Feds Back To Seizing Websites Over Claims Of Copyright Infringement

from the motherfucking-eagles dept

While we’ve written plenty about the US Justice Department and US Homeland Security (via ICE) seizing various websites on questionable legal authority by claiming they were tools used for criminal copyright infringement, a series of pretty massive screwups seemed to have them, at least temporarily, shying away from such seizures around copyright claims. Huge errors like seizing Dajaz1 for over a year and then having to admit they had no evidence and give it back seemed to at least make them a little less cowboyish about the websites they chose to shut down and censor.

But, of course, this is the federal government we’re talking about, and they sure loved the ability to shut down speech without any sort of adversarial hearing or, you know, due process. So you just knew it wouldn’t last. The latest is that the feds have seized three more domains (applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com), claiming that they were “engaged in the illegal distribution of copies of copyrighted Android cell phone apps.” Indeed, a quick look at the internet archive certainly suggests that these sites advertised that you could get “paid” apps for free if you joined. But does that warrant a criminal investigation and seizure? Perhaps there are more details, but given the sketchy details of earlier seizures, I’d wonder.

But, more to the point, if these sites were really engaged in such things, why wouldn’t a civil copyright infringement lawsuit suffice? Why should the government get involved, when it involves completely pulling down a website with no warning, no adversarial hearing and no due process for those accused?

The Justice Department seems to indicate that this sort of thing is now a “top priority,” because (apparently) they have way too much free time on their hands:

“Cracking down on piracy of copyrighted works – including popular apps – is a top priority of the Criminal Division,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Software apps have become an increasingly essential part of our nation’s economy and creative culture, and the Criminal Division is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect the creators of these apps and other forms of intellectual property from those who seek to steal it.”

“Criminal copyright laws apply to apps for cell phones and tablets, just as they do to other software, music and writings. These laws protect and encourage the hard work and ingenuity of software developers entering this growing and important part of our economy. We will continue to seize and shut down websites that market pirated apps, and to pursue those responsible for criminal charges if appropriate,” said U.S. Attorney Yates.

“The theft of intellectual property, particularly within the cyber arena, is a growing problem and one that cannot be ignored by the U.S government’s law enforcement community. These thefts cost companies millions of dollars and can even inhibit the development and implementation of new ideas and applications. The FBI, in working with its various corporate and government partners, is not only committed to combating such thefts but is well poised to coordinate with the many jurisdictions that are impacted by such activities,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Lamkin.

One other tidbit of interest. Unlike the previous seizure disasters, this one appears not to have been led by ICE, but directly by the Justice Department (via the FBI). The announcement doesn’t name this as a part of “Operation in our Sites” which seems to be a term specific to ICE’s controversial program. Either way, they’re still certainly using the eagle-heavy “seized” graphic they love to throw around, so, of course, we’d be remiss if we did not remind folks that they can purchase their very own “seized tee,” to show what you think of the government’s efforts.

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Comments on “Feds Back To Seizing Websites Over Claims Of Copyright Infringement”

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310 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Indeed, a quick look at the internet archive certainly suggests that these sites advertised that you could get “paid” apps for free if you joined. But does that warrant a criminal investigation and seizure? Perhaps there are more details, but given the sketchy details of earlier seizures, I’d wonder.

Mercy me, we wouldn’t want to actually enforce the law against those illegally profiting from the work of others, would we.

But, more to the point, if these sites were really engaged in such things, why wouldn’t a civil copyright infringement lawsuit suffice? Why should the government get involved, when it involves completely pulling down a website with no warning, no adversarial hearing and no due process for those accused?

Again Masnick, seizure of property is analogous to the arrest of a person and is permissible under the law. Surprisingly, the Court- not you- is the arbiter of due process.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Mike has a pretty funny way of looking at things. Even reading his story with his spin on it, I can pretty much figure it out. Giving away “paid” apps to members? I don’t even have to work hard to see where this would be an issue.

Mike can’t see it because Mike specifically doesn’t want to see it.

Stories like this bring the rest of Techdirt into question – if Mike can’t see this, what else is he totally missing or intentionally misunderstanding?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Damn, you got him! Pirate Mike is actually the King of the Pirates, who personally selects and appoints all internet pirates in this country. Guess the cat’s out of the bag now.

Darn, I was hoping to use my insider status to take Australia, but since he can only appoint folks for this country, I’ll need to join http://www.techdirt.co.au.

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Actually I think that the nutshell is that current “piracy enforcement” does nothing to actually prevent the piracy because they’re smarter than you are and, really, could care less what any gov does. It’s the tromping, stomp fest of this that or the other “right” in the process. Not too mention the corrupt bullshit “businesses” that are dangling the fucking money carrot demanding we help prop up woefully outdated business practices so Mr. Fuck can still make his buck.

The successful business model will never result in a continuing prop up of cunts with wishes and kisses.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

First off, stealing a cheap 99 cent to 10 USD app is a dirt bag thing to do. I know that people will still do this, but I can still feel offended.
With that said, the DoJ, FBI, ICE, DHS, etc simply seizing these sites isn’t doing anything to alleviate the piracy problem. In fact from previous cases, it is simply harming third parties that are not even associated with the problem. Added to the fact that this behavior is pushing back DNSSEC deployment, right after coming off from the DNSChanger virus. They are simply putting the world at risk due to illegal or at least immoral actions (I consider seizure without a trial illegal, as most would.) against mostly foreign individuals that once taken down usually re-appear within days to a few hours.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Wait… so all those ‘memberships’ that I purchased where I received ‘free’ merchandise are really dirty rotten pirates….

I knew BMG was a scam… those guys need to go die in a fire… they suckered me with ‘free’ music just for signing up, and I believed them (enough to sign up 5 times to get 50 ‘free’ CD’s)…

Wait giving away stuff to entice membership means your site is a pirate and needs to be destroyed?

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re:

actually enforce the law against those illegally profiting from the work of others,

Please cite the specific criminal law that applies. (Hint: don’t do silly things like mix and match civil and criminal laws.)

seizure of property is analogous to the arrest of a person and is permissible under the law. Surprisingly, the Court- not you- is the arbiter of due process.

And the courts have indicated that in cases where the thing being seized involves speech, such as newspapers and its modern equivalent websites, there is a higher burden on the government to avoid seizing protected speech.

Prisoner 201 says:

Re: Re:

“Mercy me, we wouldn’t want to actually enforce the law against those illegally profiting from the work of others, would we.”

Silly troll, if they were following the law and the constitution – you know, due process and such, then there would be no complaint.

But you are stuck in a “ends justifies the means” mindset, so there is little point arguing with you.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Even drug dealers deserve due process. There’s a big difference between a full criminal investigation having proven the guy is a drug dealer and thus having a JUDICIAL WARRANT to seize his assets and jail him. I haven’t gone through much detail in this case but if there’s no WARRANT with EVIDENCE backing it up and it doesn’t follow due process then yes, even if the guy IS a drug dealer he should go free. If due process is followed you won’t have to free the guy and give him his assets back afterwards.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Again Masnick, seizure of property is analogous to the arrest of a person and is permissible under the law. Surprisingly, the Court- not you- is the arbiter of due process.

EXACTLY. And the people responsible for these sites were arrested and…..oh, there haven’t been any arrests yet? OK, well, since property has been seized, there is obviously a trial or at least a hearing set up for some time in the very near future to make sure these sites were properly taken down and that it wasn’t just a mistake, right? No? No trial? No due process? OK, then….um…..IF YOU’RE NOT FOR THIS YOU OBVIOUSLY HATE FREEDOM AND AMERICA AND THE CHILDREN!

That sound about right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The forfeiture actions are civil proceedings, not criminal. The websites are given an opportunity for a hearing, after the seizure has occurred. Just like criminals get arrested first and given a chance to argue their case later, property suspected of being used for crime gets seized first too. Yes, they could do it differently, but they don’t have to.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The forfeiture actions are civil proceedings, not criminal.

