Monday, November 14, 2011

Is DNS Redirection A Viable Solution For Preventing IP Violations?

Of late, use of information and communication technology (ICT) for protection and strengthening of intellectual property rights (IPRs) has come into picture. ICT is used not only in a preventive manner but also in a curative and retaliatory manner.

Few months before it was reported in media that an Indian company was paid by the film industry to get copyrighted works removed from the Internet. The company openly admitted launching of Denial of Service (DoS) attacks against torrent sites that refuse to comply with takedown notices.

However, the use of ICT for protection of IPRs must be done in a legal manner and that also to the extent justified by the situation. The adopted measures must produce legitimate and legalised disabling and reasonably destructive effects and they should never exceed the limits prescribed by various laws across the world.

Domain name system (DNS) is the latest battle field for IP protection seekers. Malware writers are using the DNS cache poisoning attacks to manipulate DNS services. On the other hand, IP holders are contemplating using DNS redirection for protecting their IP rights.

For instance, US government is planning to use DNS redirection by acting at the behest of a coalition of interests looking for ways to defeat online piracy of music, movies, and other intellectual property. The US government is taking this drastic step as a part of the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PROTECT IP Act) in the Senate, and it's House counterpart, the "Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)."

These Acts/Bills would require DNS server operators in the US to replace the correct IP address for a website with an alternate address provided by the Attorney General's office, if the website was "infringing". The definition of infringing is distributing illegal copies, counterfeit goods or anti-DRM technology.

While the views of ICANN are still not available yet regulating and manipulating DNS redirection in this manner is not a viable option. There are better techno legal methods to achieve the task where a balance between IP holders and Internet users can be achieved. Let us see how developments take place in this regard.