[governance] FW: [IP] ] Sony leaks reveal Hollywood is trying to break DNS, the backbone of the internet

michael gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Sat Dec 20 01:45:45 EST 2014

The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) appears intent on using US legal processes to attack the DNS system.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dewayne Hendricks <dewayne at warpspeed.com>
Date: Friday, December 19, 2014
Subject: [Dewayne-Net] Sony leaks reveal Hollywood is trying to break DNS, the backbone of the internet
To: Multiple recipients of Dewayne-Net <dewayne-net at warpspeed.com>

[Note:  This item comes from friend Steve Schear.  DLH]

Sony leaks reveal Hollywood is trying to break DNS, the backbone of the internet
A leaked legal memo reveals a plan for blacklisting pirate sites at the ISP level
By Russell Brandom
Dec 16 2014

Most anti-piracy tools take one of two paths: they either target the server that's sharing the files (pulling videos off YouTube or taking down sites like The Pirate Bay) or they make it harder to find (delisting offshore sites that share infringing content). But leaked documents reveal a frightening line of attack that's currently being considered by the MPAA: What if you simply erased any record that the site was there in the first place?

To do that, the MPAA's lawyers would target the Domain Name System (DNS) that directs traffic across the internet. The tactic was first proposed as part of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in 2011, but three years after the law failed in Congress, the MPAA has been looking for legal justification for the practice in existing law and working with ISPs like Comcast to examine how a system might work technically. If the system works, DNS-blocking could be the key to the MPAA's long-standing goal of blocking sites from delivering content to the US. At the same time, it represents a bold challenge to the basic engineering of the internet, threatening to break the very backbone of the web and drawing the industry into an increasingly nasty fight with Google.

The Domain Name System is a kind of phone book for the internet, translating URLs like http://www.theverge.com into IP addresses like Given a URL string, your computer will turn to a DNS server (often run by a local ISP or a third party like Google) to find the IP address of the corresponding server. Much like the phone book, that function is usually treated as a simple an engineering task — but a memo commissioned by the MPAA this August sketches out a legal case for blocking infringing sites from the DNS records entirely, like wiping unsavory addresses out of the phone book. You could still type http://www.piratebay.se into your browser, but without a working DNS record, you wouldn't be able to find the site itself. If a takedown notice could blacklist a site from every available DNS provider, the URL would be effectively erased from the internet.

Without a friendly DNS provider, the URL would be effectively erased from the internet

No one's ever tried to issue a takedown notice like that, but this latest memo suggests the MPAA is looking into it as a potentially powerful new tool in the fight against piracy. "A takedown notice program, therefore, could threaten ISPs with potential secondary liability in the event that they do not cease connecting users to known infringing material through their own DNS servers," the letter reads. "While not making it impossible for users to reach pirate sites (i.e., a user could still use a third-party DNS server), it could make it substantially more complicated for casual infringers to reach pirate sites if their ISPs decline to assist in the routing of communications to those sites." The full document is embedded below.


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