The websites are given an opportunity for a hearing, after the seizure has occurred.

Like Dajaz1 was? You know, after a year of the government stalling, missing multiple deadlines to return the seized property or allow a hearing as the law requires? After a year of waiting for the RIAA to provide evidence that it should have had before seizure? That all evidence turned out to be completely non-existant?

Would you care to address the argument that the government appears to be completely inept when it comes to seizing anything on the grounds of copyright infringement?

Would you care to address the argument that in some cases it is blatantly obvious that the government is denying constitutionally protected rights of its citizens?

Would you care to comment on whether this shows that if the government wishes to continue seizing websites, it should hold a hearing on the merits of the evidence prior to seizure?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Well, I hope they decide to seize your house for about a year for some criminal act that you didn’t commit, but decide never bring any charges against you. I’m sure you would feel the same way, since a judge issued a warrant based on evidence from a corporation that is known to give incorrect and/or blatantly false statistics on both income and damages to their business.

velox (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“Puerto 80 is challenging the seizures before two different courts to this day. Not sure I get your point. They’ve got great lawyers working on the cases.

Ah yes. Great lawyers are at work and all’s right with the world.

Of course at least half of the reason for this whole IP morass is to keep as many lawyers employed for as long as possible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Mind? He sure would, but you’re still missing the point. To build on your “business model” analogy, what laws could possibly be passed to prevent kicking someone in the balls? Sure, we already have assault laws and the threat of civil lawsuits, but how can you *prevent* it without needing to go through all of that “proof” crap that just slows down the righteous hammer of justice?

Since you’ve threatened bodily harm, and you’re wearing shoes, I’d guess you don’t mind if we arrest you and anyone you’ve had contact with in the last 48 hours while we sort it out, do you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The free market is breaking me.”

When someone is stealing your content that you work on for months and then giving it away. You think that is ok?? So if I come into your place of business and steal your shit and then give it away you would be ok with that?

I don’t have a problem if someone wants to develop an app and then give it away for free. That is their business decision to make. I have a problem with people taking that which does not belong to them (the rights of distribution which are protected by copyright law).

You can call it anything you want (infringement, sharing, hugging – yes I added that last one to show how ridiculous the vocabulary arguments have gotten here), it doesn’t matter it’s still a violation of copyright law.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

If you deal drugs, traffic stolen property, etc. that property is seized until the trial. So are you arguing that property shouldn’t be seized before the trial, and crimes should be allowed to continue?

So they seize the server which contains the illegal items, right? No, they don’t? They just take away the domain and you can still get to the site using the IP address?

Usually when law enforcement seizes something, it is to prevent evidence from being destroyed or further harm, but in this case, they aren’t preventing further harm or preventing the destruction of evidence. They are only making it marginally more difficult for the person who is alleged to be breaking the law. The person gets another domain or publicizes the IP address to the server and the problem continues. And it opens the process to abuse, ala Dejaz1. If they have enough evidence to prosecute, get a search warrant to seize the server. Seizing the domain does nothing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

we see here the false stealing analogy in it natural environment, deeply embedded in the troll. The two form a symbiotic relationship, the troll can excrete a putrid substance with the help of the false stealing analogy and the false stealing analogy gets to meet new and interesting internet message boards. This relationship truly is one of the wonders of our horrifying planet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Obviously you’re not that bright, because if the right of distribution were taken, they wouldn’t be able to distribute something still. As in, there’d be nothing for them to do because they’d have nothing period.

If you are making overly broad generalizations and comments about people, you should feel like a piece of shit (because you very much are a piece of shit).

Also, it’s worth noting, that outside of the United States, a great many countries (some of which are huge and filled with smartphone users) HAVE NO ACCESS to the Play Store, through which Android applications are available. Meaning, the only way for them to even get apps is through websites such as those seized. Now, you might say, well tough. But a reasonable mind would say, well if they are legally unable to get the applications for whatever reason, there is no harm being done by them gaining access to said apps. Again though, it depends on the situation and whatnot.

Do try and take your head out of your ass though before you speak again. You come off as an extremist. (Probably because you are one.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

“The thing that is taken is the right of distribution which is a vital part of copyright law.”

But it isn’t taken is the point I was making, which was contrary to what you had stated (which I just quoted).

That right has NOT been taken, merely been infringed upon.

Also, I did not say that copyright law hasn’t been violated. I merely pointed out the error in what you stated.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I think I’m not far off of your position. Let’s both agree that copyright infringement is bad and wrong. Here’s where I think (please correct me) we’re going to disagree:

What are you going to do about it?

I can’t imagine an answer that you, me, or anyone else will come up with that will stop *all* infringement, so it’s going to continue at some level in the future. Even turning off the internet will just increase the sneakernet. I guess one option is to call in the troops at any hit of infringement and hope that you can either reduce it, or scare people into being your customers.

My major concern is that this approach tends to have quite a bit of collateral damage for dubious benefit. Wouldn’t it be better to change the problem at the source (the business) rather than call in someone else (the government) to fix it for you?

Again, don’t get distracted in thinking that I somehow “approve” of infringement. I’m merely suggesting that we can both extrapolate that it will happen, regardless of it legality, in the future, just like vandalism, assault, and other crimes continue to happen today.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

It isn’t my place to dictate to any other person how they should run their business. If someone develops a product, service, song, movie, software, whatever, they are entitled to market that in any way they see fit. The public has the RIGHT to refuse to agree to those terms and can demonstrate that right by refusing to purchase, download, etc… The public has absolutely no right to steal that app, song, movie, car, etc…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“There has grown in the minds of certain groups in this country the idea that just because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with guaranteeing such a profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is supported by neither statute or common law. Neither corporations or individuals have the right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.” – Robert A. Heinlein, 1939

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Where is the violation of due process? Property used in the commission of a suspected crime is seized all of the time. The cops stop a guys car and find a kilo of suspected coke and $100,000 in cash you’d better believe that the car, cash and coke will all be seized. All consistent with due process.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

There are a number of people in this country who feel that such forfeitures and seizures are a violation of due process. To allow the government to basically steal stuff from citizens with little more than a gut feeling that the property was used in a crime is an outrageous violation of an individual’s right to property.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

And with this, you have proven you completely loathe justice. The point of laws is to give those accused their fair day in court, which the US government has demonstrated, at least in copyright infringement concerns, it does not want to do. So at this point, the accused is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. Once here, the point of obeying the law gets thrown out the window: if the government is simply going to stomp all over you, why bother obeying the law?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

There are a number of people in this country who feel that such forfeitures and seizures are a violation of due process.

Unfortunately for you, none seem to be judges.

To allow the government to basically steal stuff from citizens with little more than a gut feeling that the property was used in a crime is an outrageous violation of an individual’s right to property.

Law enforcement and the Court calls it “probable cause”. Even the Lord High Piracy Apologist admits that there’s something suspect about a website offering “free paid apps” if you join.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Law enforcement and the Court calls it “probable cause”. Even the Lord High Piracy Apologist admits that there’s something suspect about a website offering “free paid apps” if you join.

I agree that this particular site was probably violating the law. That’s not my concern here. I fear the the precedence this type of activity sets.

The precedence that should be getting set is that in order for a website to get seized there should be a adversarial hearing first. Not so sure why that is such a problem.

Issue an injunction to stop the activity, hold an adversarial hearing, then seize. If the defendant fails to respond to the adversarial hearing then also proceed with the seizure. Please explain exactly why is this such a hardship for the Goverment to do?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You and I both know that the Techdirt community wouldn’t go for it. Any activity that results in the closure of a pirate site will be deemed unacceptable. This site is filled with people who think it is their duty in life to defeat Hollywood, EA, Nashville, etc. – pretty much any content creation industry that doesn’t give their content away for free.

