Overzealous Fed Seizure Of Hip-Hop Websites Highlight RIAA’s Influence On Government
In late 2010, popular websites OnSmash.com and RapGodFathers were shuttered by federal agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), operating under the Department of Homeland Security. ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations division carried out a crackdown on several Hip-Hop related sites and blogs over claims that these domains were responsible for copyright infringement. Dajaz1.com, a New Music Cartel (NMC) site that ICE blocked for well over a year, was unceremoniously reinstated after covert government attempts to build a case against the music site failed, reports Wired.
Late Wednesday (May 3) in Los Angeles federal courts, records were unsealed under a request from Wired, the First Amendment Coalition and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The unveiling of the records highlight that the government’s draconian attacks on Dajaz1.com at the suggestion of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) points to the power and influence of the group more than ever before.
For the past 13 months, Dajaz1.com was seized as a judge granted the feds several time extensions to build a case. However, due to a lack of evidence, the site was released back to its owner without apology. Electronic Frontier Foundation legal director Cindy Cohn attacked the government’s tactics and blamed the RIAA for meddling.
“Here you have ICE making a seizure, based on the say-so of the record company guys, and getting secret extensions as they wait for their masters, the record companies, for evidence to prosecute,” Cohn told Wired “This is the RIAA controlling a government investigation and holding it up for a year.”
Dajaz1.com was seized in November of 2010 along with other sites under the aggressive ICE crackdown “Operation In Our Sites,” this based on the RIAA saying that four songs were posted on the site were unauthorized “pre-release” tracks. While the government continued to build its case recently as eight months ago, Dajaz1.com’s owner, Nasib, was kept uninformed of the case details. Further, Nasib has been quoted saying record industry insiders provided him with the songs that inspired the wrath of the feds.
Dajaz1.com may be back in business but a whopping 750 sites of various types are still under government seizure. Posing a possible threat to Internet freedom, ICE and its ambitious operation could change the complexion of the Web forever.
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