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Old 2010-12-22, 06:06 PM
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Re: Music Web Sites Dispute Legality of Their Closing

The text of the article copy & pasted for those who have issues with the link provided :

Music Web Sites Dispute Legality of Their ClosingBy BEN SISARIO
Published: December 19, 2010

When federal authorities shut down five Web sites last month on suspicion of copyright infringement, they gave no warning and offered no details of their investigation, and they have not filed any criminal charges since.

John Morton, right, director of customs enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security, with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., announced the seizure of 82 Web domains last month.

But after the seizure warrant used in the operation was released last week, the operators of several of the sites said in interviews that they were innocent of infringement, and criticized the investigation for misrepresenting how their sites worked.

In a 69-page affidavit seeking the warrant, an agent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the unit of the Department of Homeland Security that did the investigation, said the five sites —,,, and — were used “to commit or facilitate criminal copyright infringement.”

The agent also said the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, the trade groups for the major film studios and record labels, had confirmed that the music and movies on the sites had not been released with the authorization of their copyright holders.

Yet after being shown the affidavit, the operator of — a widely read hip-hop blog that posts new songs and videos — disputed many of the warrant’s examples of what it called copyright infringement. He said that, like much of the material on his site, the songs had been sent to him for promotional purposes by record labels and the artists.

As proof, the operator, a Queens man who declined to give his real name but is known online as Splash, showed The New York Times several e-mails from record label employees and third-party marketers offering songs mentioned in the affidavit.

“It’s not my fault if someone at a record label is sending me the song,” Splash said.

In describing what it contends are the infringing aspects of, the affidavit mentions a post with a link to new music by the rapper Kid Cudi, with a line telling readers, “You can pre-order the album on iTunes tomorrow and receive a bonus track on the day of release.”

Waleed A. GadElKareem, an Egyptian who operated, said his site was essentially a search engine for BitTorrent — a decentralized file-sharing system that can be used for any data — with results that are easily found elsewhere on the Internet.

“Google and Yahoo still link to them,” he said. “Why can’t I?”

(, like several of the seized domains, has relocated; it is now fully operational at

The sites were shut over the Thanksgiving weekend as part of “Operation In Our Sites,” a crackdown on 82 domains, or Web addresses, suspected of copyright infringement and selling counterfeit handbags, sunglasses and other consumer goods. The investigation is continuing. Unlike most previous similar government crackdowns, the domains were seized with no warning.

The move has drawn criticism among many bloggers and Web advocates who see it as a preview of a controversial bill in Congress, the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act, which would extend the attorney general’s power in pursuing Web sites believed to be “dedicated to infringing activities.”

“There is tremendous concern about the climate of fear and uncertainty this is going to create,” said Peter Eckersley of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group. “It’s a troubling situation where basically any Web site that the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t like and is convinced has too much infringing material on it can just disappear overnight.”

A version of this article appeared in print on December 20, 2010, on page B6 of the New York edition..
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