If you don’t want to pay the price at which something is offered, don’t buy it. But don’t use it either, you are not ENTITLED to take that which you didn’t create, purchase or license.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

You and I both know that the Techdirt community wouldn’t go for it. Any activity that results in the closure of a pirate site will be deemed unacceptable. This site is filled with people who think it is their duty in life to defeat Hollywood, EA, Nashville, etc. – pretty much any content creation industry that doesn’t give their content away for free.

Most excellent broad-brush stoke there. While you are at it, why not just lump me in with those filthy Commie Liberals who want their Constitutional protections and Civil Rights preserved.

If you don’t want to pay the price at which something is offered, don’t buy it. But don’t use it either, you are not ENTITLED to take that which you didn’t create, purchase or license.

Are you on the right article? Tim points out the stupidity of this argument on the very next article.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120815/18483620066/stupidity-just-go-without-argument.shtml

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Why is a website like this deserving different treatment than a pawn shop selling mostly selling stolen goods. In my state pawn shops have been seized for selling several stolen items over an extended period. I can promise you that if there was a shop selling nothing but, they wouldn’t last a week before the sheriff was padlocking the doors.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Why is a website like this deserving different treatment than a pawn shop selling mostly selling stolen goods. In my state pawn shops have been seized for selling several stolen items over an extended period. I can promise you that if there was a shop selling nothing but, they wouldn’t last a week before the sheriff was padlocking the doors.

You misconstrue. I really don’t care at all about these particular websites. I care about the precedence of such actions.

And pawnshops rarely would involve Speech and First Amendment issues. Now if you are comparing seizing websites to seizing a printing facility, you might have a point.

RD says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“Why is a website like this deserving different treatment than a pawn shop selling mostly selling stolen goods. In my state pawn shops have been seized for selling several stolen items over an extended period. I can promise you that if there was a shop selling nothing but, they wouldn’t last a week before the sheriff was padlocking the doors.”

Because a website is, first and foremost, a de-facto vehicle for speech (see any supreme court rulings on this topic). The fact that websites are *capable* of allowing media/software/files to be downloaded does not invalidate their primary function as expressive speech. If someone chooses to misuse it also does not invalidate. A determination must be made that rules out first amendment conflicts first.

Chris-Mouse (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

When illegal drugs are seized, they are evidence of a crime. What’s more, that evidence may well disappear or be destroyed before the case ever comes to court unless seized.
A domain name is not evidence of anything other than the fact that the server for a particular domain name is located on a computer that responds to a particular IP address. What’s more, the act of seizing the domain name changes the information, thus rendering the domain name useless for any purpose.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The AC trolls would like to argue that seizing a domain “that has been used in the commission of a crime” is exactly like taking the truck that a drug dealer used to transport his illegal drugs.

The technical reality is that they’re stealing the address sign off of the mailbox and high-fiving each other for a job well done. Mission accomplished!

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Because, even if the FBI seized something that can easily be replaced, the FBI seized something owned by someone else. A something that is not relevant to a case, won’t stop the illegal activities, and is probably illegal to seize. The FBI is wasting resources on actions that do nothing except warn criminals (Assuming they are criminals).

Using the incorrect illegal drugs seizure metaphor, it’s like taking the address sign off the mailbox but leaving the drugs and criminals alone and un-monitored.

That’s why we’re bitching about how terrible this is. Not that we support piracy, we just support actions that actually do something.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Okay, I’m going to the FBI now, and telling them you allow downloads of movies off your site (assuming you have a website).
Your site is now shut down, but no biggie, right? You can just set up another one, since you’re obviously innocent.

Oops. Guess I went to the FBI again and had them shut that site down too. And the next one. And the one after that.
(By the way, you won’t get your fair day in court)

See what’s happening here? Or do you need a brain transplant, so you can have a brain capable of comprehending what’s going on?

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

There is a fundamental difference between tangible evidence (e.g. actual drugs) and intangible evidence (e.g. a file). A file a fundamentally 0s and 1s. the bytes are fundamentally the same. The onyl difference is what’s done to them.

The difference in websites is that it’s not necessarily the host who is the problem. Perhaps it is the users of a site.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

All consistent with due process.

Maybe. But not all consistent with Constitutional protections. In A Quantity of Books v. Kansas the Supreme Court said that seizures involving potentially protected speech should not be seized prior to an adversarial hearing to avoid First Amendment conflicts.

Why exactly is that such a problem? Have a hearing with both sides and then seize it if it’s deemed appropriate.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Yes…and guess who was the person who said those apps the FBI agents were downloading were infringing? The guy making the accusation.
In the case of Dajaz1, there were some specific tracks in question. The RIAA labels said those specific tracks were infringing. If I recall correctly, three were sent to Dajaz1 by the labels deliberately for marketing purposes, and the last was for a non-RIAA artist.
It’s quite clear here the FBI, at least in these matters, don’t know how to establish what evidence is actually infringing.

Anonymous Coward says:

not bad! the FBI foil terrorist plots which dont exist after planting operatives who are themselves reported to the FBI (the reporters are then put under investigation because they reported possible terrorist plots! you couldn’t make this shit up!) and the DoJ take down websites, seize assets and arrest people in other countries where they have no right to do so, under orders of the entertainment industries and senior government officials. why should anyone worry about what is happening with this? Google couldn’t have been too worried. it didn’t shut these android sites down! i suppose they had to do this to distract people from the previous balls ups and take the heat off the movie studios etc!

Thomas (profile) says:

The DOJ

is just an enforcement arm for the content industries. Their top priority is no longer protecting American citizens, but in helping businesses. Considering how much money the entertainment industry contributes yearly in “gifts” plus the number of attorneys from the content industries who now work for various parts of the DOJ. They would much rather take down some possibly infringing sites than capture some terrorists who might kill thousands of americans.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hey Masnick,

What happens when law enforcement catches a drug dealer with drugs, SEIZURE OF PROPERTY. Law enforcement organizations aren’t out on a witch hunt. Do they make some mistakes, yeah just like everyone else. You need to look at the equation from BOTH sides, would it be unfair to the creator of the apps to allow the pirated apps to CONTINUE to be offered for download? Copyright laws are written to protect the rights of the OWNER of the creative work. If someone is violating those rights seizure is the only way to stop that from happening.

Just as law enforcement shouldn’t return drugs to drug dealers waiting for their trial, or stolen cars to car thieves, they shouldn’t return web sites to content thieves.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Copyright law wasn’t written for the reason you think it was written. It was written to give incentive to creators– *not* to protect them.

The type of drugs seized by LEOs are illegal in-and-of themselves. An app, or an mp3, or a video file *by itself* isn’t illegal– it depends on if its creation was authorized. There is no real way to tell the difference between an authorized mp3 and an unauthorized one after the act of creation– so you have to witness that act of creation to know if it’s illegal; you don’t have to witness a kilo of cocaine being made to know it’s illegal.

That’s why these “well, drugs are seized” arguments are illogical. They’re seized because their mere existence is illegal. This doesn’t hold true for copyright infringement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Wrong, the TYPES of drugs are NOT always illicit, there are various classifications of drugs that can be seized. Drug dealers aren’t just pushing CRACK, they sell perscription medications as well. So are you suggesting that if a drug dealer is selling Oxycotin or Ritalin that those drugs should not be seized?

If the site isn’t seized the crime continues. The only way to stop the crime it to bring down the site or have someone scrub the site of all infringing content.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If an accused drug dealer has Oxycontin in his house, that doesn’t not mean he can have his house seized. He has to have a quantity such that it is obvious he is selling, or they have to catch him selling it.

The problem with you statement is that it assumes guilt without due process. If there is a crime, it must be proven, *then* it can be stopped. That’s how it works. That’s how you *want* it to work, trust me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

FTFY…

Copyright law was written to provide monopoly ‘rights’ to non-rights holders (aka publishers….) so that they could profit off the work of others.

