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Old 05-05-12, 17:52   #1
 
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Default RIAA Behind US Gov's Failed Domain Name Seizure

RIAA Behind US Government’s Failed Domain Name Seizure

Posted: 04 May 2012 02:23 AM PDT Ernesto

By late 2010, the U.S. Government’s Operation in Our Sites was in full swing. Domain names, considered property under the same forfeiture laws used to seize material items connected to criminal activity, were being swept up left and right in the name of protecting American jobs.

Among them was DaJaz1.com, a hip-hop focused site from which a Special Agent Andrew Reynolds said he’d downloaded pre-release music. Of course, Reynolds didn’t find the site on his own. He’d been directed there by the RIAA who, for their own reasons, had chosen to target Dajaz1 over the thousands of other sites online.

The rhetoric was familiar. According to the authorities, who were being spoon-fed by the labels, Dajaz1 was a criminal enterprise sucking the lifeblood from the US music business by leaking tracks before their street date. But as later became clear, behind the scenes the site was being fed music to leak by the labels in order to create buzz and generate sales.

Last December, after lying in limbo for more than a year, Dajaz1′s domain was suddenly returned, astonishingly because the Feds had come to the conclusion there was no case to answer. But for the five months since up until this week, court papers have remained sealed, thus hiding the reasons the Dajaz1 case became such a disaster.

Now, thanks to pressure from EFF, the First Amendment Coalition, and Wired, the documents were unsealed Wednesday. They reveal an embarrassment for the US Government, the RIAA and due process.

For a year, DaJaz1 lawyer Andrew P. Bridges tried and failed to have the Dajaz1 domain seizure overturned. At every step he was obstructed and delayed. When he asked for copies of the documentation requesting the extension to the forfeiture procedure and the court’s documentation granting it, each and every time he was denied and told the papers were under seal.

It now appears that all along, despite claiming to have a good enough case to label Dajaz1 a criminal enterprise, the U.S. Government had no usable evidence. The proof was supposed to be supplied by the RIAA but it failed to arrive in quality or in a timely fashion.

In July 2011, the Department of Homeland Security asked for more time to build the case against the site, noting that content from the Dajaz1 website had been sent to rightsholders for “evaluation” but had not been returned.

But in September 2011 they were back again, seeking a further extension for exactly the same reasons. The RIAA, named in the newly unsealed court papers, weren’t coming up with the goods. Eventually the Government conceded defeat and handed the domain back.

“The records confirm what was already suggested by the initial affidavit used to obtain the seizure order: that ICE, and its attorneys, are effectively acting as the hired gun of the content industry at taxpayers’ expense,” the EFF said in a statement.

“Instead of relying on rightsholders to determine whether a seizure was appropriate, the government should have been conducting its own thorough investigation. If it had acted in anything like good faith, it could have determined that the site wasn’t a proper target even before the seizure, or at least could have discovered and rectified the mistake before a year had passed.”

In the whole copyright infringement / piracy debate there is a lot of fiery rhetoric from both sides but this case is truly scary. To have Dajaz1′s domain seized and the site effectively shut down without being in receipt of the proper evidence is unforgivable. Worst still, the parties that caused this to happen remain unaccountable, free to do the same again.
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Old 05-05-12, 18:59   #2
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Default Re: RIAA Behind US Gov's Failed Domain Name Seizure

The ICE seizures over DaJaz1 and Rojadirecta, were legal disasters. Once again, DOJ has egg on the face over internet legal attempts to control what the copywrong gang doesn't like.

I noticed that Rojadirecta isn't mentioned in this article when I read it yesterday. Rojadirecta has already gotten it's domain back. In both cases they had to send in the lawyers to make the government obey the law. You will notice in the article that there is a one year limitation on property seizures. The purpose of property seizures as allowed by the court, isn't just to take away someone's stuff. Can't do that. The purpose of confiscation of property, as related to court actions, is to prevent the evidence from being tampered with prior to court. This is why the 1 year limit. It is not to give government nor police the ability to gain through property seizure. The only purpose of confiscation or seizure is preparation for court. It is the duty and the burden of the seizing arm to take it to court within the year or let the evidence go.

In Rojadirecta case, it was even more strange. Rojadirecta is based in Spain, and is a tv/sports/website. Rojadirecta has already withstood 2 court cases in Spain, where they were ruled legal both times. Senator Wylan wanted to know from ICE, what diplomat did they go through, prior to the seizure, to make sure that trade treaties between the two nations had not been violated. ICE responded with no answer.

My reasoning in all of this wandering is to set up the idea of why I believe Megaupload will be handled the same way. Once again, it's been done wrong. In both the previous cases, the response of ICE has been that if the owners want their property they have to come to the US and bring a court case to get them back and that is not how the law reads. ICE has perverted the law into something they want it to say and doesn't. The main purpose has been to kill the site. In neither case did they actually accomplish that. Both sites had back up domains, outside the control of the US government and within no more than a day were back on line.

It has been the hope of the government that the domains, only worth something like $10 or $15 wasn't worth the expense to go to court over. That's true of the counterfeit themed domains that were seized at the same time. But both examples had spent considerable time investing in the domains to increase their value.

What you are seeing in these examples is what is called regulatory capture. It's a great way to show corruption but it has little benefit for those who were acted against illegally. Regulatory capture is when the government acts at the behest of some corporation, regardless of the law, because that is what the corporation wants. Most of the time, the corporation gets the law changed to back it up. You also see this in action with the dealings over TPB.
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