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Never mind the poker sites, the US government seizes 82 domains

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This is getting a little more than heavy handed to say the least but much of the news in the last couple of days has been centered around the seizure of poker sites and their assets by the U.S. government; but this apparently is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a post up today about some additional activity by the U.S. Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and nine U.S. Attorney’s offices that have taken part in the seizure of 82 domains claiming that they were engaged in the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and illegal copyrighted works.

Except there is a slight problem with this. It seems that at least two of the seized domains that in the their long history have done everything they can to comply with DMCA orders that they have received.

The sites in question are OnSmash.com and RapGodfathers.com; which anyone even remotely interested in rap and hip hop will recognize as two of the premier sites or the genre.

On Friday (November 26), two popular hip-hop blogs, OnSmash and RapGodfathers, were seized by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and Homeland Security Investigations. Both sites appear to be under investigation due to claims of copyright infringement.

In a post dated November 25, RapGodfathers wrote, “Yesterday, Tuesday November 23, agents from the United States DHS/ICE showed up to RGF’s data-center and seized our servers. During the whole existence of the website, we always honored any DMCA requests but apparently in [the] US people are guilty before proven innocent.”

DMCA, short for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, is a federal law passed in 1998 that largely made the distribution of copyrighted materials—read: MP3s—illegal. Remember Napster? The DMCA shut down the original peer-to-peer (P2P) download site.

What’s most disturbing in the case of OnSmash and RapGodfathers is that both sites claim to have complied with any DMCA removal requests. In the case of OnSmash specifically, the labels themselves gave the site the song links which OS provided to the public. Nevertheless, both hip-hop music destinations now find their daily updates grounded to a halt, with the possibility of losing their domain names.

via MTV’s Rapfix

Methinks this rampant misuse of government powers is getting a little more than out of hand but has all the earmarks of being prompted by the cozy relationship between the Department of Homeland Security and Hollywood entertainment trade groups.

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