If we are going to talk about the origins of the law, lets at least be honest with ourselves… nobody cared about the ‘artists’ rights when these laws were established, all they cared about was creating a ‘market’ for the re-selling of others work that they could profit off of…

And they have been trying to hold onto that monopoly ever since (by lying, stealing, misleading, bribing, accusing, fraud, and various other ‘crimes’ that have probably held back our cultural development by at least 50 years…

If not for these ‘asshats’ we could have had ‘lolcats’ 30 years ago….

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Didn’t you pay attention? No property was seized, just domain names.

Assuming for a second that the sites were truly illegal, wouldn’t seizing the servers and/or documents before warning the owners be wise? Now the owners, still assuming that they are criminals, have all the time in the world to destroy evidence. A domain name isn’t going to give the FBI shit. If the website was truly illegal, then why didn’t the FBI follow standard procedure and seize the actual evidence?

So yeah, have fun thinking this is all on the up and up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’m sure the hollycrooks would love for infringement to be a 4th amendment curtailment just like with dealing drugs. Being accused of dealing drugs here allows seizure of pretty much everything without recourse.

If individual sites are subject to seizure without due process, the same must apply to CNN and Disney.com

Beech says:

Yeah, pirate Mike, if piracy is bad, why are you so critical of complete suspension pof habeus corpus to stop sites that may allegedly be doing it?

If jaywalking is against the law, why don’t you support the cops beating jaywalkers, taking all the money out of their wallets, seizing their house and car, and indefinitely detaining them without trial? Are you trying to say jaywalking is OK?!

That One Guy (profile) says:

?Cracking down on piracy of copyrighted works ? including popular apps ? is a top priority of the Criminal Division,?

Ouch, sounds like the paymasters are cracking the whip again.

Still, it’s good to hear that all the real, verifiably harmful crimes have been stamped out, and they now have the ability to focus, and put top priority on, app piracy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

?Cracking down on piracy of copyrighted works ? including popular apps ? is a top priority of the Criminal Division,?

Ouch, sounds like the paymasters are cracking the whip again.

You are right. Those Android app developers seem to see the virtue in stopping the piracy of their creativity and sought the intervention of law enforcement.

I wonder if Google had a hand in pressuring this enforcement or not?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Like drugs?

Actually, comparing it to drugs makes complete sense. In the 80s and 90s, the government successfully won the War on Drugs.

If by “won” you mean got the majority of americans to say nothing of curtailing the 4th amendment, then no doubt or mfeagle about it.

It was a massive success for popular fascism.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Apple will be pissed...

Hmmmmm. On a sidenote people:

?Cracking down on piracy of copyrighted works ? including popular apps ? is a top priority of the Criminal Division,? said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. ?Software apps have become an increasingly essential part of our nation?s economy and creative culture, and the Criminal Division is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect the creators of these apps and other forms of intellectual property from those who seek to steal it.? [emphasis added]

and

?Criminal copyright laws apply to apps for cell phones and tablets, just as they do to other software, music and writings. These laws protect and encourage the hard work and ingenuity of software developers entering this growing and important part of our economy. We will continue to seize and shut down websites that market pirated apps, and to pursue those responsible for criminal charges if appropriate,? said U.S. Attorney Yates. [emphasis added]

So in the above two statements both a US Attorney and an Assistant AG call the Android software apps Thius absolutely negating Apple Inc’s claim to the name for their online shop.

Fan-bloody-tabulistic! Oh and as official Government endorsed report/release this can be used to show that the name “app” is both generic and ubiquitous negating any trademark action as well

I wonder if the US Govt knows that Apple now hate it with a vengeance πŸ˜‰

technomage (profile) says:

for all the AC comments, we need a license plate cover with the “seized” tshirt motif.

officer: “you have drugs in your front seat, I’m going to have to seize your license plate”

dealer: “NOOOOOOO…I paid good money for the plate CRK2KDS”

officer: “your loss..we might get in touch in a decade or two to take to to trial, and try not to get rid of the drugs first please, so we actually have evidence when you go to court…maybe…someday…..got any donuts?”

[mystery machine/eagle mobile drives off with eagles instead of plates]

Overcast (profile) says:

All this other debate aside..

It’s obvious they (government/law enforcement) can’t enforce the law properly, as we see a clear violation of due process – which is also ‘law’ – right? So they are breaking one in order to conceptually enforce another? How does that work in a society that’s supposedly governed by ‘the rule of law’?

“The rule of law” is **clearly** breaking down, government can’t be bothered to follow even *their own laws* now – so what’s left is/will be defined as a tyranny, which, historically speaking – will most certainly fall apart eventually – like all others have, with no exceptions. But it’ll be different this time, right? (Go use that concept in the stock market, hehe… )

So there’s no sense in trying to enforce these laws, as this type of enforcement will destroy the system it’s trying to protect anyway.

So why are they trying to enforce anything at all, if they are breaking other laws in the process?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

as we see a clear violation of due process – which is also ‘law’ – right? So they are breaking one in order to conceptually enforce another? How does that work in a society that’s supposedly governed by ‘the rule of law’?

I don’t suppose you’d care to cite a case where an actual judge has deemed the seizure of a website in similar circumstances to be a violation of due process. BTW, you should take time to look over the ProIP Act where such authority is derived from.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

There’s a case mentioned in the very article that shows an instance where due process was clearly violated.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/12/ice-admits-months-long-seizure-of-music-blog-was-a-mistake/

Plus I don’t see why you think judges themselves can’t become corrupt. So far there only seems to be a handful of judges ICE is using to make these rulings. You’re pretty naive to think that if a government agency has no problem breaking the laws, they couldn’t find a judge more than willing to do so either.

Time to call me a douchebag because you literally have no other argument but appeal to authority.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

First, there is not even an allegation that what the government actually seized ?the domain name? is itself protected by copyright Nor could it be. The copyright office rejects attempts to register words and short phrases.

It’s seized because it’s property used to commit copyright infringement. Says so right underneath the eagles. Whether the domain name itself is copyrighted is irrelevant.

Second, and more fundamentally, to the extent that there may be some irreconciliable conflict between a statute enacted by Congress under Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, and the prohibition upon Congress under the First Amendment, then it is the duty of the court to apply the general rule that amendment must govern the amended.

The Court has said the definitional balance between copyright and the First Amendment comes from the idea/expression dichotomy and fair use. So what? What’s your point? That’s got nothing to do with this.

In the leading case on prior restraints, Near v Minnesota (1931), Mr Chief Justice Hughes quoted Blackstone:
“The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications…
(Emphasis added).

And that’s applicable here how? There is no restraint with these seizures. People are free to say whatever they want.

In the American understanding of the First Amendment, there has been some debate over whether the narrow, Blackstonian view should prevail, or a broader more generous view of free speech and free press. In recent decades, that latter, better view has held?but that argument is immaterial: Both sides agree that First Amendment lays a heavy presumption against prior restraints.

Yep, but irrelevant.

If the copyright clause purports to give the government the power to seize expression whenever the government yells, ?Copyright!? then that purported power has been amended away.

No expression has been seized. A piece of property that there was evidence to show facilitated criminal infringement has been seized. That the property was also used for protected expression, which with these seizures has not been shown, is irrelevant.

Do you work for the EFF? ‘Cause your arguments sound like the nonsense they spout.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Nor does you saying that it is due process make it so. And Mike isn’t “declaring” anything, he is stating his opinion on his interpretation of the law. Just like you are.

