RIAA Doesn't Apologize For Year-Long Blog Censorship; Just Stands By Its Claim That The Site Broke The Law

from the well,-look-at-that dept

Following our story this morning about the government censoring a popular blog for over a year and denying them basic due process, before finally failing to find probable cause and returning the domain, it appears that the RIAA is trying to quickly absolve itself of responsibility for the whole thing. As we noted in our post, the government relied on an executive at the RIAA to claim that the works it used as evidence to seize the domain were infringing — despite the fact that the RIAA was in no position to know if the rightsholders had authorized the music sent to the site (and, in one case, despite the fact that the musician was not affiliated with the RIAA).

News.com now has a story about the whole mess as well, with a quote from the RIAA that ignores the lack of due process, the lack of probable cause, and just sorta shrugs its shoulders with a “well, we thought it was infringing.”

For a year and a half, we monitored the site, identifying instances where its operators had uploaded music to unauthorized file-sharing services where the recordings could be freely downloaded — music that artists had created with the expectation that they would have a chance to sell before it was leaked. Dajaz1 profited from its reputation for providing links to pre-release copies, and during that time nearly 2300 recordings linked to the site were removed from various file-sharing services. We are unaware of a single instance where the site operator objected by saying that the distribution was somehow authorized.

I’m not even entirely sure what that means. Considering that the music was sent by representatives of the label itself for the express purpose of having it promoted, it’s unclear how or why the RIAA believes Dajaz1 was infringing. And whether or not Dajaz1 objected to the RIAA throwing around DMCA notices really has nothing to do with what happened to the site. If there really was such evidence, wouldn’t the government have actually used it in court, rather than stalling for a year and finally admitting that there was no probable cause?

Either way, this response from the RIAA appears to ignore the horror that they helped allow the US government to flat out censor a web site that was used to promote their works. You’d think they’d be a little more careful and at least apologize. Either way, the RIAA might want to reconsider claiming that freedom of speech is a core RIAA value. Its “statement” here certainly suggests otherwise.

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Comments on “RIAA Doesn't Apologize For Year-Long Blog Censorship; Just Stands By Its Claim That The Site Broke The Law”

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Anonymous Poster says:

Is anyone shocked by this?

I mean, come on — the RIAA always thinks it’s in the right; did anyone expect them to admit they fucked up?

You won’t see an apology for this until a decade later, when someone who used to work for the RIAA will say “we probably…maybe…sort of…kinda made a teensy-weensy tiny error when we…y’know…uh…censoredalegalblog OKAY NEXT TOPIC PLEASE”.

The RIAA doesn’t believe it has to answer to anyone.

TheStupidOne says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Under the presumption of innocent until proven guilty it is up to the RIAA to provide evidence that their claims are true. Until that happens we can assume that their claims are fabricated.

I know for a fact that you are Pedo Bear. By your apparent logic, you should now have to provide evidence that you are not, in fact, Pedo Bear. Also, should you choose not to provide evidence, we will be taking that as proof that I am correct.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Besides, if it’s so implausible to post 2300 tracks without (accidentally) infringing on a copy protection or two perhaps that’s evidence that the law shouldn’t punish those who accidentally infringe. Maybe have the infringing content specifically taken down, but it shouldn’t further punish them or have the entire domain seized since that would result in plenty of authorized content never being distributed and such a result is socially unacceptable (though such a result is the intent of the RIAA et al of course).

It’s your exact bad logic that has resulted in so many restaurants and other venues being deterred from hosing independent performers. If so many independent performers perform, surely something must be infringing. Therefore, the venues either must pay up or not host. This results in so much non-infringing content not being heard just because a song or two might be infringing and the liability for that is too high. While this is the intended result of evil collection societies and the RIAA, to banish all competition whatsoever, it is a socially unacceptable one. It’s too bad the DOJ won’t do anything about it by charging these collection societies for anti-competitive behavior. No, these collection societies get the high court treatment.

