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More Mistakes Discovered In DHS's Domain Seizures (techdirt.com)
121 points by yanw on Dec 22, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 36 comments

So basically zero repercussions for judges and law enforcement that swear and sign vastly incorrect orders that do drastic damage. Just like that article the other day where there are no repercussions for badly behaving prosecutors.

I guess at least they didn't kill anyone like a no-knock warrant on the wrong house for the wrong reason. Still, it's the general attitude that really should wake up people who have blind faith.

A better course of action may be prosecution of the RIAA under RICO statutes as they have caused damage of the property of others for claims which are false and which they ought to have known were false. They do offer 'protection' from these issues in exchange for 'licensing' fees. And it's clear that the record company execs have conspired to create such an organization.

This would create far more change than the prosecution of some low level bureaucrats, as RICO statues would allow the prosecution of the executives rather than lower level employees, as well as piercing the corporate veil to go after the record company execs rather than just RIAA execs.

The nice thing is that RICO allows for a civil claim where the evidentiary standards would be greatly relaxed, also a civil claim could not be quashed by reason of 'public interest'.

We can only dream. It'd be nice if everyone, corporations, politicians, and individuals, were held to account equally and were treated equally under the law. Unfortunately, that's not the world we live in.

It seems that the only way to actually be able to give those officials any form of repercussions would be to actually sue the government for damages.

I sincerely hope that the affected parties do sue the government successfully.

Except what happens then? Damages are paid out of the taxpayers' wallets.

It still leaves the problem of zero repercussions for the officials involved.

Now, if the officials themselves could be personally sued...

> Now, if the officials themselves could be personally sued...

I would really like to see immunity removed from government officials. The ostensible rationale for immunity is that you don't want government officials afraid that they'll be sued if the exercise discretion. But I that's exactly what you do want. If an official's actions can have a huge impact on people's lives, that official should feel that he'd better be right in his acts or that there will be repercussions for him personally -- just like in the private sector.

If you fuck up in a way that costs your department money, you get yelled at... even in the government. Each government department is not given full access to all of the money that the government has available; they have a budget, and that's all they get. If the budget is spent being sued for incompetence, that comes right out of your raise. In theory.

Officials can be personally sued if they were exceeding the bounds of their official duties.

We don't allow officials to be sued for official actions for many, many reasons, not the least of which is that it would effectively render enforcement impossible.

Mistaken arguments discovered in mistakes in seizures post.

In multiple cases, the blogger notes that he will not post links to too many tracks from an album, suggesting that the site is not at all focused on getting as much infringing material up as possible, as implied in the affidavit. If that was the goal, why would it specifically refuse to post links to more than just a few songs?

Man in a barber's shop, and a kid walks in. "Hey", says the barber to the man, "see that kid? dumbest kid in the world. Look, I'll show you." and he goes over to the kid and holds out a dollar in one hand and two quarters in the other and asks the kid to choose. The kid takes the quarters and leaves. "See?" says the barber, "what did I tell you? Dumb as a box of rocks that one".

A bit later the man leaves the barber shop and sees the same kid outside an ice cream store, and asks him "why did you take the quarters instead of the dollar?".

"Because", replied the kid licking his icecream, "as soon as I take the dollar, the game is over".

While your joke is humorous, it's not particularly applicable to this situation. The affidavit only highlighted four "infringing" songs, and according to TechDirt, every single one was explicitly provided to the blog by the record label (or in one case, the unsigned artist) for promotional purposes.

The fact that they refused to post links to all but the permitted songs does actually demonstrate a desire to comply with intellectual property laws.

    Note that he says all were pre-release, but only three were copyrighted.
Argh! Copyright attaches to a work upon creation, not upon sale, or slapping (c) on it.

Interesting that you know that, while a Federal Agent - who is actually charged with enforcing the law - does not.

Unpublished words are not automatically copyrighted. If someone steals your unpublished work, and publishes it themselves, you will be out of luck unless you registered the work.

If you scribble a silly poem called "Green Froggy Dance!" on a soggy napkin and tuck it under your mattress, that work is still copyright. It's not registered, so your damages in case of infringement aren't the same, but nonetheless your work is your own.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright

"In all countries that are members of the Berne Convention, copyright is automatic and need not be obtained through official registration with any government office. Once an idea has been reduced to tangible form, for example by securing it in a fixed medium (such as a drawing, sheet music, photograph, a videotape, or a computer file), the copyright holder is entitled to enforce his or her exclusive rights. However, while registration isn't needed to exercise copyright, in jurisdictions where the laws provide for registration, it serves as prima facie evidence of a valid copyright."

