buy it then either.
posted by acb at 4:31 PM on May 5, 2011


list of sites being redirected by the plugin
posted by victors at 4:35 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where are the authors based? Does their country have a DMCA-style copyright regime? If so, they may be subject to criminal prosecution.

Sweden. Which has some of the toughest (US-drafted) intellectual property laws in Europe, thanks to the Pirate Bay case. Expect to see a prosecution shortly.
posted by acb at 4:37 PM on May 5, 2011




Maybe it's just for us stupids, but a little more context could be cool if anyone wants to explain the dynamics of what this is and why it's a "threat" and so on. Or.. maybe not.

In short: the US government seized domain names, apparently without even court orders, even for domains that were hosted on servers outside the US and which had been explicitly declared legal in their home countries. This means that anyone going to those domains are, instead, instantly sent to a scary-looking government page telling them the domain has been seized.

This plugin has some method for owners of those domain names to tell it about a new one. So when you go to 'blockedsite.com', which the government (quite illegally, probably) grabbed, the plugin checks a list and sees that it's now on 'blockedsite.co.za' or something like that, and transparently redirects you.

Voila, you can easily get to sites that one section of the US government doesn't like, and so they leaned on Mozilla to remove the plugin from their registry. Since there's zero legal basis for this request (or the seizures, from what I can see), Mozilla refused. So you can get to blockedsite.com easily, and any future seizures will be of very limited usefulness.
posted by Malor at 4:41 PM on May 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


One of the most pernicious effects of the War of on Terror is this idea that Big Bureaucratic Government doesn't need any longer to go to courts to justify its searches, seizures, and takings.

Our Founding Fathers, who the Teabaggers remind us were demi-gods or at the least giants among men and directly inspired by Protestant Lord Blond Jesus Christ Triumphant, created (with God's help) three branches of government and insisted on judicial review* for a reason.

This idea that an extra-judicial request from "the government" (that is, more than likely an anonymous but ambitious careerist looking to climb the ladder) should be treated as an unquestionable order -- because of the permanent terrorism emergency! -- undermines our real American values.

The courts are still in existence, and for this plugin which supposedly facilitates file-trading, recourse to the special super-secret FISA court isn't necessary, there's no ticking time-bomb or fleeing suspect. No reason not to go to court.

And if the government can't go to court -- if there's no legal basis for what it wants to do, if no law passed by Congress, no regulation published in the Federal Register to back it up, government shouldn't be doing it.

Either get a court's sign-off or go home.

Aren't the 'Baggers against excessive government regulation?

And who got paid off to make the Department of Homeland Security's mission protecting the bottom-line for record companies? How's that make me safer?

Sounds to me like there's some fat to trim at DHS.


* Yeah, OK, judicial review wasn't established until the Court's deciosn in Marbury. But I'm writing this in the voice of a Teabagger, that is, without subtleties.
posted by orthogonality at 4:48 PM on May 5, 2011 [20 favorites]


Disclaimer: I'm not American, but with the recent Conservative majority your IP laws and enforcement will probably soon be mine as well!

I know it's all fashionable to be "OMG HARPER" in the last few days, but draconian copyright law is the one truly bipartisan issue. The DMCA passed the US House on a voice vote and passed the Senate unanimously. I think you'll find the same for other laws written by the RIAA / MPAA.
posted by bbuda at 4:49 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


in other news, a judge ruled recently that an IP address cannot be linked to a person. i'm awfully curious how long this precedent will last, but it's a step in the right direction.
posted by radiosilents at 4:52 PM on May 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


kbanas: The department of homeland security has been shutting down a lot of websites lately, with no trial, no oversight, no warrant. The way they do this is to seize their DNS entries, pointing their domain name to a DHS site instead.

And the fallout will be -- this plugin's just the beginning -- that this lazy DHS misuse of DNS for political purposes will result in a fracturing of DNS, either by different DNS servers resolving the same address to different IPs, or alternatives to DNS, like this plugin.

And eventually someone like Droopy Dog, I mean Senator Joe "Sanctimony" Lieberman will propose legislation making alternatives to DNS illegal for reasons of "national security".

(Obama, after all, is already pushing a "voluntary" internet ID.)
posted by orthogonality at 4:53 PM on May 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


this needs to be branded as a service for users of censored sites in repressive jurisdictions
posted by 3mendo at 4:55 PM on May 5, 2011




this needs to be branded as a service for users of censored sites in repressive jurisdictions

Like the U.S.


Uncle Sam'll be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.
posted by orthogonality at 5:00 PM on May 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is there a version for Chrome? Or will Google toe the line?
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:16 PM on May 5, 2011


Your pick boys: nation of laws or nation of claws
posted by grobstein at 5:28 PM on May 5, 2011


my cats say the same thing nearly daily. usually when I'm not giving them the treats they're demanding.
posted by hippybear at 5:30 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here the seized domain names allegedly were used to stream content protected by copyrights of professional sports franchises and other media concerns.

