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In red Russia, the domain takes down you

Call this a case of being careful what you wish for.

I. Robbing the Innocent

That's the message a few renegades in Congress are sending, after the majority of their colleagues pushed for a legislative framework that would granted big media broad taxpayer funded website takedown provisions with neither transparency or clear criteria.  While those efforts failed, the members of Congress who fought the bills are upset that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been actually performing such improper takedowns, even after popular protest (temporarily) shelved the Congressional efforts.

In their letter to the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (Calif.-D), Rep. Jared Polis (Colo.-D), and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah-R) -- members of the House Judiciary Committee -- express concerns that a recent takedown campaign was used to silence free speech and take down perfectly legal websites.

They write, "We are concerned about your Departments' seizure of domain names under Operation In Our Sites, launched in November 2010.  Our concern centers on your Department's methods, and the process given, when seizing the domain names of websites whose actions and content are presumed to be lawful, protected speech."

RIAA police
The DHS followed RIAA orders to seize law-abiding citizens' property and silence their free speech, all without a single trial or hearing. [Image Source: Sodahead]

They offer up the case study of "Dajaz1" -- a hip-hop fan who maintained a music-centric website that on occasion linked to tracks hosted on other websites.  The DHS officers took down the site and seized Dajaz1's domain, claiming he was posting links to infringing content.  But it turned out these were legal tracks (e.g. mixtapes, etc.).

At the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) behest, the domain and page were kept down for over a year, and efforts by Dajaz1's lawyers were blocked.  A year later he finally received his site back, but was not compensated for the police state's suppression of his free speech or seizure of his legal property.  

The incident was made more baffling by the fact that the RIAA claimed to be representing musicians/music labels, yet the musicians/labels in this case were perfectly happy with their work being used on the sites Dajaz1 linked.  And the question remains why the DHS is following RIAA orders so obediently and unquestioningly in the first place, when simple investigation would have revealed the request was abusive.

Comments the Representatives, "Much of Dajaz1's information was lawful, and many of the allegedly infringing links to copyrighted songs, and specifically the links that were the basis of the seizure order, were given to the site's owner by artists and labels themselves."

II. Mission Success?

The DHS ultimately answers to the White House and its so-called "Homeland Security Council".  That means that ultimately President Obama is who is to blame most-directly for these seizures, all though both parties in Congress gave the DHS the tools it needed to carry out that process.

The RIAA and the majority of members of Congress, though seem to think it's a fair bargain to suppress free speech and disenfranchize law-abiding citizens in the name of combatting piracy.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (an enforcement arm of the DHS), though views "Operation in Our Sites" to be a big success, claiming it to have taken down over 750 sites since its 2010 launch -- most of which were verified to be hosting or linking to illegal content.  The latest phase -- Operation Fake Sweep -- landed in February and took down over a dozen illegal sports streaming sites.

However, it's clear that definition of success vary -- to the DHS and its minion agencies even if a few innocent men and women have their rights robbed from them and are financially harmed, it's worth it to battle the nebulous specter of "piracy".  But the Congressional letter writers aren't so willing to call that police state policy a "success" by their criteria.

Of course Reps. Lofgren (D), Polis (D), and Chaffetz (R) may be in the minority, both in the Congress at large and within their own parties.  The three reps were among only 31 Senators or Representatives to publicly oppose the Orwellian "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) (H.R. 3261) in the House and "PROTECT IP Act" (PIPA) (S.968) in the Senate. By contrast 80 of their colleagues supported that bill -- which called for similar punitive takedowns -- before some eventually scurried off the ship amid mass public derision.

Source: Rep. Lofgren [PDF]

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police state
By GulWestfale on 9/4/2012 3:18:07 PM , Rating: 5
this is something one would expect from middle eastern dictatorships, or perhaps hugo chavez. and why exactly is the DHS doing this? aren't they supposed to be looking out for brown men with beards they can harass?

