The U.S. government seized the domain of a small but influential music blog a year ago under charges that look pretty bogus, then kept it under lock and key for more than a year, according to this completely outrageous story by Mike Masnick at Techdirt.
Around Thanksgiving 2010, the Department of Homeland Security seized more than 70 domains with no trial, accusing them of copyright infringement, and put up the alarming graphic seen at the right here.
One of the seized sites, Dajaz1.com, was a hip-hop blog.
According to Techdirt, the feds listed a bunch of songs that were supposedly there without permission. But in fact, the report says, the musicians and their reps sent the songs to Dajaz1 and asked for them to be publicized.
So apparently the seizure was based on totally false premises to begin with.
But that’s not the really scary part.
Under the law, the feds have 60 days to inform the owner of seized property why they took it. The owner can then file a claim asking for it back. Once that happens, the government has 90 days to explain why the owner should forfeit the property permanently
The government reportedly missed the 90 day deadline.
Or at least that’s what the owner assumed when he heard nothing. Then the court told him that the government got an extension.
But the owner couldn’t see the extension because all the filings in the case were sealed, and was not allowed to testify in court to ask for his property back, says TechDirt.
This sounds like the kind of law enforcement tactics that might (maybe) be justified for a hardcore terrorist investigation. But for a copyright infringement case?
It went on like this for about a year, until the government finally returned the blog to its rightful owner yesterday, according to the report.
TechDirt concludes, “This whole thing has been a disgrace by the US government, starting with a bogus seizure, improper and illegal censorship, followed by denial of due process and unnecessary secrecy.”
It’s pretty hard to disagree.