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Court confirms DMCA ‘good faith’ web site shut down rights

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A U.S. court has extended the power of the DMCA even further with a ruling this week that backs up copyright holders' ability to shut down a Web site on "good faith."

InternetMovies.com had asked the District Court for the District of Hawaii to require that copyright holders investigate infringing Web sites before shutting them down. This rational request was rejected by the court, as its granted the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and any other DMCA zealot the right to put the clamp on Web sites at will.

"This decision rules that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) does not require a copyright holder to conduct an investigation to establish actual infringement prior to sending notice to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) requiring them to shut-down an allegedly infringing web site, or stopping service all together to an alleged violator," InternetMovies.com said in a statement.

In the land of the DMCA, a "good faith belief" of infringement makes it possible to hijack a Web site without investigation.

This decision seems to have thrown a large chunk of the Internet into a virtual Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. military describes its Cuban compound as the least worst place, which is an apt take on where Internet users appear to be.

InternetMovies.com claims to have provided little else other than movie trailers to upcoming flicks. Some would characterize this as a service for the movie industry, but the MPAA saw things in a different light.

After issuing several cease and desist orders, the MPAA shut down InternetMovies.com in 2001. The movie site then fought back by filing a lawsuit against the MPAA last year, claiming it did not provide copyrighted content to users at all.

Despite the recent setback, InternetMovies.com plans to continue the legal battle with the MPAA by filing an appeal with U.S. Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit here in San Francisco.

The company hopes to cut off a path for various DMCA zealots trying to shut the Internet down.

"This has serious implications to university campuses as many students and faculty use the school as ISPs and any copyright holder can seek to lawfully shut down whole university networks or obtain individual identity without an investigation under the protection of the DMCA," InternetMovies.com said in the statement.

This recent decision builds on a disturbing trend where no Internet user is safe from copyright holders' prying eyes.

For example, four Ohio State University students had their computers seized in a raid earlier this month and have yet to be charged with a crime. They've been banned from using the Internet at school and still have not received their kit back.

It's dangerous out there on the Web these days. Please, dear readers, surf with caution. ®

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