RE: police state
By stm1185 on 9/4/2012 3:34:51 PM , Rating: 3
I am really feeling the Hope and Change from this administration when I read pieces like this.

The change of targets to US citizens who are angering the RIAA, and the Hope the RIAA will make money off them and contribute back to Obama's campaign.

RE: police state
By michael67 on 9/4/2012 4:23:23 PM , Rating: 2
You find it strange that this is happening?

Hey people you get ware you vote for, and people are more interested in infotainment, then real new.

I travel a lot between Norway (living/work), Holland (born) and Texas (work), and in Holland there are soon also elections and i get depressed watching the populistic debate, ware politicians try to tell the people what they wane hear instead of the cold truth we they told us 20y ago.

But that comes not even close to the twisted way FOXnews is covering the US election, as i have little hope for Europe, the lack of trustworthy and reliable news in the US is beyond depressing, and even programs like 60minuts is but a shadow of what it use to be.

I was watching the debate for the (R) nominee, and answered to lot of question ware not (completely) truthfully being answered, and they ware almost never corrected specially when it was about foreign policy, and there ware also a lot of other BS questions, like what kind of music did they like, WTF, you try to find out what the candidates stand for not what music they like, how cares!

Because how can you make a well informed derision, if the information source your using is not even trustworthy.

So if i had a time machine, i would go back in time and kill Ronald Reagan, Margaret thatcher, for deregulating banks en above all Rupert Murdoch, for killing Independent new coverage.

Properly would not save the world, but would at least not make it worse.

RE: police state
By fic2 on 9/4/2012 6:17:22 PM , Rating: 2
Your a complete fool if you believe it will change under the "business is king" GOP party.

In the U.S. your vote is a "Heads corporations win, tails people lose" coin flip two party in name only system.

RE: police state
By chmilz on 9/4/2012 7:46:29 PM , Rating: 1
This is party agnostic. Both administrations have pushed for this. I don't know everything about US politics, but don't you guys have, um, other options than Dems and GOP?

Bush used torture despite being prohibited in international law (and knowing nobody can do anything about it), and then Obama followed that up by allowing death panels to choose and kill US citizens without due process with drones. See? Both are evil.

All this crap about jobs and the economy is just feeder pellets for all you hamsters to keep you distracted while whoever holds office increasingly turns America into a totalitarian state that passively controls you.

This may make me sound like a conspiracy nut, but it's there in black and white and is happening more by the day.

RE: police state
By Etsp on 9/4/2012 8:05:55 PM , Rating: 3
Obama followed that up by allowing death panels to choose and kill US citizens without due process with drones.
"Death Panels" refers to a myth surrounding language in our health care bill that, when twisted and distorted beyond all recognition and taken out of context, somehow gives the government the right to deny people health care coverage when they have fatal diseases. The supposed "Death Panels" would determine who gets coverage, and who dies.

Killing US citizens with drones without due process, at the very least happened in some rather extenuating circumstances. All of them died alongside terrorists actively hostile to the US. I'm not aware of an instance where a US citizen was specifically targeted for the drone attacks. Rather they were in the wrong place (working alongside terrorists) at the wrong time.

RE: police state
By chmilz on 9/5/2012 12:20:19 AM , Rating: 2
Not the fake health-care death panels. The group of people the POTUS meets with to determine who should be killed with a drone strike.

RE: police state
By nanfad on 9/5/2012 12:33:00 AM , Rating: 2

In response to your comment

"Killing US citizens with drones without due process, at the very least happened in some rather extenuating circumstances. All of them died alongside terrorists actively hostile to the US. I'm not aware of an instance where a US citizen was specifically targeted for the drone attacks. "

Anwar al-Aulaqi was an American born citizen who was directly targeted and killed in a drone strike. He was directly targeted by Executive Order of the President. Supposedly Adam Gadahn is also on the hit list.