Is there something in DHS's charter that charges it with protecting the copyrights of media concerns? Color me naive, but I find this very confusing.
posted by steambadger at 5:42 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, steambadger, there really isn't. They appear to have invented the power out of nowhere.
posted by Malor at 5:54 PM on May 5, 2011


acb: “The legality of this plugin will be an interesting question to watch.”

How would it even begin to be illegal under US law? And even if it were, how in god's name does the DHS even have jurisdiction here? There's a reason people have been referring to these as "illegal seizures;" they have absolutely no precedent in United States law.

You may note that the DHS has not responded to Mozilla's questions. That's because Mozilla is right.
posted by koeselitz at 5:54 PM on May 5, 2011


ODiV: what does that WikiLeaks cable have to do with anything? I can't see anything in it that proves that the US Democrats don't support copyright law. I think maybe you need to read more than the first ten words of bbuda's comment.
posted by koeselitz at 5:58 PM on May 5, 2011


so, in real speak this program is like the guy by the ally going, "hey, this way" you trust him because he is that guy.
posted by clavdivs at 5:59 PM on May 5, 2011


That's what Limewire said too. The judge didn't buy it then either.

Limewire was selling their software commercially. They got court order'd to cut it out. But as for the software itself? Here ya go.

This add-on here, MAFIAAfire, isn't commercial, and doesn't even have a link to donate to the creators.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:59 PM on May 5, 2011


(And, for the record, I think bbuda is probably right. With or without Harper, Canada will probably go the US route on copyright. Not something I'm glad of, but I'm sure it's true.)
posted by koeselitz at 5:59 PM on May 5, 2011


DHS: Department of Hopeless Suspicion
posted by bwg at 6:02 PM on May 5, 2011


I think maybe you need to read more than the first ten words of bbuda's comment.

I read the rest of the words in his comment. I didn't say anything about where the US Democrats fall on this issue, nor do I really think it's relevant. I don't understand why it was brought up at all.

I believe a majority Conservative government will move us closer to the US in terms of IP law, probably more effectively than a minority Conservative government.
posted by ODiV at 6:06 PM on May 5, 2011


And I linked the Wikileaks cable because it said that "The Harper Government" assured the US that they would introduce legislation along these lines soon.

It seemed clear to me that a source saying "here is what the Conservatives said they would do" relates strongly with "the Conservatives have a majority so this will likely happen". I didn't think I'd have to clarify why I was linking it.
posted by ODiV at 6:09 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, the point of the comment, I think, was that, in the US, it wasn't conservatives that moved us toward ridiculous IP law. So: be careful. I guess I'm no expert on Canadian politics, but I can easily imagine Ignatieff & co sliding just as quickly down that slippery slope.
posted by koeselitz at 6:12 PM on May 5, 2011


Uncle Sam'll be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

What are you talking about? It can't happen here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:12 PM on May 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


And the fallout will be -- this plugin's just the beginning -- that this lazy DHS misuse of DNS for political purposes will result in a fracturing of DNS

Are ICANN and the root servers still run by the US gov't? I thought this was scheduled to change back under the Bush admin.?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:15 PM on May 5, 2011


I can easily imagine Ignatieff & co sliding just as quickly down that slippery slope.

I'm sorry, who? :)

Seriously though, it will be faster and more likely under our current government was the point I was trying to make and that's all.

I don't disagree that many politicians from differing parties (we don't use the word bipartisan so much up here) are friendly to corporations.
posted by ODiV at 6:17 PM on May 5, 2011


I can easily imagine Ignatieff & co sliding just as quickly down that slippery slope.

At this point, all "& co" can do is slide. And Iggy doesn't have a seat, or a job, anymore. I heard he's going to be working on the USA TV drama "Monk".
posted by orthogonality at 6:19 PM on May 5, 2011


I don't download pirated content. I have no use for this.

But I'm downloading it right now. Because I can.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:37 PM on May 5, 2011


Okay, then -- given that Homeland Security doesn't have any legal authority to protect the intellectual property of "media concerns", doesn't it seem likely that this is some sort of prep work for a move against Wikileaks, or some similar site?
posted by steambadger at 7:11 PM on May 5, 2011


What the fuck. Why is the Department of Homeland Security now involving itself in copyright scuffles? How am I (even hypothetically) any safer as a result of this action?

Deeply ashamed of my government right now. Wanton abuses of power like this should be punished with jail time.
posted by schmod at 7:29 PM on May 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


ZenMasterThis- Me too.
Tools are good.
posted by drhydro at 8:13 PM on May 5, 2011


installed. thanks pjern
posted by telstar at 8:18 PM on May 5, 2011


"I can easily imagine Ignatieff & co sliding just as quickly down that slippery slope."

Except that it was a Conservative in a Toronto riding who was taking money from the RIAA during the 2008 election (don't SUE me! It could have been a provincial election...)
posted by sneebler at 8:46 PM on May 5, 2011


This whole kerfuffle has turned me on to a couple of interesting websites I didn't even know existed before.

Nice job, DHS!
posted by CommonSense at 9:03 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


this lazy DHS misuse of DNS for political purposes will result in a fracturing of DNS, either by different DNS servers resolving the same address to different IPs, or alternatives to DNS, like this plugin.

