If Newly Seized Domains Were Purely Dedicated To Infringement, Why Was Kanye West Using One?

from the questions,-questions dept

The details of Homeland Security's domain name seizures keeps looking more and more questionable. Early on, people were scratching their heads over the seizure of torrent-finder.com, which was a pure search engine, but the deeper that people are looking into the domains involving copyright claims (many of the seized domains were apparently about trademark/counterfeiting rather than copyright), the more questionable the whole situation looks. Torrent-finder was just the start. Two more of the seized sites, RapGodfathers and OnSmash are popular hip hop blogs. In fact, both sites note that labels and artists regularly send them their own music, and both sites note that they comply with the DMCA in taking down files based on takedown notices. Even more damning, top artists like Kanye West clearly appreciate sites like this. Just a few weeks ago, Kanye West linked to OnSmash via his Twitter feed.

It really looks like Homeland Security/ICE may have seriously screwed up here. Whether or not seizing domains in general like this is even legal is an open legal question -- and blatantly seizing domains with tons of legit content that the industry and artists regularly used themselves seems like a test case the government doesn't want just waiting to happen. Hopefully the folks behind both blogs have already gotten in touch with various civil liberties/free speech lawyers who can help make them into perfect test cases to show that the government can't just seize web sites without due process.

Filed Under: blogs, copyright, domain names, free speech, seizures


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  1. icon
    average_joe (profile), 1 Dec 2010 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I must have missed this part in the story. Was there proof that this was happening? Does it even require proof-- or like everything else regarding IP, does it only require an allegation?

    I think all we know is that the prosecutor presented probable cause to a judge and the judge signed the warrant. Exactly what proof their investigation uncovered is anyone's guess.

    I was under the impression (from what little I know of Viacom v. Youtube) that knowing there is infringing material in the meta sense (e.g., Youtube almost definitely has infringing material on it right now, but I'm not sure what) is not enough to lose your safe harbors. I thought it was determined that the service provider needed to know about specific instances of infringement and do nothing to lose those safe harbors. Further, if this site did adhere to DMCA takedown requests (the only *real* and legally binding way to know if something you host is infringing) then it stands to reason that they still have their safe harbors, and are therefore, as the poster you replied to said, 100% legal.

    Am I incorrect in my logic and/or understanding of these things?


    I think the argument simply is that the sites were being used to commit criminal copyright infringement, and the safe harbors do not protect criminals.

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