Where’s the argument that it violates due process? I see him whining about his misunderstandings of prior restraint. Gee, Gwiz, if he doesn’t even know the difference between the two, maybe he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Typical Techdirt idiocy. Mike, working backwards, declares the seizures violative of due process. When called out, he spouts First Amendment doctrine. And idiots like you drink it up. Classic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Snorezville, dude. Yes, prior restraints are bad. These aren’t restraints. What speech is being restrained (i.e., enjoined or subject to a licensing scheme)? None. Piece of property used for crime got seized. That’s not a restraint on speech, even if the property is used for speech. They can say whatever they want, they just can’t used this particular piece of property. And you’re looking at the obscenity cases just like Mike. And of course, just like Mike, you don’t apparently understand the *reasoning* of why prior restraints are an issue there. That reasoning doesn’t apply when it’s IP.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Well aren’t you the fucking cunt of the day.

Your bullshit soapbox broke so you’re stuck here now?

Personally, I think the FBI et al are the douchebags.

“Woe is my business model. The free market is breaking me. My 1000 year copyright race is hampered.

You’re a fucking one trick prick. Pussy.

Oooooo, a TD keyboard tough guy. You might be able to intimidate the boys down at the LARP league with that, but I doubt you’ve accomplished anything more here than making yourself a figure of fun.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

When does that happen? When you are “ticketed” for wreckless driving or DUI or the license is expired. They don’t take your license for running a stop sign unless you have warrants out or are obviously a danger on the road. They’ll take your car too, since you can’t be trusted to drive it.

Even then, you have a right to a hearing. You just gotta take the bus.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

If you don’t want to pay the price at which something is offered, don’t buy it. But don’t use it either, you are not ENTITLED to take that which you didn’t create, purchase or license.

Actually, since copyright exists to serve the public domain, I think we are in fact entitled to these works. Problem is, copyright has deviated so far from its originally intended purpose, that these works will not enter the public domain until long after I’m dead. It would seem piracy is Robin Hood of the digital age.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

In this very thread I made it clear that the sites look questionable and explained what I would argue is the more appropriate legal process for taking them down.

You don’t have enough information to say if the sites are illegal, but you then argue that it violates due process and is a prior restraint. Funny how your lack of information doesn’t stop you from deciding that it’s unconstitutional. Almost like you’re just working backwards. LMAO! You clearly are just defending pirates, which is all that you ever do. Just because you admit that the site my be illegal doesn’t mean that you’re not at the same time defending them. You’re way more obvious than you apparently think you are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

And you do realize too that if the seizures were prior restraints (which they’re not), then a preliminary injunction would be a restraint too (which it’s also not). Funny thing is, the Copyright Act permits preliminary injunctive relief. Funny that. If enforcement of copyright implicated the First Amendment, like you erroneously say it does as in the obscenity cases, then preliminary injunctions would be prior restraints. Fact is though, such injunctions happen all the time as a matter of course, and it’s not a prior restraint.

Oh look, more case law:

Following the logic in Arcara, forfeiture may be ordered for assets used in, to promote, or obtained from a criminal violation, whether or not these assets “incidentally” happen to include expressive materials. Under such logic, the forfeiture is not “prior restraint.”

Am. Library Ass’n v. Thornburgh, 713 F. Supp. 469, 486-87 (D.D.C. 1989).

Weird. It’s almost like I’ve researched the shit of this and have a Word document with tons of cites ready to go.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hey Masnick!!! How do your friends at Google and developer buddies feel about this? Obviously, since you and your flock of parrots believe that these seizures are only done at the behest of the corporate beneficiaries- I can only conclude that Google and/or Android software developers were the force behind these seizures. How ironic, some of the mightiest forces aligned against SOPA are now going to the FBI to protect their intellectual property by seizing websites. Weren’t these the guys wringing their hands about censorship just 7 months ago? I guess they think it’s not censorship when the website is trafficking in their product.

Wally says:

Maybe legitimate

Appnet’s takedown may have been legitimate.

http://www.droidxforums.com/forum/droid-x-general-discussion/11265-do-not-use-app-applanet.html

I’ll keep posting links as I find them.

However, given Google’s recent behavior toward competing markets (almost as bad as Apple, close, but not as bad) I wouldn’t be surprised that if it turned out not to be legitimate, that Google was behind it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Oh look, even more case law:

Defendants argue that this injunction is overly broad and represents an unconstitutional prior restraint on freedom of the press. We have repeatedly rejected First Amendment challenges to injunctions from copyright infringement on the ground that First Amendment concerns are protected by and coextensive with the fair use doctrine. See Twin Peaks, 996 F.2d at 1378; New Era Pubs. Int’l, ApS v. Henry Holt & Co., 873 F.2d 576, 584 (2d Cir.1989) (?[T]he fair use doctrine encompasses all claims of first amendment in the copyright field.?); Wainwright, 558 F.2d at 95 (?Conflicts between interests protected by the first amendment and the copyright laws thus far have been *75 resolved by application of the fair use doctrine.?). We have already determined that, as to the copyright claim, Comline’s infringing abstracts were not fair uses of the Nikkei articles, and accordingly we reject defendants’ First Amendment challenge.

Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc. v. Comline Bus. Data, Inc., 166 F.3d 65, 74-75 (2d Cir. 1999).

It’s almost like I have a law degree and you don’t. It’s almost like I know what I’m talking about and you can’t tell the difference between the First and Fifth Amendments. Tell me again how you’re the law stud and I’m an idiot. Weird! Why so quiet, Mike? I can’t wait to hear your due process argument. Can’t wait. Trust me, I’ll understand whatever you say. LOL! Do you really believe that anyone believes you don’t want to talk about it because *I’m* too dumb to understand? What a cop out. Obviously you don’t want me to school you on that as well. You’re a one-trick pony, Mike. And dishonest as the day is long.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Because the law doesn’t require it. Because when the issue is NOT that the so-called “speech” is at issue; but instead the matter is one of criminal infringement of copyrighted content and the extraordinary protection afforded unpopular, objectionable, political, religious or dissenting free speech need not be applied.

Your side totally falls down when it tries to stretch the legitimate aims of the First Amendment to protect the unlawful marketing copyrighted content.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

We have repeatedly rejected First Amendment challenges to injunctions from copyright infringement on the ground that First Amendment concerns are protected by and coextensive with the fair use doctrine. See Twin Peaks, 996 F.2d at 1378; New Era Pubs. Int’l, ApS v. Henry Holt & Co., 873 F.2d 576, 584 (2d Cir.1989) (?[T]he fair use doctrine encompasses all claims of first amendment in the copyright field.?); Wainwright, 558 F.2d at 95 (?Conflicts between interests protected by the first amendment and the copyright laws thus far have been *75 resolved by application of the fair use doctrine.?).

That’s the second circuit in 1999 making the exact same mistake that Justice Ginsburg pointed out in Eldred (2003):

We recognize that the D. C. Circuit spoke too broadly when it declared copyrights “categorically immune from challenges under the First Amendment.” 239 F. 3d, at 375.

Copyright law is not categorically immune to first amendment challenge. The second circuit is overruled.

Now Justice Ginsbug did go on to say that when Congress has not altered the traditional contours of copyright, then further first amendment scrutiny is unneccessary.

But these domain seizures are not within the traditional contours of copyright.

First, the domain name system is relatively new: The courts must carefully scrutinize the application of copyright law to this new technology.

Second, the seizure of a domain name is not at all like an injunction against an allegedly infringing item. The government can point to no substantial similiarity between the accused domain name and whatever works may have been infringed. The government does even allege that accused domain name is a ?copy? of some other name.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Hey Masnick!!! How do your friends at Google and developer buddies feel about this? Obviously, since you and your flock of parrots believe that these seizures are only done at the behest of the corporate beneficiaries- I can only conclude that Google and/or Android software developers were the force behind these seizures. How ironic, some of the mightiest forces aligned against SOPA are now going to the FBI to protect their intellectual property by seizing websites. Weren’t these the guys wringing their hands about censorship just 7 months ago? I guess they think it’s not censorship when the website is trafficking in their product.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“Wait… so all those ‘memberships’ that I purchased where I received ‘free’ merchandise are really dirty rotten pirates….”

