ICE Admits To Returning Domain While RIAA Threatens Dajaz1 With More Legal Actions
from the oh-really? dept
ICE spokesman Ross Feinstein told Ars that "the government concluded that the appropriate and just result was to decline to pursue judicial forfeiture."If the "appropriate and just result" was not to pursue forfeiture... then it seems quite reasonable to ask if the actual "appropriate and just" thing would have been to have never seized the domain in the first place. Or to have given it back when asked.
So what took so long? Feinstin wouldn't elaborate on why the domain was seized or why the government had changed its mind.
Meanwhile, we'd already noted a weird statmenent from the RIAA on the subject, but the organization issued a more detailed response to Jon Healey from the LA Times:
We understand that a decision was made that this particular site did not merit a criminal forfeiture proceeding. We respect that government agencies must consider a range of technical issues when exercising their independent prosecutorial discretion. Criminal proceedings are not always brought, for a variety of appropriate reasons.Note the lack of an apology for taking away their property on no legitimate basis for over a year. Even if we grant the RIAA their premise that the site infringed (which we don't), does it still make it right that the domain was completely censored for a year, and that the government tried very hard to avoid having to give it back? How can the RIAA not apologize for such a situation?
With respect to Dajaz1, we would note that this particular website has specialized in the massive unauthorized distribution of pre-release music -– arguably the worst and most damaging form of digital theft. 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 2,300 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.
If the site continues to operate in an illegal manner, we will consider all our legal options to prevent further damage to the music community.
We are aware of statements by the site operator that suggest that music companies themselves were the source of at least some of the thousands of recordings available on Dajaz1. Even assuming this to be accurate, it does not excuse the thousands of other pre-release tracks also made available which were neither authorized for commercial distribution nor for uploading to publicly accessible sites where they were readily downloadable for free.
Even more to the point, though, is the fact that the RIAA still insists the site was illegal, even after all of this. It seems to be issuing a threat to figure out yet another way to get a bite at this apple, despite it being rejected. And now you know why the RIAA supports SOPA and PIPA. Under those laws, it would be that much easier to knock out competition and innovation.
Of course to understand some of the details of how these blogs work, and why the RIAA is being misleading, at best, there's a great and insightful comment from R.K. Udeshi on Hacker News, who explains:
If you're not familiar with hip-hop music blogs like the one cited in the article, please visit http://nahright.com or http://missinfo.tv to get a better idea of what they look like (since dajaz1.com doesn't seem to be back up yet, understandably).That makes the point quite succinctly. These blogs are the new radio, and there's a total disconnect between the lawyers and the marketing folks. Of course, it's one thing for there to be confusion between two parts of a company... and quite another for that disconnect to lead to outright censorship and denial of due process.
Almost every track posted to sites like these are released by the artists themselves (or by their labels). Many hip-hop blogs (including the two I linked) will not post songs if they weren't legitimately authorized by the artists (e.g. if a track was stolen and leaked on the web).
Something you won't ever see are full albums. These sites aren't designed to replace album sales, they actually encourage them. They will only link to individual songs or freely released mixtapes.
(Also, you'll note that a lot of the music posted is from unsigned artists. A lot of newer rappers actually rose to prominence after having their music posted on these sites.)
There are many, many sites that willingly infringe on copyright and the government has good reason for shutting down. This was not one of them.