Actually, unpublished works are still copyrighted. The issue here is that you have to show that you created the work if you want to make a copyright claim, which is difficult if the work is unpublished and not registered.

Not so. While courts require registration before they'll enforce your rights, the process itself demands nothing more than an assertion - under penalty of perjury - that the work in question is yours. And that's all.

A lack of publication or registration is only a problem if you're challenging the legitimacy someone else's copyright. And yes, that's considerably harder to do - as well it should be.

Does this mean that it's easy to register the copyright for unregistered work that isn't yours? Yes it does. But actually doing so is insanely stupid, since getting caught means opening yourself up to both a civil lawsuit from the rightful owner, as well as Federal perjury charges. And since you're involving the courts themselves in your fraud, you can expect whichever judge you face to be especially unforgiving.

Unsurprisingly, knowingly falsified copyright registration is not a widespread problem.

That's true. "not copyrighted" and "unable to prove it" are unfortunately basically synonymous.

Aside: how come people are voting this comment down so hard? Even if it's incorrect, it's not nasty or ill-spirited. Shouldn't it be left at a "1"?

It's factually incorrect and demonstrates a lack of basic understanding of the subject. It seems that HN frowns upon that.

On the other hand, I doubt that the downvotes represent the opinions of a huge number of users (as it doesn't show lower than -4). If enough people agree with you, then they'll upvote it to +1 (I would say that it belongs at 0, but that's just me).

fwiw, nothing ever shows lower than -4, but based on karma, if it weren't for that cap, it'd be -10.

The MPAA and RIAA get DHS to shut down a hip-hop blog under false pretenses -- and DHS botches the job. Is this the greatest country in the world or what?

This just goes to show you why we normally have due process. When you don't follow the process, you fuck things up badly.

They did follow due process. An industry body bought off some politicians who passed a law making attacks on their business model a matter of national security.

That's been standard procedure since at least 1776

This is just insane to me. At what point is domain seizure increasing or defending homeland security? I cannot see where these seizures are at all part of DHS's stated goals when the department was created.

How is it that our government agencies continue to limitlessly aggrandize their power & reach with no end in sight and, apparently, no recourse or prevention? Perhaps we need to return to constitutional amendments protecting the People and the states from unfettered power grabs--such as an amendment that expressly prohibits a federal agency of the executive branch from increasing its reach without due congressional process & said increase being legislated and passed by both houses, like any other law.

I'd like to believe it's an idea that liberals, conservatives, independents, and anyone else can actually agree on. But ... we're talking about people here. And politics.

DHS was created by consolidating several existing agencies. One of them is ICE, which has traditionally had a role fighting counterfeit goods and copyright infringement. Yes, it's bad that they suck so badly at their job -- but this isn't a "power grab"


I keep hearing the ICE-is-tasked-with-counterfeiting-so-this-isn't-a-power-grab argument.

Whatever the merits of the general argument, you need to find a different term for you say it isn't. Because it certainly is a power grab by the normal use of the phrase.

We haven't seen mass domain seizures previously and this ability certainly is power. It's been done with dubious legality, dubious constitutionality and just dubiously, so it's effectively a grab.

If the Department of Agriculture started arresting people for using too many pesticides in their home gardens, it would be a power-grab even though the department sure-enough is tasked with regulating agriculture.

How about "The ICE is tasked with policing counterfeiting so this isn't overstepping the bounds of their jurisdiction?" Quibbling over the words "power grab" seems rather pointless.

The summary of an article can matter a lot these days. If someone says "TL;DR - not a power grab", it may make someone who would otherwise react against it do nothing.

This is a significant increase in state power. I hardly oppose any summary which gives any other impression.

You meant heartily.

Yes I did ;<

yes, although the power aspects are important from a political perspective: DHS as an organization is weak and unpopular right now.

> DHS as an organization is weak and unpopular right now.

Gee. I wonder why.

The government is doing this because the record labels are lobbying them to do so. While the incompetence of the agencies in question are laughable, the enemy isn't DHS as much as the lobbyists from the recording industry who are increasingly talking the government into spending tax dollars to enforce their civil rights, which they should have to continue funding on their own.

Writing this off as a government power grab is not seeing the forest through the trees.

> who are increasingly talking the government into spending tax dollars to enforce their civil rights, which they should have to continue funding on their own.

That doesn't excuse govt, or folks who think that govt should have such powers.

> Writing this off as a government power grab is not seeing the forest through the trees.

It's not a govt power grab so much as it is yet another abuse of govt power.

And to think that many people think that govt should have more power, apparently on the "if we just give them enough power, they'll start behaving" theory.

Hm, the author seems to use "Occam's Razor" as "most charitable explanation".

Better put by Hanlon's razor, "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

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