Dumbass. If they have the rights to give the stuff away, then they can. But if you are giving away stuff you don’t have thr rights to, then it’s a problem.

Intentionally misunderstanding – a true Techdirt method for ignoring reality.

You can sit on the bench next to Marcus and Paul on the moron side the discussion.

Wally says:

Re:

I give you my legitimate use of a comment where I am simply trying to be on the same page as you are my dear sir. The following is not at all meant for ammunition towards you, I just want to be on the same page.

Before I remotely start on my comment I would like to add that there has been so much arguing and bickering and trolling that my iPod (which is iPhone 4 equivalent without cellular antenna, GPS or any vibrating parts) keeps crashing its web browser due to the huge response over the article. I am forced to use my computer so good luck to all with my grammar…at least my spelling will be correct.

I am not here to call you out, I just want to see if we are on the same page. I understand in full your views on this matter but I ask that you please hear me out if you can. I am just looking for some common ground as i have with other writers and users of TechDirt. My other intent is that you have an alternative point of view. While it will seem like at times what I am about to say may seem like I am trying to troll you, my only intent is to give you an alternate perspective…so I do agree with some things you say, just not on the whole.

Mike, the article is good. I agree with most of it. It exposes injustices of the DOJ and the FBI quite well. However, I am certain in my mind that the take down of Applanet was legitimate.

Why those DoubleMySpeed websites haven’t been taken out is beyond me though….onward to my point….

When the FBI and the DOJ are alone in the take-down of a website, it is usually for consumer fraud. I did some digging about in regards to Applanet to find that the apps being sold were not only NOT getting the money earned to the creators of those works, they were distributing older versions of the software being sold as “up to date” compared to Google Play. Amongst those files were apps that had been pulled from Google Play that had caused viruses to be spread around.

While I am all for alternate methods of content distribution and/or sales (GoodOldGames, Steam, Macintosh Garden (Free legacy Abandoned Mac OS software/games))even if you have to use Bit-Torrent to get the content (OCremix.org), I do not think it is right to not pay developers of Apps of their earnings or creative works….Google Play and iTunes alike…when there is a price on the item at hand. Applanet made no such contributions to the developers.

The first smoking gun I saw on the Applanet page was the PayPal Button, which is almost ALWAYS consistent on almost EVERY page i have seen the icon on. I have never seen the Word Donate in Droid font below the word “PayPal” or any associating fonts but the one default PayPal always uses with their icon.

Second Smoking Gun was this text:
“Access Paid Apps for FREE!

Applanet’s massive database contains more than 14,000 Android applications. You have access to the latest version of both free and paid applications found in the Android Market and even some you can’t find and will not need to pay for anything! Applanet is your one-stop alternative app market.”

Think about how it was worded. “You have access to the latest version of both paid and free applications on the market”
Given the site’s “Donation” button and that wording, they use the money to buy ONE copy of the app and distribute it many times to make it “free” and “you don’t pay a thing”.

http://web.archive.org/web/20110629034336/http://www.applanet.net/

Then we have the consumer fraud side of things (which I believe the ICE was not involved in the take-down of this website) where i managed to find a complaint here:

http://www.droidxforums.com/forum/droid-x-general-discussion/11265-do-not-use-app-applanet.html

and here:
http://androidforums.com/android-lounge/310926-applanet-net-legit-no.html

So to review for everyone else what I just wrote:
They take your money through “Donations” and are not claiming not-for-proffit.
They buy one App and distribute many times as well as claim it to be up to date and the developers don’t see a dime of their work.
Has an illegitimate donation button From PayPal where the wording, the font, and the icon are all completely different from the usual PayPal donation button.

That screams more of illegitimate use and distribution more than it does piracy.

Mike, I think you for your time.

Wally says:

My two cents (yes I finaly logged in)

Before I remotely start on my comment I would like to add that there has been so much arguing and bickering and trolling that my iPod (which is iPhone 4 equivalent without cellular antenna, GPS or any vibrating parts) keeps crashing its web browser due to the huge response over the article. I am forced to use my computer so good luck to all with my grammar…at least my spelling will be correct.

Mike Mansick, I am not here to call you out, I just want to see if we are on the same page. I understand in full your views on this matter but I ask that you please hear me out if you can. I am just looking for some common ground as I have with other writers and users of TechDirt. My other intent is to give you an alternative point of view.

Mike, the article is good. I agree with most of it. It exposes injustices of the DOJ and the FBI quite well. However, I am certain in my mind that the take down of Applanet was legitimate.

Why those DoubleMySpeed websites haven’t been taken out is beyond me though….onward to my point….

When the FBI and the DOJ are alone in the take-down of a website, it is usually for consumer fraud. I did some digging about in regards to Applanet to find that the apps being sold were not only NOT getting the money earned to the creators of those works, they were distributing older versions of the software being sold as “up to date” compared to Google Play. Amongst those files were apps that had been pulled from Google Play that had caused viruses to be spread around.

While I am all for alternate methods of content distribution and/or sales (GoodOldGames, Steam, Macintosh Garden (Free legacy Abandoned Mac OS software/games))even if you have to use Bit-Torrent to get the content (OCremix.org), I do not think it is right to not pay developers of Apps of their earnings or creative works….Google Play and iTunes alike…when there is a price on the item at hand. Applanet made no such contributions to the developers.

The first smoking gun I saw on the Applanet page was the PayPal Button, which is almost ALWAYS consistent on almost EVERY page i have seen the icon on. I have never seen the Word Donate in Droid font below the word “PayPal” or any associating fonts but the one default PayPal always uses with their icon.

Second Smoking Gun was this text:
“Access Paid Apps for FREE!

Applanet’s massive database contains more than 14,000 Android applications. You have access to the latest version of both free and paid applications found in the Android Market and even some you can’t find and will not need to pay for anything! Applanet is your one-stop alternative app market.”

Think about how it was worded. “You have access to the latest version of both paid and free applications on the market”
Given the site’s “Donation” button and that wording, they use the money to buy ONE copy of the app and distribute it many times to make it “free” and “you don’t pay a thing”.

http://web.archive.org/web/20110629034336/http://www.applanet.net/

Then we have the consumer fraud side of things (which I believe the ICE was not involved in the take-down of this website) where i managed to find a complaint here:

http://www.droidxforums.com/forum/droid-x-general-discussion/11265-do-not-use-app-applanet.html

and here:
http://androidforums.com/android-lounge/310926-applanet-net-legit-no.html

So to review for everyone else what I just wrote:
They take your money through “Donations” and are not claiming not-for-proffit.
They buy one App and distribute many times as well as claim it to be up to date and the developers don’t see a dime of their work.
Has an illegitimate donation button From PayPal where the wording, the font, and the icon are all completely different from the usual PayPal donation button.

That screams more of illegitimate use and distribution more than it does piracy.

Mike, I think you for your time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“I never said they were “bastions of free speech” just like I don’t believe that porn producers are bastions of free speech. Unlike you, however, I recognize that even people we dislike and speech we dislike, gets protected under the law.”

Yet, you are faced with the courts, which have ruled before that some free speech may get hurt in the process of stopping illegal or unprotected speech from occurring.

Let’s use an example. A literary work, perhaps a great novel or a political opinion, 100 pages long, printed as a book. If that book contained a child porn image every 5 pages, would you think that the books should be seized before trial, or should they be left on sale? What if there was only one image, and it was “questionable”? Where do you draw the line?

Clearly, seizing the material before a court case and stopping the sale would occur, even though there is an incredibly huge amount of free speech being stopped.

“You’re falsely narrowing it down to “obscenity.” “

Actually, what he is doing it showing you why things happen that you don’t like. You may not like sites that are profiting from piracy being shut down, but honestly, what are the options? Leaving the site open means that the illegal acts continue unabated, which flies in the face of common sense.