RE: police state
By JPForums on 9/5/2012 10:28:22 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not aware of an instance where a US citizen was specifically targeted for the drone attacks.
I've heard it said that if you want to off a foreign dignitary without suspicion, stand him next to the President of the United States. A similar method could apply here. If you want to off a citizen without suspicion, stand him next to a terrorist.

Disclaimer: I have no idea whether this has actually happened or not as I have done exactly zero research into the subject. I am simply drawing attention to the fact that it could.
I'm not aware of an instance where a US citizen was specifically targeted for the drone attacks.
Nor would you be if it actually happened ... unless, of course, the perpetrator wanted to end up in prison. I pose a simple question, though. If they knew where these terrorists were at and they were, as you said, working, then why didn't they just arrest them? We all know how our intelligence agencies love new sources of information.

RE: police state
By Schrag4 on 9/5/2012 12:43:04 PM , Rating: 2
I pose a simple question, though. If they knew where these terrorists were at and they were, as you said, working, then why didn't they just arrest them? We all know how our intelligence agencies love new sources of information.

I'm no expert, but here's my undestanding. These strikes often occur a great distance from where we actually have troops deployed (don't many of these strikes occur in Pakistan?). We would need the local governments to do the arrests for us since it would take too long to get troops our out there to arrest someone once we knew where they were going to be. Not only that, but they wouldn't so much be "arrests" as "firefights with few, if any survivors that could provide useful information." I don't think we have a lot of trust in the local governments to carry out arrests for us, and for good reason. Does anybody REALLY believe that the Pakistani government had no knowledge of where Bin Laden was hiding?

I believe the main reason we involved the Seals in the Bin Laden raid (vs a drone or bomber strike) is because we had to be absolutely sure - the value of the target was just too high. Also, although the Pakistanis surely didn't appreciate us going behind their backs, I'm sure they would have appreciated it even less had we leveled the compound completely (or missed the compound and leveled something else).

I'm sure some people a lot closer to the action could weigh in and correct me, though. This is just my feeble understanding.

RE: police state
By JPForums on 9/5/2012 12:59:13 PM , Rating: 2
For some reason, when I read "strikes against U.S. citizen", my mind immediately jumped to within the States. You know, where the vast majority of U.S. citizens are located. As I stated earlier I've done zero research on this and therefore had no idea you were talking about Afghanistan.

In the scenario you describe, there is clearly no viable arrest option. Given the tone of his post, I'm still not sure whether Chmilz was thinking of the same scenario that you are, though.

RE: police state
By Schrag4 on 9/5/2012 3:27:39 PM , Rating: 2
I've never heard of the US govt taking out suspected terrorists on US soil. I believe all of the scenarios where US citizens who were also suspected terrorists have been killed so far have occurred in the middle east, as they were meeting with other suspected terrorists. If our govt suspects someone within our borders of being a terrorist they arrest the suspect. The only way they would get taken out while in the US is if they decide to put up a fight rather than go quietly, and even that's extremely rare (the arresting forces typically have the element of surprise and therefore can avoid bloodshed).

RE: police state
By Reclaimer77 on 9/4/12, Rating: 0
RE: police state
By nick2000 on 9/4/2012 8:52:11 PM , Rating: 3
Torture never yielded any valuable information. Bin laden was found thanks to good old actual intelligence efforts.

RE: police state
By Samus on 9/5/2012 1:21:14 AM , Rating: 2
Torture isn't anything new either. It's been around for a long time and it'll be around for a long time.

Even if it works just part of the time, it usually pays off saving lives of soldiers and/or civilians. It sucks, but until we capture a brain bug, it's a neccessary human tactic.

I agree with your comments about feeding us hamsters some nuggets to fight over without focusing on the real products. Political leaders get everyone's panties in a bunch over stupid crap like gay marriage, abortion, unemployement (we're at 8%, that isn't great, but it also isn't terrible) and the "war" in afghanistan.

