On Friday (November 26), two popular hip-hop blogs, OnSmash and RapGodfathers, were seized by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and Homeland Security Investigations. Both sites appear to be under investigation due to claims of copyright infringement.
In a post dated November 25, RapGodfathers wrote, “Yesterday, Tuesday November 23, agents from the United States DHS/ICE showed up to RGF’s data-center and seized our servers. During the whole existence of the website, we always honored any DMCA requests but apparently in [the] US people are guilty before proven innocent.”
DMCA, short for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, is a federal law passed in 1998 that largely made the distribution of copyrighted materials—read: MP3s—illegal. Remember Napster? The DMCA shut down the original peer-to-peer (P2P) download site.
What’s most disturbing in the case of OnSmash and RapGodfathers is that both sites claim to have complied with any DMCA removal requests. In the case of OnSmash specifically, the labels themselves gave the site the song links which OS provided to the public. Nevertheless, both hip-hop music destinations now find their daily updates grounded to a halt, with the possibility of losing their domain names.
While RapGodfathers had their servers seized, Hof of OnSmash relayed that only their domain name has been taken over.
“Nothing other than our domain has been ‘seized’ and I still have yet to receive any official correspondence as to WHY THIS HAPPENED,” Hof wrote.
Since OnSmash is part of the New Music Cartel (NMC), a coalition of influential hip-hop blogs that include NahRight and YouHeardThatNew, do the feds intend on taking down their servers too?