Not to mention, it’s more difficult for content distributors to know what’s infringing than IP holders, so the punishment for making bogus takedown requests should be greater than the punishment for hosting infringing content. If it’s so difficult for those making the takedown requests to not make a takedown request that they aren’t authorized to make, how the heck is a third party who doesn’t ‘own’ the protections supposed to know that something is infringing? Third parties should be held to a lower standard. It maybe difficult or impossible for content hosts (be it online or a physical venue like a restaurant) to know if something is infringing, since copy protection is opt out and there is no centralized database to look it up and so almost all of the burden is placed on the non-IP holders to magically know that which an IP holder is in a much better position to know, which is even more reason why these venues shouldn’t be liable for accidentally hosting infringing content. Placing that liability on them deters them from hosting any content, including non-infringing content, because of the wrongful risk that the law places on them. This is a socially unacceptable result just to serve the privileges of a few IP holders.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

If there was a single unauthorized publication because Dajaz1 may have made a mistake (or someone without authorization ‘accidentally’ authorized them to publish content) then that should be challenged on an individual basis. The RIAA who whomever can contact them discuss the matter civilly.

Simply shutting down an entire website with no adversarial hearing or reasonable due process for an entire year under the pretext that ‘they host too much content, surely something is infringing’ is unacceptable.

JackHerer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The 2300 number is beside the point fabricated or not. The government found that there was no probable cause. That means there was so little evidence (i.e. none at all) that the blog had committed criminal copyright infringement and that there was no justification for forfeiting the domain. That’s like seizing a persons bank account because you are accusing them of being a drug dealer and then giving them back the money because there is no evidence that the person is in fact a drug dealer. The amount of money in the bank account is not really relevant to the argument of whether it should have been seized or not.

Secondly the RIAA don’t even claim that any of the music uploaded was unauthorised, they claim that the site operators “uploaded music to unauthorised file sharing services”. That is a massively disingenuous statement, the RIAA knows full well there is no such thing as an “unauthorised file sharing service”. Setting up and running a file sharing service does not require any authorisation from anyone. It is the sharing and duplication of the files that requires authorisation and if is that is what happened they could have said “the operators of the site uploaded music to file sharing sites without authorisation of the copyright holder”, however they make no such claim.

JackHerer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Well the related article says “the government decided that it would not file a forfeiture complaint — because there was no probable cause”. So are you try to say that this is incorrect. The government did not file a forfeiture complaint this is undisputed fact. So was this for some other reason other than lack of probable cause, for example there was probable cause, but they just didn’t feel filing a complaint or had better things to do with their time or simply couldn’t be bothered. Please explain?

out_of_the_blue says:

You're simply hard of understanding, Mike.

“uploaded music to unauthorized file-sharing services where the recordings could be freely downloaded”

Record companies for decades have sent “radio play only” discs out (don’t recall the term, but I have a couple…). IF Dajaz uploaded those for PUBLIC download as stated, then they violated the control given by copyright, NO QUESTION.

If you’re not familiar with HOW tunes are promoted, that’s just exposes another area of your ignorance and chutzpah.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You're simply hard of understanding, Mike.

You really are an unobjective asshat aren’t you? The truth is, you have no idea how these tunes were given to this website for promotion and you are making assumptions and qualifying it with IFs. But let’s pretend they did exactly as you said. IF they uploaded these “radio only” discs, and were thus infringing copyrights by doing so, that would have been evidence that the feds would have used against them. Considering that never happened, I can make my own assumption that such evidence doesn’t exist, because it never happened, and you totally pulled that out of your ass.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You're simply hard of understanding, Mike.

you make my head hurt

IF there is so much evidence against dajaz, why is the government dropping everything. Why did it take so long to make these announcements?

Why all the SECRECY?

That is what is seriously troubling. Dajaz is a FUCKING WEB SITE.

If RIAA and US were in the right, there would be no need for the secrecy.

“nothing to hide, nothing to fear”

RIAA/US have nothing and should fear.

As far as they’re concerned, Dajaz might as well be choir boys.

our right to free speech, to privacy, to not having someone look over our shoulders, to not be tagged and logged all outweigh your copyright

Dave (profile) says:

Re: Re: You're simply hard of understanding, Mike.

Ghya! For the love of all things that have holes (donuts, swiss cheese..) please stop replying to OotB. He is just a troll. He doesn’t read your arguments and he is incapable of reason and logic. His posts and your subsequent attempts at correction clog the forums and lower the standard of the discussion. I know it’s hard not to reply to someone who is so wrong (I’ve fallen for his “I dare you to correct me” schtick, but please try to resist. Stop feeding him and maybe he won’t come back.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: You're simply hard of understanding, Mike.

chutzpah? Hey you kids… GET OFF MY LAWN!!!!

