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Censorship Government Music Piracy The Internet Your Rights Online

Feds Return Mistakenly Seized Domain 243

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, 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 InsightIn140Bytes ( 2522112 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @04:56PM (#38307780)
    U.S. seizing domains of other nationals is bad as it is, but then they don't even research if there's actually anything illegal hosted? They just see mp3 downloads and assume it's copyright infringement and because it isn't big name site, just steal the domain without even contacting the owner. Is their tactic to make domain seizing look better by abusing things so much that the actual seizing part feels "light" compared to their other abuses?

    If the content bothers U.S. so much, why don't they just create national firewall like China does? Why do they step on other nationals rights and speech?
  • Just Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BlastfireRS ( 2205212 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:02PM (#38307880)
    It's an absolute travesty that it took nearly a year to have this domain returned. A lot of people make their livelihoods from their websites; domains are brands, and the government erroneously damaged these guys' ability to operate. I'd recommend seeking damages if the website was a source of income; even if it wasn't, something needs to be done to prove the point that a little more thought and due process needs to occur before arbitrarily taking things down.
  • by InsightIn140Bytes ( 2522112 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:03PM (#38307910)
    It doesn't change the fact that it is outright abuse. .com isn't even meant to be U.S. TLD. Since U.S. seems to abuse their administrative rights for global TLD's, I say we take those rights away and let United Nations handle TLD's like .com, .net, .org and .info. U.S. companies can start using their .us if they can't play by the rules.
  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:08PM (#38307968)

    If the content bothers U.S. so much, why don't they just create national firewall like China does? Why do they step on other nationals rights and speech?

    cook the frog slowly, my friend. that way you don't realize what's been done to you until its too late.

    there is a firewall in place; but its not physical.


    btw, so much of our nation gets its 'news' from tv and mass media, there IS, in effect, a firewall going on. the lack of real reporting and truth is a kind of information firewall.

    so, yes, we have firewalls of a kind, in the form of a filtered reality. fox leads the way, but the others are also owned by big media and they are also being filtered. at many levels, there is filtering going on. the only way to stay current is to go from the bottom up (blogs, forums, etc) where there is (currently) less control over free speech. all official news outlets, though, stopped being free for longer than I can remember (I'm a greyhair, too, fwiw).

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:09PM (#38307982)

    It's a .com, so it's registered in the US.

    So does that mean the US government can seize your US-registered car because someone says they saw it speeding? Or your US-registered house because someone says that you weren't recycling your garbage?

  • It's called incompetence.
    They where shutting people up for unjustified political reason.

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:13PM (#38308032)

    Doesn't seizing domains seem counterproductive? Wouldn't be it more productive to seize the server instead?

    Good luck seizing a virtual server in Butfukistan.

  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:14PM (#38308040) Homepage Journal

    It's destruction of the freedom of speech and private property. Everything else follows.

  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:16PM (#38308066)

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

    No offense, but you want to try READING the amendments buddy. Specifically ...

    X Rights of the States under Constitution

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

  • by evelo ( 1786080 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:24PM (#38308214)

    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.

    Personally I'm not willing to separate communication over a computer network from face to face communication when it comes to freedom of expression or for that matter accountability for fraud, libel, sedition, civil offenses etc. The domain's owner pays a fee to use that identity for his puposes, and the only purpose of computer networking is communication. It *should be cut and dry, the government should have no special powers to censor Internet communications any more than they should be permitted to pepper spray passive demonstrators. This domain was seized without even contacting the owner and witheld for a full year. No offenses were committed and no due process was given. IMO they did conspire to violate US 1st and 4th amendment rights.

  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:33PM (#38308350) Journal

    Or they can kill you because someone says you're a Terrorist? (answer is sadly .. YES).

    Voting (D) or (R) results in the same thing. Why anyone votes these two parties any more is beyond me

  • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:37PM (#38308408) Homepage

    I think he was being sarcastic and framing it from their view.

