News: Rap Site Responds To Government's Domain Takedown, "The Original Seizure Was Unjustified."

Monday, May 7, 2012 5:09PM

Written by Cyrus Langhorne

Popular hip-hop website Dajaz1.com has stepped forward to speak out on the government taking down its domain around Thanksgiving 2010 and, after an inability to justify its action, why they were done unjustly.

Speaking through its attorney, Dajaz1.com sent an open warning to all websites after being victimized by the government.

"The owner of Dajaz1.com appreciates the fact that the United States Government, on studying the matter further with all the information the RIAA could furnish, determined that there was in fact no probable cause to seek a forfeiture of the domain it had seized and held for a year. That exoneration, however, did not remedy the harms caused by a full year of censorship and secret proceedings -- a form of "digital Guantanamo" -- that knocked out an important and popular blog devoted to hip hop music and has nearly killed it. The original seizure was unjustified. The delay was unjustified. The secrecy in extensions of the forfeiture deadlines was unjustified." (Dajaz1)

The statement goes on to point out key issues with the government's takedown and copyright infringement policies.

"First, the seizure occurred pursuant to language the PRO-IP Act authorizing seizures of property used in connection with the making of, or trafficking in, "articles" in violation of copyright law. Second, seizing a blog for linking to four songs, even allegedly infringing ones, is equivalent to seizing the printing press of the New York Times because the newspaper, in its concert calendar, refers readers to four concerts where the promoters of those concerts have failed to pay ASCAP for the performance licenses. Third, RIAA's grand and sweeping attacks on dajaz1.com suggest that RIAA's powers of demonization far exceed its ability to substantiate its malicious statements with specific and credible facts." (Dajaz1)

Despite the accusations and takedown, no significant proof was provided which warranted the site's seizure.

Federal authorities who seized a popular hip-hop music site based on assertions from the Recording Industry Association of America that it was linking to four "pre-release" music tracks gave it back more than a year later without filing civil or criminal charges because of apparent recording industry delays in confirming infringement, according to court records obtained by Wired. The Los Angeles federal court records, which were unsealed Wednesday at the joint request of Wired, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the First Amendment Coalition, highlight a secret government process in which a judge granted the government repeated time extensions to build a civil or criminal case against Dajaz1.com, one of about 750 domains the government has seized in the last two years in a program known as Operation in Our Sites. (Wired)

Although a lack of evidence was apparent, government officials claim they did no wrongdoing.

The government apparently never received the evidence it needed, because late last year it dropped the case against Dajaz1, which is now back online. But in a statement over the weekend, the recording industry group suggested that it had done what had been asked of it: "Rights holders and the R.I.A.A. were requested to assist law enforcement and made every attempt to do so in a complete and prompt manner," the statement said. Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Sunday that government officials had followed all proper procedures in the case of Dajaz1, which was one of more than 760 sites seized. (New York Times)

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