We do not arrest drug dealers and let them keep their crack and money for now, until they are found guilty. We arrest them, we seize their property (seemingly illegal, but not truly so until proven in court) and they are either detained until trial or bailed out on restrictive terms. We don’t just let them walk until we have a conviction.

When you pay attention to the criminal side (rather than civil side) cases, you would understand that seizure before judgement, the sealing of businesses, and the like are NOT unusual. Someone selling counterfeit DVDs at a flea market is very likely to have their entire inventory seized, as well as potentially the car used to transport them, the bags, and the like, and all held until the trial is completed. That can take years.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“Okay, let’s make this simple: show me where I said that the free speech argument was a complete shield against legal action?”

Let’s go back to the seizure of the rap music “blogs” that appeared mostly to copyright cesspools, full of “user submitted content” and other fine stuff.

Your arguments there were that there was a lot of free speech being stopped, so seizing of the sites was too much. You were certainly saying there that the amount of free speech stopped was excessive compared to the unproven amount of copyright violations.

Your point there was pretty much until the court case had gone through and the copyright violations 100% proven, that there should be no seizure.

There is no right in the constitution to continue to operate an illegal business.

Wally says:

Re:

The article is good. I agree with most of it. It exposes injustices of the DOJ and the FBI quite well. However, I am certain in my mind that the take down of Applanet was legitimate.

Why those DoubleMySpeed websites haven’t been taken out is beyond me though….onward to my point….

When the FBI and the DOJ are alone in the take-down of a website, it is usually for consumer fraud. I did some digging about in regards to Applanet to find that the apps being sold were not only NOT getting the money earned to the creators of those works, they were distributing older versions of the software being sold as “up to date” compared to Google Play. Amongst those files were apps that had been pulled from Google Play that had caused viruses to be spread around.

While I am all for alternate methods of content distribution and/or sales (GoodOldGames, Steam, Macintosh Garden (Free legacy Abandoned Mac OS software/games))even if you have to use Bit-Torrent to get the content (OCremix.org), I do not think it is right to not pay developers of Apps of their earnings or creative works….Google Play and iTunes alike…when there is a price on the item at hand. Applanet made no such contributions to the developers.

The first smoking gun I saw on the Applanet page was the PayPal Button, which is almost ALWAYS consistent on almost EVERY page i have seen the icon on. I have never seen the Word Donate in Droid font below the word “PayPal” or any associating fonts but the one default PayPal always uses with their icon.

Second Smoking Gun was this text:
“Access Paid Apps for FREE!

Applanet’s massive database contains more than 14,000 Android applications. You have access to the latest version of both free and paid applications found in the Android Market and even some you can’t find and will not need to pay for anything! Applanet is your one-stop alternative app market.”

Think about how it was worded. “You have access to the latest version of both paid and free applications on the market”
Given the site’s “Donation” button and that wording, they use the money to buy ONE copy of the app and distribute it many times to make it “free” and “you don’t pay a thing”.

Then we have the consumer fraud side of things (which I believe the ICE was not involved in the take-down of this website) where i managed to find a complaint here:

http://www.droidxforums.com/forum/droid-x-general-discussion/11265-do-not-use-app-applanet.html

and here:
http://androidforums.com/android-lounge/310926-applanet-net-legit-no.html

So to review for everyone else what I just wrote:
They take your money through “Donations” and are not claiming not-for-proffit.
They buy one App and distribute many times as well as claim it to be up to date and the developers don’t see a dime of their work.
Has an illegitimate donation button From PayPal where the wording, the font, and the icon are all completely different from the usual PayPal donation button.

That screams more of illegitimate use. Look at the WayBack Machine link givine in the article to see what i mean.

Wally (profile) says:

Smoking Gun

Looking back to the links provided on the article I found a smoking gun or two on Applanet’s website.

Take a good look at the PayPal Donation button. I saw this and had to double take for a moment. On a PayPal donation the button usually should say just “PayPal”. PayPal over the word Donation (the latter in the Droid logo font)is never used.

Then take the words on the site itself:
“Applanet’s massive database contains more than 14,000 Android applications. You have access to the latest version of both free and paid applications found in the Android Market and even some you can’t find and will not need to pay for anything! Applanet is your one-stop alternative app market.’

So the big question is, once they buy the app from the android market and slap the free tag on it and distribute it as such….where does that lay legally? Grey area at best. But is it consumer fraud? In my view, it is. Some of the apps were just older versions of the apps being offered on Google Play.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re:

Your side totally falls down when it tries to stretch the legitimate aims of the First Amendment to protect the unlawful marketing copyrighted content.

Not sure what “side” you are referring to. If a website is breaking the law. Prosecute it to your little heart’s content. (Although, as a taxpayer, I prefer you don’t use my tax dollars to do so)

Making sure beforehand that protected speech doesn’t get caught up in such an action, seems like a prudent, American thing to do to me, whether current law requires it or not. I really don’t understand your desire to trample on the Constitution.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

That’s the second circuit in 1999 making the exact same mistake that Justice Ginsburg pointed out in Eldred (2003):

We recognize that the D. C. Circuit spoke too broadly when it declared copyrights “categorically immune from challenges under the First Amendment.” 239 F. 3d, at 375.

Not at all. The D.C. Circuit said that copyright was immune from First Amendment challenges. The 2d Cir., on the other hand, is clearly recognizing that fair use limits copyright, i.e., that copyright is *not* immune to First Amendment challenges. So you completely misunderstand the point. Nor is that even relevant here because fair use (nor the idea/expression dichotomy) is in play. Unless either of those two are present, the First Amendment is not invoked. And under Techdirt-approved logic, fair use (or lack thereof) is simple to determine.

Copyright law is not categorically immune to first amendment challenge. The second circuit is overruled.

Nope. The Supreme Court agreed that fair use limits copyright. 2d Cir. affirmed on the point.

Now Justice Ginsbug did go on to say that when Congress has not altered the traditional contours of copyright, then further first amendment scrutiny is unneccessary.

But these domain seizures are not within the traditional contours of copyright.

First, the domain name system is relatively new: The courts must carefully scrutinize the application of copyright law to this new technology.

Second, the seizure of a domain name is not at all like an injunction against an allegedly infringing item. The government can point to no substantial similiarity between the accused domain name and whatever works may have been infringed. The government does even allege that accused domain name is a ?copy? of some other name.

The traditional contours are simply fair use and the idea/expression dichotomy, neither of which is applicable here. You might want to reread Eldred and Golan, since you don’t appear to know what the traditional contours are.

And you seem to misunderstand that the domain names aren’t being seized because they are infringing. They are being seized because they are the instrumentality of infringement. That’s partly why the comparison to the seizure of allegedly obscene materials fails. It’s not the seizure of materials, it’s the seizure of property used to facilitate infringement. A better analogy to obscenity would be to say it’s the seizure of the presses used to print obscenity, not the obscene materials themselves. It’s an instrumentality.

Wally (profile) says:

Re:

Mike, I think you’re feeding the problem when you respond to a few of those particular AC’s….let alone like that. Best thing to do is just hit the report button and move on. It doesn’t help to feed a sock puppet/bot/troll more reason or logic because they will just use it as ammo to learn more of our human language.

Stay cool πŸ™‚ im on your side.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Someone demonstrates that you don’t know what you’re talking about, and that’s your response. You’re such a winner.

Nope. I explained to him that these aren’t even restraints because no one is prohibited from saying anything. There is no injunction, there is no licensing scheme. Prior restraints are content-based restrictions. Copyright laws are laws of general applicability that are content-neutral. No speech is being restrained because of its viewpoint or subject matter. No speech is even being restrained. I know you don’t understand any of this, but big boys who have actual law degrees look at the actual law and draw conclusions. We don’t work backwards and latch on to anyone’s argument because we like the conclusion no matter how terrible the reasoning. I know, that’s not your style. Can’t help you there, bud.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re:

And Rojadirecta was back up and running on another domain name within days.