“radio play only”(don’t recall the term, but I have a couple…) Soo you stole them? Purchased them illegally? Because they clearly state NOT FOR RESALE? They do say FOR PROMOTION ONLY NOT FOR RESALE. Hence FOR PROMOTION ONLY. Get it S for brains. I have these also when I worked for a local promoter. FOR PROMOTION ONLY. If I chose to promote them on my website, that was their intended purpose. FOR PROMOTION ONLY. Thats why it is not mentioned, nor could they prosecute. You should call yourself:

Andrew (profile) says:

Re: You're simply hard of understanding, Mike.

But ootb where is the proof of all this that you are talking about. The main argument of this story is the fact that due process wasn’t even followed. That alone, no matter what the site may/not be doing is scary as hell. The fact that they fabricated evidence is just as bad.

As much as you want to say this is about piracy its so much bigger than piracy and that is what you have to realize.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You're simply hard of understanding, Mike.

Tunes today need to be promoted on Wikipedia, you upload a sample there and put a long history of where did it came from, who played and other stuff, all of this linking to more tunes, then if there is no link to a place where I can hear it, I will use Google and failing that I will use P2P to find it, generally it doesn’t get to the P2P no more, VEVO give it all out for free.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: You're simply hard of understanding, Mike.

What was printed on the label was “promotional use only” and or “for airplay only”.

A lot of the time the all night DJs spent part of their shifts making cassette copies of the good stuff and it was out the next morning.

Everyone knew this was happening and no one really made a fuss about it unless the all night DJ backed a cube truck to the door in the morning loaded crates filled with cassettes onto it. /s

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: You're simply hard of understanding, Mike.

Can I simply point out that the issue is due process. Not whether or not the site did whatever or not.

Due process says, criminal, civil or common law that when authorities seize something they are obligated to tell those they seized it from the reasons for it within a reasonable period of time (usually within 72 hours) and if there is a court hearing that the person whose assets have been seized have the RIGHT to be there or their appointed representative (aka lawyer) has the RIGHT to be there and has since Magna Charta.

Star Chamber courts went out with the Middle Ages, though they seem to be making a comeback and what makes me nervous is that people like you see nothing at all wrong with that.

While there may be an alleged instance of infringement, never judges in a court of law so it’s still alleged and not legal fact, it’s about due process. And that you don’t see that shows not only chutzpah but a predilection to the approval of tyranny all in the name of a civil matter.

You may think the price is worth it. I don’t and I don’t see many people who would. No matter how well founded the RIAA’s claims were.

As the site has been returned to its owner without a public court appearance by the government, RIAA or anyone else my suspicion is that the seizure was unreasonable, illegal and without cause.

And no, I don’t for one instant believe the 23,000 number. No one sends 23,000 records, CDs or audio clips to one station, website or anywhere for promotional purposes. They send one. Ans in 1. If said entity produces more the usual response is to cut them off not sieze assests.

Nor do I believe your previous protestations that you don’t like or support the RIAA, MPAA or government excess. It appears to me that not only do you but you’re quite prepared to cheerlead it.

Actions, young fella, me lad, speak louder than words and your actions brand up as supporter of tyranny.

Have fun. The goosestepping class is down the corner and two the left, and turn right at the urinal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You're simply hard of understanding, Mike.

Record companies for decades have sent “promotional marketing teams” out with hookers, blow, cash, and their latest cookie cutter crap band CD’s in order to get Radio stations to play their latest ‘cash cow’. It was called payola and it’s still being used in practice, just not as publicly now.

If you’re not familiar with HOW tunes were promoted in the 19th century, that just exposes another area of your ignorance a chutzpah…

censored-bloggah (profile) says:

Re: You're simply hard of understanding, Mike.