That's a possibility to be sure — at least for a while, there was a group in Europe operating an alternative DNS root that was synched to the ICANN root, but was ready to be unplugged at any moment if a certain number of people believed that ICANN had been co-opted — although I think there's a lot of room for staying out of reach of DHS given the current DNS architecture.

The biggest problem is that many site operators forget that the generic ".com", ".net", ".org", ".gov", ".mil" TLDs have an unwritten but definitely present ".us" appended to them. If you want to operate a site that does things that isn't legal in the US, do not buy a domain that is in the US-controlled namespace.

If you're going to operate a music-download site which takes advantage of Russian copyright law, it's probably worth the extra three characters in the FQDN to have "suspiciouslycheapmusic.co.ru" instead of "suspiciouslycheapmusic.com". It's a lot less likely that the US DHS is going to grab a legally-registered Russian domain than one registered in their jurisdictional backyard.

Most of the seized domains that MAFIAAfire restores are in .com/.org/.net, with one or two in .tv and .cc. These last two are technically non-US TLDs (Tuvalu and the Cocos Islands, respectively), but both are operated by VeriSign, which pretty much ought to be considered a de facto agency of the US Government. A step in the right direction, but not far enough.

I suspect that a lot of site operators just don't bother to consider the legal ramifications of their domain registration when they set it up, and instead concentrate on aesthetic aspects, like making their URL short and memorable. This is fine if you're selling dog food (although maybe not, if you're planning on really upsetting the dog food cartel), but if you're going to tickle the tail of an entrenched industry which happens to have a large part of the government of the world's richest country squarely by the balls, maybe there are more important things to think about than getting a short FQDN? Pick one from a country where what you're doing is legal. (If they also have nuclear weapons and an aversion to being pushed around by the US, so much the better.) But make sure the registrar isn't located in the US!

As site operators realize this and stop using US-controlled TLDs, DHS won't have quite so easy a time grabbing domains left and right. Then things might get very interesting, but we have a while before we get there just yet, I think.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:34 PM on May 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


The only reason the updated copyright legislation will be finally introduced in Canada has nothing to do with left wing/right wing, and everything to do with majority/minority. Copyright legislation has always been low-priority (thankfully), so it kept dieing every time we had a new election (or prorogued parliament - remember that?). With the Conservatives in for four years, they'll (unfortunately) finally have the time to get around to it.

Also, echoing those who don't need this, hopefully won't ever need this, but downloaded it anyways.
posted by Arandia at 10:35 PM on May 5, 2011


Is there something in DHS's charter that charges it with protecting the copyrights of media concerns? Color me naive, but I find this very confusing.

Customs has always handled IP stuff. Customs (now part of ICE) is part of DHS.
posted by birdherder at 10:55 PM on May 5, 2011


Is this plugin really only redirecting 14 sites? Doesn't anyone have DNS records archived from before the seizure?

Why handle this via a firefox plugin instead of alternative DNS servers? Are the P2P DNS or Dot-P2P projects dead?

We want an automated system that simply remembers the entire DNS space, detects suspicious redirects, and queries the site owner for a redirect record.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:38 AM on May 6, 2011


How many of you were dismayed by the hasty and ill-concieved creation of the DHS, would like it dismantled, and its various functions handed back to the other three-letter agencies whom should have been performing them in the first place?

Show of hands.
posted by clarknova at 2:02 AM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


orthogonality: or europe (i think it was written here actually.)

but anyway, if they do that.. ::poof:: no intent to circumvent whatever you're talking about sir, no.
posted by 3mendo at 3:18 AM on May 6, 2011


There is some good stuff on their list of websites that I had overlooked.

Torrent-finder.com
RojaDirecta.com
RojaDirecta.org
HQ-streams.com
HQ-streams.net
FirstRow.net
Ilemi.com
ilemi.com
ilemii.com
Onsmash.com
Rapgodfathers.com
TVShack.cc
TVShack.net
Movies-links.tv
atdhe.net
posted by CautionToTheWind at 4:44 AM on May 6, 2011


See this shit? This is why I'm an "information wants to be free" person.

Making abortion illegal won't stop all abortions from happening, but it will make the abortions that happen more socially and physically dangerous for the woman. Also women and doctors will both be under more observation if the law is to be meaningful, meaning less privacy for everyone. That takes meaningful safety away from all women. So, to me, who cares about viability or when/if/that it's a human life: doing something that would make all women less physically safe and less legally protected is a shitty idea.

Making copying bits illegal won't stop all bit copying, but it will make the bits that are copied more socially and legally dangerous for the copiers. Also everyone who uses computers will be under more observation if the law is to be meaningful, meaning less privacy for everyone. That takes meaningful safety away from every single person. So, to me, who cares about the publishers or the agents or even the musicians film makers authors and illustrators: doing something that would make every single person less legally protected is a shitty idea.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:25 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there something in DHS's charter that charges it with protecting the copyrights of media concerns? Color me naive, but I find this very confusing.

It's understandable why you're confused. You're probably under the impression that the DHS was created for a legitimate purpose in the first place, which it wasn't.
posted by odinsdream at 7:00 AM on May 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


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