RIAA Removes OpenSea’s ‘Counterfeit’ .ETH Domain Auctions *TorrentFreak
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The RIAA is no stranger to sending takedown requests. In most cases, these notices target pirated content, but more recently the group defended its members against Ethereum Name Service (ENS) domain name sales on OpenSea. The NFT market complied with the request and withdrew the auctions, including that of RIAA.eth.
The music industry has had a difficult relationship with new technologies over the past few decades.
Cassettes, recordable CDs, MP3s and streaming services have all been described as a major threat to artist and label revenue.
More recently, various blockchain and NFT projects are seen as a growing problem. Earlier this year, the RIAA took aim at NFT Marketplace HitPiece, describing it as a scam site designed to trick fans into thinking they’ve purchased artist-approved collectibles.
HitPiece pulled the plug following this criticism and NFT Music Stream followed soon after. But these are not the only sites with problematic NFTs. In a Variety opinion piece published in March, RIAA CEO Mitch Glazier wrote that the problem is much bigger because many other sites are selling “counterfeit” NFTs.
“These sites charge exorbitant prices for these NFTs, promise ownership of a ‘single song recording,’ and often feature album art or artist photos to entice unsuspecting fans,” Glazier warned.
The problem is not limited to music-dedicated NFT projects that sell “rights” to songs and album art. Broader NFT marketplaces, through which third-party sellers can auction NFTs, also present challenges. And for the RIAA, these issues are close at hand.
RIAA attacks .ETH domains
The music industry group recently sent a takedown notice to the OpenSea NFT marketplace, asking the platform to remove several Ethereum Name Service (ENS) domain name listings. These blockchain-based domains are known for their .ETH extension and are popular among crypto aficionados.
The RIAA has no problem with the domain service itself, but takes offense when third parties sell domains with the RIAA mark and the names of its members and officers.
An RIAA takedown notice sent to OpenSea lists 51 ENS domain name auctions, including RIAA.eth, Sony-music.eth, Warnermusicgroup.eth, Atlanticrecords.eth, Virginrecords.eth, Universalmusic.eth, and republic-records. eth.
Additionally, several .ETH domains are named after music industry executives, including RIAA CEO Mitch Glazier, Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer, and Columbia Records CEO Ron Perry.
The RIAA is not happy with these domain name auctions and recently filed a request to have them removed. The group has informed OpenSea that it violates the rights of the RIAA and those of its members.
“ENS domain names […] infringe the trademarks of the RIAA or our members, because it results in the dilution, confusion and/or tarnishing of these trademarks. The sale of these ENS domain names is also subject to action under the Lanham Act.
“Further, the sale of ENS domain names that contain the names of officers of the RIAA or our member companies violates the Consumer Protection Anti-Cybersquatting Act,” the music group told the platform.
OpenSea appears to have complied with this request as all listings have now been removed. Instead of a domain auction, auction URLs now point to a delisting message.
While the RIAA certainly has reason to take action against trademark infringement, obviously not all areas are problematic. After all, there are other people named Ron Perry or Rob Stringer who no longer have the ability to purchase those domain names.
We contacted the RIAA for more information, but the band declined to comment further. We expect this won’t be the last time he takes action against NFTs.
The RIAA’s action coincides with a public relations campaign by LimeWire, which has just launched its own NFT marketplace. Ironically, the original LimeWire was already shut down by the RIAA after being sued for copyright infringement.
This reincarnation of LimeWire has nothing to do with the original file sharing software. Even its founder is far from happy to see the brand being used for this new purpose. The domain name and other assets were sold last year and are now in the hands of a completely different team.
Given the brand’s history, the new LimeWire will be wary of copyright issues. Its initial partnership with Soulja Boy shows that the platform actively partners with artists, even if they have a history of “piracy”. Moreover, the site also seems to be virus-free.
A copy of the RIAA/OpenSea takedown notice, obtained by TorrentFreak from a third-party source, is available here.