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DHS in trouble over domain name seizures

by on12 December 2011

Acting as Big Content's police force

A US senator is demanding to know why the Department of Homeland Security stole a hip-hop music review site’s name for a year without affording the owner a chance to challenge the seizure.

Ron Wyden also wants to know why there was no court record of the case, other than the initial seizure filing a year ago. Wyden is concerned that there are shedloads of secret dockets being used by the Spooks to take down sites which are not helpful to the movie and music business. Jennifer Hoelzer, a Wyden spokeswoman said that there is a concern about how Homeland Security was chosing websites to shut down and how many secret dockets exist for copyright cases.

The Feds returned the domain name on Friday. They had the power to seize web domains under the same forfeiture laws used to seize property like houses, cars and boats allegedly tied to illegal activity such as drug running. But last year it started shutting down sites dealing with counterfeit goods, unauthorized sports streaming and unauthorized music. Dajas was accused the site of allowing its users to download pre-release music. But as it turns out, some of that music was sent to the popular blog by the artists or labels.

Techdirt said that the government refused to allow the site’s owner, to challenge the November 2010 seizure of the domain name. The only publicly available court record regarding the seizure was the initial filing of a court order a year ago. Now the DHS has admitted the forfeiture was unwarranted.

The DHS swooped on the site after being ordered by the Recording Industry Association of America. The RIAA was furious that the site listed four songs which were in violation of copyright law. The only problem was that three of them were e-mailed to Splash by record executives associated with labels that belong to the RIAA.

“It’s not my fault if someone at a record label is sending me the song,” Splash told The New York Times last year.

More here.

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