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Censorship Government Music Piracy The Internet Your Rights Online

Feds Return Mistakenly Seized Domain 243

Posted by timothy
from the right-courteous-of-them dept.
bs0d3 writes "Just over a year ago, Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized dozens of domain names as part of Operation in Our Sites. Among them was DaJaz1.com, a site from which Special Agent Andrew Reynolds said he'd downloaded pirated music. But there was a problem. Persistent reports suggested that the songs had been legally provided to the site by record labels for the specific purposes of distribution to fans, a point later raised by Senator Ron Wyden. One 'leak' even came from a boss at a major music label. Today, a year later, their domain was returned. The reason was because there was no probable cause and the site had never actually broken any laws or warranted a seizure. They are back in business and are displaying an anti-censorship, anti-PROTECT IP, and anti-SOPA banner on their website."
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Feds Return Mistakenly Seized Domain

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  • by magsk (1316183) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @04:03PM (#38307912)
    They should sue them for as much as possible (I know I will be paying for it as a tax payer), they need to be taught a lesson which will make them more careful and rethink their practices.
  • by galaad2 (847861) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @04:05PM (#38307922) Homepage Journal

    an US judge just ruled that having a .com doesn't necessarily mean it's under US jurisdiction:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111206/11351416992/facebook-fails-its-argument-that-faceporn-is-under-us-jurisdiction-using-com.shtml [techdirt.com]

    Facebook argued in its filings that Faceporn targets a United States audience by using a ".com" address, and by virtue of the fact that Faceporn is an interactive website with 250 users in California and 1000 users in the United States. The court says that these allegations alone are not sufficient to satisfy the standard for personal jurisdiction.

  • Re:How nice of them (Score:3, Informative)

    by Baloroth (2370816) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @04:06PM (#38307944)

    I have a civil right to an Internet domain? Don't remember that from the Constitution...

    I know, free speech and all that. However, free speech doesn't seem to be the issue here at all, the issue has nothing to do with what is said, but what is (purportedly) hosted. And domains are arguably not property, so that wouldn't be the issue either, at least not certainly.

    Disclaimer: I think these seizures are bad and illegal. I'm just not sure they are "violating civil rights" or "censorship", as seems to be the refrain on Slashdot.

  • by Artraze (600366) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @04:08PM (#38307966)

    That's judicial, this executive. They aren't bringing you to court, they're just taking your stuff... which they 'physically' can do. Whether or not they're _allowed_ to do that is certainly a question, but one that needs to be settled in court before you can get it back. And good luck with that.

    Think: It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission (especially if you can claim that no one has standing to make you apologize)

  • Re:How nice of them (Score:5, Informative)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @04:12PM (#38308016)

    I have a civil right to an Internet domain? Don't remember that from the Constitution...

    If you actually knew anything about the Constitution, you'd know that it defines the limited powers of the government, not the rights of the citizens.

  • Re:Good Luck (Score:2, Informative)

    by Amouth (879122) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @04:40PM (#38308444)

    but here they didn't have a warrant - and there wasn't any probable cause.

    This was taken with zero due process - therefor should not fall under previous court rulings.

  • Re:Good Luck (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:03PM (#38308766)
    See United States Code, Title 18, Section 242 (18 USC 242).

    The person who misrepresented probable cause to the judge CAN be prosecuted. Even if it was mere negligence. In fact, even the judge could probably be prosecuted, for signing a warrant that allowed property seizure without sufficient evidence. That statute has real teeth, and there is no exception in 18 USC 242 for judges. They are government officials like any others.
  • Re:How nice of them (Score:5, Informative)

    by residieu (577863) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:08PM (#38308828)
    Several of the founding fathers opposed the idea of a Bill of Rights for just this reason. If we enumerate a set of rights, somebody is going to come along and assume that those are our ONLY rights.
  • by idontgno (624372) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @06:26PM (#38309652) Journal

    Sovereign Immunity wasn't an impediment in the canonical example of a lawsuit about technology-related unlawful seizure: Steve Jackson Games v. United States Secret Service [wikipedia.org]; The Federal Tort Claims Act [wikipedia.org] probably provided the rationale to waive sovereign immunity in this case, since it was the tortuous actions of agents of the Secret Service which were the heart of the case.

