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), 30 Nov 2010 @ 5:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And, in answer to your "it happens all the time" quote, you're wrong. *Physical* property does get seized, but the rules are that it's only supposed to be if it's evidence that might get destroyed. Going beyond that (as does happen) is not what the law allows.

    I don't think that's accurate. 18 U.S.C. 2323, which was amended a couple of years ago with the PRO IP Act, allows for civil forfeiture of "any property used, or intended to be used, in any manner or part to commit or facilitate the commission of" a list of offenses, include criminal copyright infringement. Nowhere does the statute require that the property seized be "evidence that might get destroyed." I think it's true that traditionally it was such property that was forfeited, but I don't think you could call it a "rule" by any means.

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