Meanwhile, we don't focus on education, healthcare, and retirement, all things Romney/Ryan want to cut funding from, while ALSO not addressing the issues above that as far as I'm concerned, are cut-and-dry solutions (legalize gay marriage, legalize women's right to abortion without federal financial ties, and if all issues are addressed properly, unemployement will drop because economic spending will improve once corporations see SOME direction the country is pointed in because it's been in limbo for 4 years with no clear path and I don't blame ANYBODY for not wanting to spend a God damn dime!

RE: police state
By JPForums on 9/5/2012 12:47:34 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with your comments about feeding us hamsters some nuggets to fight over without focusing on the real products. Political leaders get everyone's panties in a bunch over stupid crap like gay marriage, abortion, unemployement (we're at 8%, that isn't great, but it also isn't terrible) and the "war" in afghanistan.

Gay Marriage - I'm going to leave this one alone for now.

Abortion - This is a legitimate issue. There are quite a number of people who equate this to murder. If you want to avoid this equation, then you have to define what it is to be human. Given the governments propensity for redefining things after the fact, I can see where this is less than desirable.

Unemployment - You are correct, our current levels aren't nearly as high as they've been in the past. The bigger issue is that the trend is not reversing, and a growing number of people perceive the actions of the current administration to be giving it more momentum.
Meanwhile, we don't focus on education, healthcare, and retirement, all things Romney/Ryan want to cut funding from ...
It always amazes me how if I ask someone to pay for my doctors visit, or some of my school fees, people will tell me to pay my own d@mn bill, but they seem perfectly fine with letting the government take their money and do it for them. Putting that aside:

Retirement - It is your responsibility to fund your own retirement. You don't have a right to others money just because you've lived long enough. If you are talking about social security, I believe if you've paid in, you should get something out. However, social security when it was conceived was never meant to sustain someone. It was supposed to supplement an existing (presumably sustaining) retirement fund.

Healthcare - The actions of both parties are supposed to reduce the cost of healthcare. Why wouldn't you want to cut spending in this case. Would you rather politicians pocket the difference?

Education - There are several studies in New York that suggest raising government funding had little or no effect on many schools. (though, there are also a few that suggest there is no effect because we don't spend nearly enough into it.) In 2010, 51 percent of the Illinois's schools failed to make "sufficient progress" under no child left behind with 64% not making the grade. In 2011 the percentages rose sharply to 65% and 80% respectively. There is sufficient data out their to suggest Federal spending on education is perhaps the wrong way to address the problem. Romney apparently feels that Bush's just throw money at it method isn't producing the necessary results to justify its cost. Many, myself included, feel that this is an issue that should be addressed in lower levels of government (I.E. State, County, City, etc.) where the real problems are better known and the overseers can be far more responsive to changes. Perhaps a better solution will be more expensive, but it had better produces results.

You say we aren't focused on education, healthcare, and retirement (by which I'm guessing you mean social security). When Social Security got moved to the general fund, it became increasingly important to maintain balance in our budget. If the government overspends the general fund, social security goes right with it. Moves to balance the budget inherently help the longevity of social security. That said, there should be a lot more scrutiny here. Healthcare has been a huge focus for the last almost four years. I can't see how you think we aren't focused on it. Unless of course you only count focus as when things move in your preferred direction. Education has been in and out of focus. The fact that Romney wants to cut funding isn't lack of focus. More likely he is focused on cutting a program he perceives to be ineffectual. Putting validity of these aside, the U.S. has far to many programs to are put into place and allowed to carry on without reevaluating their effectiveness.
if all issues are addressed properly, unemployement will drop because economic spending will improve once corporations see SOME direction the country is pointed in
The issue with businesses is less about direction and more about taxes. With all the extra spending coming down the pipe, there is a good chance businesses will end up footing much the bill. They don't want to get caught with their pants down when it hits.

