It has been over two weeks now since the US Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency raided and seized the domains of 82 businesses accused of infringing on copyrights via their websites. While most of the businesses were selling counterfeit designer fashion products, a small segment were music blogs and file-sharing sites whose owners were stunned by the raids and are still waiting to hear why their operations were shut down.
One of those domain owners, Kevin Hofman of OnMash.com, spoke with the New York Times this week about his domain seizure and the mystery surrounding the event.
“I see myself as a legitimate source of content online, and I have no reason to believe that I was ever perceived as otherwise. If what I’m doing is so wrong and is harming the artist, then why is [Kanye West] retweeting stuff to two million-plus people?” Hofman, who has worked for a major record label in the past, said to the Times reporter. “It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
“To Joe Q. Public, ‘leak’ sounds like a bad word,” Hofman explains. “But if you’ve ever been in a marketing meeting at a record label, it’s ‘Hey, can you leak this to the blogs?’ Leak is now a marketing verb.”
Corey Smyth, manager of rappers and producers Lil Jon, Talib Kweli, and others backs up Hofman’s view: “The industry and my artists don’t have any issues with most of these sites. When you’re trying to get something out, this is where the kids go.”
Other music sites that were seized that same week include Dajaz1.com, RapGodFathers.com and rmx4u.com. Torrent-finder.com, a popular BitTorrent search engine, was also in the mix and has prompted similar sites to ditch their .COM domains in favor of others controlled outside the US.
The main point these site owners are trying to get across by going to the media is the fact that the DHS and ICE did not following any clear-cut laws or system of due process when going in and taking control of these domains. It’s difficult to fathom that, today in the United States, a business can be shut down by the government this way. The government owes these citizens answers.