Feds Ignore Due Process, First Amendment, Shut Down Thousands of Blogs
July 18, 2010
Once again, the Obama administration has violated the Bill of Rights. Earlier this month, the feds took down a free WordPress blogging platform and disabled more than 73,000 blogs. The action was completely ignored by the corporate media. The site, Blogetery.com, was told by its hosting service that the government had issued orders to shut down the site due to a “a history of abuse” related to copyrighted material.
In late June, Joe Biden and Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel said the government would move to take down sites offering unauthorized movies and music. “Criminal copyright infringement occurs on a massive scale over the Internet, reportedly resulting in billions of dollars in losses to the U.S. economy,” said Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Bharara’s office and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement launched “Operation In Our Sites” and executed seizure warrants against nine domain names.
Blogetery.com claimed the shut down of 73,000 blogs “was not a typical case, in which suspension and notification would be the norm. This was a critical matter brought to our attention by law enforcement officials. We had to immediately remove the server.”
“That seems odd,” notes Techdirt, a website that covers government policy, technology and legal issues. “If there was problematic content from some users, why not just take down that content or suspend those users. Taking down all 73,000 blogs seems… excessive.”
The DMCA’s takedown actions are a direct violation of the First Amendment under prior restraint. However, explains law professor Wendy Seltzer, because “DMCA takedowns are privately administered through ISPs… they have not received… constitutional scrutiny, despite their high risk of error.” Seltzer adds that “because DMCA takedown costs less to copyright claimants than a federal complaint and exposes claimants to few risks, it invites more frequent abuse or error than standard copyright law.”
TorrentFreak worries that the Blogetery.com case has set a precedent. “Fears remain… that this action is only the beginning, and that more sites will be targeted as the months roll on. Indeed, TorrentFreak has already received information that other sites, so far unnamed in the media, are being monitored by the authorities on copyright grounds,” writes a blogger on the site.