RE: police state
By chmilz on 9/5/2012 12:18:32 AM , Rating: 3
Actually it is:

On December 10, 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Article 5 states, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."[35] Since that time, a number of other international treaties have been adopted to prevent the use of torture. Two of these are the United Nations Convention Against Torture and for international conflicts the Geneva Conventions III and IV.

Other countries are allowed to try alleged torturers if the country they reside in won't (ex. Spain vs. Pinochet). The problem is with the US being the most powerful country on earth, it's acting above the law because it knows no one can do a damn thing about it.

RE: police state
By hifloor on 9/5/2012 2:19:59 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for citing - I was just going to tell Reclaimer he's being a fucking idiot and he's dead wrong.

Incidentally, Bush, Cheney, and a handful of members of that administration are now convicted war criminals - You didn't really believe whatever bullshit excuse Cheney gave when he canceled that trip to Canada a couple months back, did you?

Have a look here, too - Cheney himself admitted that torture got them nothing useful. Apparently, he really just is Satan himself, ordering people tortured just for the sake of it.

Too bad Obama was a spineless asshole about it and just wanted to "look ahead, not to the past." One of the many reasons I'm not voting for him again. Asshole.

RE: police state
By SPOOOK on 9/6/2012 11:42:52 PM , Rating: 2
the us is the most powerful country bull-crap the us lost evey war they were in and the vietcong were 10 times better
then the us , the us could not even beat a tiny country the north veitcong won the war

RE: police state
By dark matter on 9/5/2012 3:24:12 AM , Rating: 2

You think torture is acceptable.

You're scum of the Earth.

RE: police state
By TheJian on 9/5/12, Rating: 0
RE: police state
By nick2000 on 9/5/2012 8:43:30 PM , Rating: 2
A country is nothing like a business. If it was we would first cut lose all the deadbeat states that cost more than they bring. We would cut most of the military, cut minimum wage and regulations. Throw in social security, medicare and retirement so that we can compete with dirt cheap countries. The situation would only start reversing once nobody can compete with the us on price... Then we end up like a nice 3rd world country with some righ people in mansions behind barbwire with their own security teams. A lot like somalia i guess. Awesome. I cannot wait.

RE: police state
By RaXcaL on 9/4/2012 4:24:29 PM , Rating: 4
I have to disagree with you, no privately owned corporation / association would ever be able to pull this kind of BS in any country ruled under dictatorship.
This is a fine example of what can be accomplished by just having deep enough pockets, earned through extorting errr... I mean signing up artists.
It's no conspiracy theory, big corporations rule the U.S.A., as sad as it is.

Instead of buying music
By tayb on 9/4/2012 3:51:19 PM , Rating: 4
According to the site linked below approximately 2.3 cents of every dollar goes to the musicians. So, instead of buying music why not download it "illegally" and send money directly to the artists? Send 100 cents of every dollar to the musicians instead of funding this stuff.

RE: Instead of buying music
By CaptShank555 on 9/4/2012 4:45:03 PM , Rating: 3
I've thought about this allot. All musicians should have "Donate" buttons on the top of their webpage.

Think about it, if they did that we could go around the RIAA/MPAA and the cancer will die.

RE: Instead of buying music
By fic2 on 9/4/2012 6:06:52 PM , Rating: 2
That would be an excellent suggestion. I have thought about creating a musician pay portal site that would be the flip side of the music industry - only take take 2-3% and send the rest to the designated artist.
I am sure the RIAA would sue me out of existence though. Or the jackbooted DHS would throw me into the dungeon.

RE: Instead of buying music
By TSS on 9/4/2012 7:36:42 PM , Rating: 2
How about we don't, and download and listen all the music we want to for totally and completly no cost at all.

Then, of those you think are worth it, go see a concert.

That's how they've always made their money, They get most of the money out of live performances. And sorry but if you wanna sing but don't want to travel and perform you're not cut out to be a bard.