Yes, they were.

First, the courts have said that doesn’t make the tiniest difference when determining if constitutional rights were violated – the government cannot seize one newspaper and say no rights were violated because there happens to be another newspaper in town.

Second, if seizing the websites is completely ineffective in stopping or even minimally inconveniencing those committing copyright infringement, and also raises significant constitutional issues, then why the hell is the government doing it? It is just a waste of resources on every possible level.

Wally (profile) says:

Re:

“Techdirt in a nutshell. You don’t like what someone says or if you don’t agree with it, report it and move on. Whatever you do, don’t engage that person or try and understand their point of view. Report it! You fit right in, Wally.”

I find it hilariuosly ironic that you complain of people reporting you and your
sock puppets because all you ever do is harass and claim it a valid
argument. I disagree with Mike at times
but that does not mean I constantly hound him. I try to at least
give a logical, well thought out, quick to the point argument counterpoints.
All I ever see in your comments to Mike are:
“Derp derp derp derp derp pirate Mike derp derp derp
copyright law your view is wrong I’m right because
derp derp derp derp.”

Get off your high horse. You’re nothing but a troll.

Wally says:

Re:

No trouble at all πŸ™‚ Sometimes controlled fires sometimes fun because we can see how thin and long the posts get. *thinking face* I wonder how long it would take to get 1 character per row in a set of replies….

“It was a little experiment. I wanted to see how they acted if I responded *exactly* the way they do. I even tried to mimic some of their exact language choices. And they flipped out.”

I’ve grown to appreciate the irony in it πŸ™‚

Ninja (profile) says:

Re:

O rly? So I take it the owners of those sites are already being questioned and properly prosecuted? We also know exactly where these people are from and it’s being all done within their jurisdiction, right?

Wrong, they went after the domains only as far as we can see right now. As details on the case unfold we might see there was due process from the beginning. But as Mike said:

Perhaps there are more details, but given the sketchy details of earlier seizures, I’d wonder.

I’m wondering too and I will not assume anything before more details come. Unlike you.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re:

I thought it was weird from you. But It was a pretty interesting experiment. There’s no end to their torllish behavior. The best course is indeed to ignore. But still, the replies to their clueless comments were too damn enlightening. So in the end while it may clutter the comments there are times we should go along with the trolling. I left this discussion with much more knowledge.

bratwurzt (profile) says:

Re:

Yes. Really. Oh, you meant it as a rhetorical question? Too bad – not going to feed the troll with explaining his own logical fallacies.

“Why is this situation any different?”

I don’t know – maybe because google does not own any copyrights on android apps? link to my comment

Also problems with SOPA were elsewhere – hindering free speech among others.

Just because irony is hard to grasp you shouldn’t use it whenever you want to be seen as smart. Doesn’t work that way – it is actually counterproductive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“We’ll see what the courts decide. Remember when you threw a temper tantrum insisting Righthaven was legit? Yeah. Good times.”

Actually, what is funny here is that you have confused a bunch of different AC posters as this one, and you are tilting at windmills as a result. It’s rare to see you lose your cool like this.

As for the quote, perhaps you should do that too, wait for the courts to decide. For the moment, things appear to be legal because nobody is in front of a judge trying to get relief.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“Objection; Conjecture.”

it’s why I started with “I think”. Only Mike knows for sure, and at this point, he seems to be working really, really hard to cover for what was clearly a major blowup.

The funny part? He still didn’t address the points, he just glossed over them and then blandly said “the courts will decide”.

This goes down as a truly classic thread. Mike finally lost it and actually showed a bit of his true colors, enough that it even disturbed the sheeple!

Cory of PC (profile) says:

Re:

I… How… *sigh* Screw it, you’re blind. If I were to get a mirror, you’ll probably see Mike there and will continue your blind rampage.

I really can’t come up with anything to describe how idiotically dumb you are! After reading all of your posts, I believe that you’re blind and that’s it. I can’t help you with your problem, other than to tell you to please stop and take a moment to rest. You’re not going to get Mike to change his position if you continue to spout utter nonsense and ad homs, or otherwise behaving like a 12 year old. If you (and/or maybe the other critics of TD) were to behave like an adult, then maybe he’ll take you a little more seriously. But since that isn’t going to happen, you’re going to behave like a troll until this site is offline and you have no place to complain (unless you find another site to troll.)

So, I’m asking you nicely, please leave and go back to your dark cave. Perhaps the light is too bright for you and maybe the darkness will help you see better.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Ummm… I’m not sure about the copyright angle but clearly they have a financial interest as many of the apps are offered for a fee on Google Play.

http://www.informationweek.com/government/policy/android-app-piracy-leads-feds-to-seize-w/240006013

“Google has tried to limit the unauthorized copying of Android apps through the introduction of its Android licensing service in 2010 and its implementation of device-specific encryption for paid apps sold through Google Play in June. In July, author Godfrey Nolan said Google needs to extend encryption to all Android apps due to the ease with which they can be decompiled. ”

Also problems with SOPA were elsewhere – hindering free speech among others.

Really? You’re saying there are no free speech issues in seizing these Android app sites? Glad to hear it.

Wally (profile) says:

Re:

That’s the purpose of my pointing it out. Two ways can stop them with or without reason I can tell you both.

Without Reasoning Skills:
Point it out to them that you see them as a troll and nothing more than that. I usually never get back talk because I’m either really mean in my logic, or try to be nice as possible. I make my point clear so it’s extremely difficult for them to rebuttal in trollish. My end goal is to open up and establish dialouge and team them the moment they use a personal attack….this is called positive reinforcement because I give them an incentive to calm down. I find that most trolls respond (or stop responding) when you make your mean point clear. I myself have established myself to be mean and downright nasty to a troll of that level.

With Logic And Reasoning:
A troll is a troll is a troll at certain levels. The more you try to reason with them, the more ammunition they get. Be harsh, but kind about it. If they keep going insult them back but not in their way. Be firm, stay nice, don’t argue about their lack of logic that’s how they suck you in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“I may disagree with what you say, but I respect your right to be punished for it.” is a quote on my boss’s wall….

which is a knock-off from the more common, “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to my death your right to say it.”

It’s easy to stand up for things we believe in, it’s more difficult to stand up for principles when we know the other party ‘MAY’ ‘ALLEGEDLY’ be guilty of some crime…

Government Censorship and making citizens ‘criminals’ for common activities (sharing things we purchased) are the first steps down the slippery slope….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

WTF does a real estate lawyer know about Imaginary Property?

Real estate lawyer? Where’d you get that? And what does IP have to do with due process?

Fact is, I’ve taken numerous classes in constitutional law and I have a law degree, so the notion that I wouldn’t understand Mike’s due process argument is just laughable on its face. I’ve researched the due process issues with these seizures extensively.

Obviously Mike is just being his usual, slimy self. Too desperate, dumb, and sad to have a normal, human conversation about anything piracy-related. He really showed his true colors in this thread, attacking his critics like a little whiny child. It’s hilarious to watch the “real Mike” come out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

How is having the grounds for seizure of a website double-checked by a court beforehand an “extraordinary protection”? It’s part of the whole checks and balances thing. Things like this have to go through the courts first, because otherwise dajaz1 would have a lot more company.

Note that this means allowing the accused to tell their side of the story. Why shouldn’t the owners of the site be able to defend themselves before having the website taken down? Why should the government be able to take down any site without warning based on a mere accusation? Because the site, in the course of providing its service, “harms” certain corporate interests, who by the way out-budget this website by orders of magnitude?

Whether or not the site owners actually did break the law is irrelevant. They are innocent until proven guilty.