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MPAA Cuts Deal to Boot Pirates From .Movie, Other Domain Names

The MPAA wants to stop pirates from colonizing the Internet’s newest frontiers.

The Motion Picture Association of America has reached an agreement with Donuts, the largest operator of new domain-name extensions — including .movie and .theater — under which the trade group will be able to notify the registry operator of “large-scale pirate websites” in the generic top-level domains.

Donuts said it will require clear evidence of pervasive copyright infringement and that the MPAA has first attempted to contact the third-party registrar and hosting provider for resolution. The domain-name company, after reviewing each case, may put the offending domain on hold or suspend it.

Since Donuts opened .movie registrations in mid-2015, 907 names have been registered in the top-level domain, according to the company. Lionsgate is among studios that have used .movie for the “Hunger Games” franchise, at TheHungerGames.movie, as well as for “Dirty Grandpa” and the upcoming fantasy epic “Gods of Egypt.”

In addition to .movie and .theater, Donuts’ 185 active top-level domains include .academy, .business, .company, .email, .media. .watch, .services and .technology. The company claims more than 1.3 million names have been registered in its domains.

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The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the not-for-profit org that coordinates IP addresses and domain names, began approving new generic top-level domains in the spring of 2013. The goal was to expand the Web’s name spaces beyond traditional TLDs like .com and .net — but the move also concerned intellectual property holders worried about cyber-squatters snapping up new domain names.

“This is a groundbreaking partnership and one we’re proud to undertake,” Donuts co-founder and executive VP Jon Nevett said. “Donuts, as the operator of .movie, .theater, .company and almost 200 other domain extensions, is committed to a healthy domain-name environment, and this is another step toward a safe and secure namespace.”

MPAA chairman Chris Dodd added that the agreement “demonstrates that the tech community and content creators can work together on voluntary initiatives to help ensure vibrant, legal digital marketplaces that benefit all members of the online ecosystem.”

Bellevue, Wash.-based Donuts, founded in 2010, has raised more than $100 million in funding.

Another registry, Australia-based Motion Picture Domain Registry, operates the .film top-level domain. MPDR says .film registrants must be members of an approved movie association, body or union.

MPAA has long combated online piracy businesses, seeking to snuff out copyright-infringing outfits around the globe. In November, a Popcorn Time offshoot shut down after a legal victory by MPAA, which has assumed ownership of the popcorntime.io domain name. The trade group also owns Hotfile.com, which now redirects to the trade group’s WhereToWatch.com guide to legit online video, after the MPAA forced the file-sharing site to cease operations in late 2013.

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