Because that's what these people are. Bards. Not actual musicians but people playing simplistic melodies for simplistic minds. People that, before internet, TV or radio existed, would travel and perform in order to just make a living. Not millions. A living.

So considering the fact that U-2 is able to make nigh $200 million off a 2 year tour is just absolutely insane, even by historical standards. You do realise most of the great classical works, things that are truely musical, where either comissioned for a salary or written for no pay, just because it was art?

Beethoven and Bach both lived and died piss poor, lady gaga gets to earn $90 million in 1 year, and when we copy recorded music that can be infinitly copied for free WE are being accused of feeling entitled?

FUCK them. I'll download all the music i want for free as much as i like. Maybe then we'll get some artists that can actually sing instead of these "performers". And the life they have to live is still far, far, far superior to anything their kind has had to contend with in any place in history.

RE: Instead of buying music
By hifloor on 9/5/2012 2:32:12 AM , Rating: 2

It's no secret that most artists don't make jack from record sales. They make money from touring (which is exactly why Prince and Madonna just tour constantly.)

The 'poor artists' being 'hurt by piracy' are, in fact, just the record companies.

Where the situation gets funny is when you consider the first-sale doctrine. I can go to the record store two blocks away and haul off a shedload of used CDs. Label gets nothing, artist gets nothing. So, really, I don't have to pay the label, I just have to pay someone. How about we cut out the middleman and let me hit the Pirate Bay? I may have, a time or two, downloaded something I owned because I cba to rip & convert it myself.

Or course, it could be worse. If the ASCAP had their way, I'd have to pay royalties for singing to myself. God forbid anyone should hear me, then they have to pay, too.

True Masters
By fic2 on 9/4/2012 6:03:47 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps the DHS knows who their true overlords are and so obey only them?

RE: True Masters
By PaFromFL on 9/5/2012 8:51:49 AM , Rating: 2
If anyone is pirating musicians, it is the RIAA. Their goal appears not only to be the strongest pirate, but also to be the only pirate.

DHS protects the homeland against terrorists, not pirates. DHS also has a track record that suggests it is run by stupid suggestible people. The RIAA probably convinced DHS that the terrorists plan to undermine our country by downloading free music. DHS needs to stick its nose back in our underwear, where it belongs.

But the real question still are...
By BernardP on 9/4/2012 9:51:11 PM , Rating: 2
...what has Homeland Security to do with copyright infringement on music and video files?

Where is the security threat?

By Mike Acker on 9/6/2012 7:54:29 AM , Rating: 2
it is very good to ask this question. reflecting any well informed person will see it simple arrogation and abuse of power.... crime, under the color of law.

it is time to revive the Spirit of Woodstock

By TheJian on 9/5/2012 2:44:04 AM , Rating: 1
"that would granted big media"

I stopped reading here...But did start laughing. I guess MS word can't flag that as bad grammar? No editor checking your stuff still? I digress.

RE: Jeez..
By Mike Acker on 9/6/2012 8:00:43 AM , Rating: 2
i know a lot of people who can't read a sentence that has a spelling error. are you one of them?

By wallijonn on 9/6/2012 12:37:21 PM , Rating: 2
Why is it that the DHS logo now accompanies the FBI logo on every DVD and BD when they start up? Is there evidence that movie piracy funds terrorism? Then why haven't we boycotted China, who supposedly is the biggest piracy nation? Because they finance our debt.

Who the f*** cares?
By GotThumbs on 9/4/12, Rating: -1
RE: Who the f*** cares?
By GotThumbs on 9/4/2012 3:48:58 PM , Rating: 3
The guy is dead and buried.

Please consider burying his BS quotes as well.

The guy was a salesman...and that is it.

I'd rather read quotes from Micheal Scott..."That's what she said"

RE: Who the f*** cares?
By tayb on 9/4/2012 5:37:24 PM , Rating: 1
Who the f*** cares? Obviously you.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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