    This case was the genesis of the EFF.

    To recap: SJ Games was raided in early 1990 on unsubstantiated claims of possession of stolen proprietary "telephone system hacking" information. (i.e., interstate theft and wire fraud). The affidavit [sjgames.com] supporting the warrant was sealed at the request of the Secret Service until October of that year, so SJ Games didn't even know what it was really being raided for.

    Some of the seized goods (hardware, documents) were returned within that year, but not all; I'm not sure if all of it ever was.

    SJ Games filed suit to "to redress violations of the Privacy Protection Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C. 2000aa et seq; the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, as amended, 18 U.S.C. 2510 et seq and 2701 et seq; and the First and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution." in May of 1991 and won the judgment in March of 1993.

    To borrow the central conceit of the Battlestar Galactica retread series: "All this has happened before, and all this will happen again."

  • by Splab (574204) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @07:09PM (#38310040)

    .com is not the domain you are looking for. .com means commercial, the US domain is .us. (Central registrar might be in the US right now, but .com TLD does by no means belong to USA).

  • by hoggoth (414195) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @07:09PM (#38310046) Journal

    > Even if you cook up crack in your garage they don't take away your home.

    You haven't been paying attention, have you?
    The government CAN AND DOES take away any of your property they want just based on their SUSPICION that you were involved in a crime.
    They call it 'civil asset forfeiture', and with some twisted logic fueled by greed and a total disregard of the rule of law they CHARGE YOUR PROPERTY with committing a crime. The cases have names like: "United States vs. one 1998 Mercedes Benz," and "California vs. 1711 Main Street,"

    From Wikipedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asset_forfeiture [wikipedia.org]

    Asset forfeiture in the United States

    There are two types of forfeiture cases, criminal and civil. Almost all forfeiture cases practiced today are civil. In civil forfeiture cases, the US Government sues the item of property, not the person; the owner is effectively a third party claimant. Once the government establishes probable cause that the property is subject to forfeiture, the owner must prove on a "preponderance of the evidence" that it is not. The owner need not be judged guilty of any crime. In contrast, criminal forfeiture is usually carried out in a sentence following a conviction and is a punitive act against the offender. Since the government can choose the type of case, a civil case is almost always chosen. The costs of such cases is high for the owner, usually totaling around $10,000 and can take up to three years.

    The United States Marshals Service is responsible for managing and disposing of properties seized and forfeited by Department of Justice agencies. It currently manages around $1 billion worth of property. The United States Treasury Department is responsible for managing and disposing of properties seized by Treasury agencies. The goal of both programs is to maximize the net return from seized property by selling at auctions and to the private sector and then using the property and proceeds for law enforcement purposes.

    A form of asset forfeiture is roadside forfeiture during a vehicle stop. Usually enforcing State policies by Highway police, local law enforcement have built up seized funds and spent them with oversight only from local judges who sometimes benefit from the expenditures of such funds. The presumption is that travelers hiding large amounts of cash are transporting drug money. Often, the vehicle occupants are required to simply sign a waiver that they will leave the State and not return, thus also not attempt to retrieve their funds. Some complain that this is law enforcement action requires more oversight in order to minimize the impact on travelers who are not involved in drug money but who simply wish to avoid further involvement with law enforcement agents and sign the waiver anyway. Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee is investigating the Tenaha, Texas Police seizures scandal.

    The number of federal statutes giving the government the right to confiscate citizens’ assets has nearly doubled since the 1990s, by one count. More than 400 federal statutes allow for forfeiture for a wide range of reasons, including violations of the Northern Pacific Halibut Act.

    Also read:
    http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2001/6/27/191414.shtml [newsmax.com]

  • by quacking duck (607555) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @09:48PM (#38311178)

    We have in our province an Apology Act that passed in 2009. It removed this very misconception, so an apology could no longer be used later in court as admission of guilt or wrongdoing.

    A lot of reactionaries panned the law, but it makes perfect sense, for exactly the reason you brought up. There's definite merit in the thinking that being able to apologize up front for a mistake can avert or at least reduce the likelihood and severity of a drawn out court battle.

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