    Seize $5k worth of computers and return $100 worth of depreciated hardware two years later. What harm has been done? Maybe you can find somebody else who would be willing to charge you $100 for a replacement server today and take it back for $5k two years later. :)

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:42PM (#38308472)
    "Shutting people up for unjustified political reasons" is censorship!

    The fact that they were also incompetent at it would be pretty much irrelevant, except that now we all know.
  • Mistakenly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tofof ( 199751 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:43PM (#38308484)
    To be clear, it wasn't "mistakenly" seized. It was wrongfully seized. ICE knew exactly which domain it had seized, and denied any wrongdoing for more than a year. This wasn't the result of a typo on a list or anything else that could possibly warrant* calling this a mistake.

    It's not as if the feds got back from their domain seizing spree and the wife said "Honey, I told you to pick up Diet!"

    Not the only "warrantless" event in this situation, either.
  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:46PM (#38308540)
    They will never apologize. That is against official policy. And that is not a joke.

    Apologies can be construed as confession of wrongdoing. So law enforcement and government officials are instructed to never apologize. For anything.

    Which is why they never do it, unless a court makes them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:53PM (#38308636)

    Article IX also essentially says that just because we might have forgotten something or something new comes up, doesn't mean it isn't a right.

  • by SeekerDarksteel ( 896422 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @06:04PM (#38308776)
    Again, they may have been wrong in this case about copyright being infringed, but they do have that power.

    They do NOT have the power to seize property or restrict speech without proving that it is justified. Even if you argue that a domain is not 'property', they interfered with the domain owner's ability to disseminate information without cause.
  • Re:Worst part is.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @06:19PM (#38308922)
    They are wasting taxpayer dollars on this because big corporations told them to. Did you miss the part about the only "evidence" against that site being unsupported word-of-mouth by an RIAA official?
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @06:53PM (#38309344)

    Care to give an example for a justified political reason for censorship?

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @06:59PM (#38309428)

    But it wasn't taken away for not paying the "rent" for the domain. It was taken away for an alleged crime.

    The parallel of having the domain hijacked for alleged copyright infringement with having your home taken away for not paying property tax doesn't work out. Even if you cook up crack in your garage they don't take away your home. Not even if you are convicted. And let's not even go into how much of a suspicion is needed 'til they can actually come and take a look into your garage.

    What happened here was a police raid because they overheard your neighbor complaining about your crack, not knowing that they were just commenting on your negligence when it comes to keeping your pants up.

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @09:14PM (#38310576)
    "Free and clear" means "without lien claim". However, even if that is the case, all land ownership is by the grace of the government. The government holds all title. And even if they didn't in your libertardian utopia, they are still where you turn if a private person tries to take it from you, so they are de facto granting you your land.
  • by GPLHost-Thomas ( 1330431 ) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @11:36PM (#38311514)
    In France, it is forbidden to deny the Holocaust, and even discuss about numbers of victims. You know, I used to agree with that (partly maybe because of my grand-father who was deported to Nazi camps because he was hiding weapons, which fills this subject with emotions). Now, since very recently, I don't anymore. Let me explain why.

    Then, recently, I wanted to listen Robert Faurisson [] denial theories, just to know what he was talking about, and to make my own idea about it. After watching, and in all honesty, his thesis aren't only shocking, it's also completely absurd with very little to no valid evidence for supporting his ideas. He barely shows few maps, talks about how (now destroyed) buildings were made, and that's about it. When he's making comments about what he sees as healthy prisoners (he says they aren't starving, by showing a picture of a bunch of new prisoner just arrived), which is shocking and disgusting. I was very happy that it wasn't censored in Youtube, so I could see it for myself, and have points to make when someone is talking about this subject. If it was removed from Youtube, I would have nothing to tell to someone talking about Faurisson and the fact he is censored and could be seen as a victim of an imaginary Jewish cabal. Now, I know for a fact this is all bullshit.

    So at the end, I now strongly feel like it's better to allow free speech, even the most disgusting ones, and fight against them, rather than censoring and make them seen as victims. There's no such thing as justified censorship, and it ALWAYS leads to abuse, and controversy of the worst kind used both ways.

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall