How a Little Hip-Hop Website Is Changing Government Policy

From Digital Music News:

This isn’t a story about an innovative startup; it’s not about a clever app. Rather, it’s about Dajaz1, a hip-hop website that was abruptly taken offline in 2011 by the US Department of Justice and RIAA – and kept down under extremely sketchy circumstances. Now, those actions are generating serious questions at the highest levels of government.

So who cares about a little, defenseless hip-hop website? Actually, Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-California), Jared Polis (D-Colorado) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), that’s who, not to mention early advocates like the EFF. The Congressional group is now asking why the DOJ and RIAA unfairly shuttered the domain name in the first place, and deliberately scuttled attempts at a fair trial despite an active Dajaz1 legal defense attempt. All are members of the House Judiciary Committee, and part of group that will make it much harder to do this again.

The inquiry comes as the RIAA is facing decreased contributions from the major labels, yet somehow justifying nosebleed salaries. But those compensation packages could be harder to defend, especially if Washington stops listening to guys like RIAA president Cary Sherman. And after a brow-beating like this one, it looks like the DOJ may have been snookered by a vastly oversimplified industry tale. Which is exactly what the Congressional group raised in a recent, open letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.

“The affidavit on which the seizure was based ultimately proved to be inaccurate. 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 for the seizure order, were given to the site owners by artists and labels themselves.”

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