Record companies rarely do this in 2011. Having said that, when they do send out such a disc they are silently watermarked to identify the source of which disk the music was leaked from. Any blogger with any knowledge or connection to the music industry such as the one in this case is fully aware of this and not that stupid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

(and, as others have pointed out, lawsuits are expensive and Dajaz1 did hire lawyers and tried a legal approach and the legal system and the govt shut them out. Otherwise, IP trolls would just say, “why didn’t they try to challenge the takedown”. But they did. So now it’s “why didn’t they sue” and if they did sue would have been something else. But all of that misses the point).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

If you knew anything about this case, you’d know the legal counsel for dajaz1.com was working pro bono. Do you really think that now with the charges dropped, the false accusations, the illegal seizure, the failure to provide due process, that the pro bono counsel aren’t going to use those to get paid? A lawsuit is guaranteed in this case and they will get PAID. The RIAA will be named also. What you see them doing now as mentioned in the article is CYA. Dajaz1.com need to set a precedent here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If the government can hold a business hostage for a year without SOPA imagine what it will do with it then.

And the owner of that business will not get damages, imagine craiglist going out of business for a year all their competitors would be ahead of them if they even come back, of course it wouldn’t happen to Craiglist which is big, but to all the other Craiglist likes that are honest and are not this is real, just like a little blog can be held for a year without do process and not even an apology for all their troubles caused by whatever reason.

anonymous says:

a) no way were the RIAA watching this or any other site for a year+ without trying to get it shut down. that would have happened far sooner than that!
b) be prepared for many more such incidents as soon as SOPA/PIPA or something similar gets into law.
c) dont for one second think that the alternative bill posted about on TD earlier will even get a chance. too much money paid out by the entertainment industries to allow that to happen!

Richard says:


“We are unaware of a single instance where the site operator objected by saying that the distribution was somehow authorized” strikes me as peculiar wording. The rest of the statement was reasonably business-like and specific whereas the last line is evasive. Why not just say “we never received any objection from the site operator”?

Maybe reading too much into it.

Anonymous Coward says:

I wouldn’t doubt that RIAA found links to infringing content posted elsewhere. That’s how it’s done right?

I don’t mind that the Justice Department refused to comment on ongoing investigations.

But the secret courts and secret rulings etc lead me to believe the government really does believe there is more to it than copyright infringement. I think perhaps they are using infringement enforcement as cover for another kind of battle.

Is it possible spies or terrorists are using links on blogs to send messages to agents through music files with steganography? Does anyone but NSA really bother to compare the least significant bits of uploaded music files? Suppose they learned from a raid that moles are instructed to download certain files that meet a pattern, say P. Diddy files posted every 17th of the month? That would explain the secrecy.

Then, when the communication link has been idle long enough, say after a year, and is no longer useful, they just return the site.

I’m not saying it’s right, but it would make them look a little more intelligent than the complete morons one assumes them to be at first blush.

Andrew (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I actually think this is a bold, wild, interesting and entertaining theory.

I am not bashing you btw but your right if they had some sort of explanation like what you theorized then it would make them look less foolish.

My opinion is the government has no reasonable explanation and that it is a lot of fabrication but I hope and pray that I am proven wrong.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Now THAT would make a good plot for the movie blue is forever threatening to make should someone hand him $100 million to make (interest and repayment free, I assume).

It’s an interesting thought but I can’t for the life of me buy it, much as I’d love to cause any decent spy would have a backup communications channel and even a half brain dead terrorist probably would too.

Hold on a moment. I’ll retract the half brain dead terrorist part. Having seen the intelligence level of some of the IP maximalists around here I’m not at all sure of that. Never, ever underestimate the stupidity of “true believers” — fundamentalist religious folk, IP maximalists or aliens/mayan 2012 disaster folks. It has no end,

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Nah, That’s a bunch of conspiracy theorist crap…

Everyone knows that that the terrorist communications are encoded in the Justin Bieber video’s and comments on youtube…

Play the track backwards and at the appropriate spot, there will be a packet of recorded info, to find the appropriate spot look for a comment somewhere in the thread like this one:

@JBJDJS i love him ♥

eden44224 43 seconds ago


By careful combination of the numeric digits in the user ID, and the number of Y’s (36) and !’s (19)in the GAYYY!!! we can determine that at 2:36:19 in the video there is an encoded terrorist transmission…

Now get off my lawn and give me back my foil hat….

RowdyRebel (profile) says:

Follow up

I had a great comment that for some reason is not posted. So, I will sum it up for all of you:

Is the US Government guilty of the violation of Freedom of Speech? No.

Is the US Government guilty of the violation of Freedom of the Press? Yes.

That alone should be a good enough retainer for any attorney with the gumption to sue the US Government for infringement of any form of media, be it the news or a blog on an artists website, domain.

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