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Techdirt Files FOIA Requests Concerning ICE 'Anti-Piracy' Videos

from the digging-in dept

Earlier today, I filed three Freedom of Information requests concerning the infamous “anti-piracy PSA” that Homeland Security’s ICE division started placing on domains it seized. As we noted at the time, the videos were not new and not created by ICE. Instead, they were part of a campaign put together by New York City with the help of NBC Universal and the MPAA. The scripts of the videos were misleading, and I was troubled by the idea that the federal government would be playing corporately produced and funded propaganda, with the imprimatur of the Department of Homeland Security. I asked a series of friendly (non-aggressive) questions to Brian Hale, officially the spokesperson for ICE within the Department of Homeland Security about where they got the video and how much was paid for it. Hale and Homeland Security apparently decided not to comment at all, despite multiple email requests.

Separately, I made requests to the City of New York, to get their side of the story, but after being asked who I was reporting for, what “the nature” of my story was and who else I was talking to (all of which I answered honestly), I received no further response from the City of New York.

Thus, the three Freedom of Information requests — filed using the new system from MuckRock.com, an open government tool that seeks to publish documents retrieved via such requests and which recently built a tool to make it easier to make such requests (which I’m now testing) — are as follows:

The NY State law says that the city must respond to my request within five business days. DHS has a longer period of time to respond. Honestly, it’s silly that I had to file such requests. Homeland Security could have easily cleared this up weeks ago by answering my simple questions concerning how the federal government licensed this video. The fact that it has refused to do so necessitated this formal approach, unfortunately.

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Companies: mpaa, nbc universal

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Comments on “Techdirt Files FOIA Requests Concerning ICE 'Anti-Piracy' Videos”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Response

no he is saying that if the person requesting disagrees with they they can ignore him until he makes a FOIA request. Then they can tell him it costs $100,000 to get a team of interns to track down what he wants, redact everything but pronouns, and make a copy.

Only give information to people that agree with you unless otherwise forced by stupid “law.” Sharing information leads to informed debate which is the last thing we want. Besides pirates share information, you dont want to be a pirate do you?

One_of_the_Norm (profile) says:

Re: I filed three Freedom of Information requests

Which is good, because with the potential offender* filing information requests the government officials now have “documented proof of subversive activities” toward the government. Which makes it easier to legally fight the offender* when the offender* complains or attempts to sue after finding the newly hidden GPS tracker under his/her car.

Which was placed there using completely legitimate “court documents” that just happen to be filed over… ummmm… hmmm… well that isn’t important, we’ll get back to you on the location later.

(*subnote offender: see entry for ‘anyone who questions government activities or actions’ in local references)

–sarcasm over, returning to your normally scheduled program–

Smarta** says:

Re: Re: Not happening

No need. It takes five government agencies and sixteen defense contractors. First they have to evaluate the national security impact of the bulb, the socket, the wiring, and each and every photon. Then they have to evaluate the amount of electricity, where it’s coming from, how the bulb got there, who made the socket, the bulb, the filament, and the wall mount. They need to make sure classified information isn’t going to leak through the bulb in the form of infrared heat. They they get the sixteen contractors to do the work, design the system of screwing in the bulb appropriately, and then evaluate it’s functioning for the next thirty-six years, thereby costing the taxpayers about $1.2 trillion dollars….

But it will create a few jobs… so the plan is a success. Hooray!

revwillie56 says:

Re: Re: Not happening

Better to ask for government documents concerning federal documents, programs, research into how many Federal Agencies it takes to screw in a light bulb and the taxpayer cost of each report. $1.2 trllion per year as appropriated by Congress for each Federal Department to have their own maintainace department – ignoring each department has their own appropriations department to buy a light bulb which costs anywhere between $80 to $0.39 depending on how, where, and allowed to buy.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I certain

Honestly, you’re right (probably unintentionally). The recording industry is not just the RIAA and their labels, but a larger group of people that will always be needed. If copyright was abolished tomorrow and downloading songs was legalized, the recording industry wouldn’t flinch, the music industry wouldn’t flinch. The RIAA would die a horrible, flaming death, and reality would just shrug them off like the bad idea they are. The music will still flow and so will the money.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I certain

Strange then that I have never seen a record sold in the last 7yrs.. all I see are crappy CD’s by wannabee marketing hyped artists using computers to mask that they cannot actually sing…

When we had ‘records’ at least we could get some good, though expensive, music by the ‘recording industry’ since they were not wasting all their money on their egos, or legal fishing expeditions and instead spent it on the actual music industry and strategic positioning.. ie: Not going to Youtube/***IDOL to grab the latest wannabee star

The Music Industry will never die, humanity has too much of a cultural history with music. The Recording Industry on the other hand.. Ever seen what happens when you cut a chickens head off? Just before it falls over stone dead and plucked.. it races around all over the p[lace doing nothing much but spewing out gore and bile onto anything it touches.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Aren't they the ones?

Isn’t it them and their blind followers who are always saying that if you haven’t done anything wrong then you have nothing to hide when they are pushing for more transparency in our daily lives?
Interesting that they wouldn’t respond then when we are asking them to be open about operations that are funded with OUR tax dollars.

Anonymous Coward says:


1. The government will attempt to block MuckRock.com, presumably by declaring that they arbitrarily don’t have to obey FOIA requests associated with them.
2. A lawsuit (with the support of interested parties like the EFF) will, after a lengthy court battle, declare that the government does, in fact, have to respond to FOIA requests.
3. The government will try somewhere between 0 and 3 more attempts to get out of responding to the FOIA requests. Each time, it will be decided (at taxpayer’s expense) that they do, in fact, have to respond to FOIA requests.
4. After kicking and screaming for months, the government will finally give in and respond to the FOIA requests, which will reveal nothing particularly controversial.

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