Court records unsealed for seizure, reveal that US Customs operated as hired thugs for the RIAA

Remember the seizure of, a hiphop blog that posted all kinds of music clips that record company promoters (and even CEOs) begged them to post? The one that was shut down for a year on a trumped-up copyright charge that was quietly dropped without explanation? Now we have an explanation.

Rebecca from the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes, "After a year-long seizure and six more months of secrecy, the court records were finally released concerning the mysterious government takedown of -- a popular blog dedicated to hip hop music and culture. The records confirm that one of the key reasons the blog remained censored for so long is that the government obtained three secret extensions of time by claiming that it was waiting for 'rights holders' and later, the Recording Industry Association of America, to evaluate a 'sampling of allegedly infringing content' obtained from the website and respond to other 'outstanding questions.'"

Update: Mel from in the comments asks me to remind you that the site is back. It deserves your attention.

Now that the full court records are out, this seizure raises critical questions about the government’s use of its new powers to shut down lawful speech in the form of domain seizures for alleged copyright infringements. It also demonstrates the basic unfairness of the processes and secrecy invoked here and possibly in hundreds of other domain name seizures across the country. For nearly a year, the government muzzled – denying the blog’s author the right to speak and the public’s right to read what was published there – and then compounded matters by claiming extreme secrecy and blocking the Dajaz1 and the public’s access to information about the case.

Equally troubling, the records confirm what was already suggested by the initial affidavit used to obtain the seizure order: that ICE, and its attorneys, are effectively acting as the hired gun of the content industry at taxpayers' expense. Instead of relying on rightsholders to determine whether a seizure was appropriate, the government should have been conducting its own thorough investigation. If it had acted in anything like good faith, it could have determined that the site wasn't a proper target even before the seizure, or at least could have discovered and rectified the mistake before a year had passed.

Unsealed Court Records Confirm that RIAA Delays Were Behind Year-Long Seizure of Hip Hop Music Blog


  1. This whole action was an absurd abuse of power. Rules for property seizure in this country have really gone off the rails. It’s bad enough that the site could be “imprisoned” without any investigation or substantial finding of wrongdoing, but the fact that this touches on the first amendment makes it a much more serious issue. It’s good to see that digaz1 is back online, but I hope that someone can take up this cause and actually change the law or policy (and get some compensation for Mel). That reminds me; time to donate to the EFF.

  2. So maybe the take down of Mega was just v2.0 of this tactic?
    The indictment there had estimated losses provided by the lobbyists who couldn’t figure out if the material their members send to dajaz1  was infringing or not.

  3. And keep in mind that ICE was just in the spotlight about one of its director being involved in a massive fraud.

  4. “…ICE, and its attorneys, are effectively acting as the hired gun of the content industry at taxpayers’ expense.”

    Again, an example of our government serving big corporations and big money rather than the living breathing citizens who vote and pay taxes.

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