ICE admits year-long seizure of music blog was a mistake

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We've covered Operation In Our Sites, an ambitious project by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to seize the domains of dozens of websites allegedly used for copyright infringement, in great detail here at Ars. In a piece earlier this year, we noted the curious case of Dajaz1.com, a hip-hop music blog that didn't seem to fit the conventional definition of a "rogue site." When the domain was seized last year, the site's owner expressed confusion, showing the New York Times copies of e-mails documenting that some of the allegedly infringing songs on his site had been sent to him by artists and labels.

Now, as first reported by Techdirt, the federal government has tacitly admitted it screwed up in seizing Dajaz1.com. After holding the domain for a year, the government returned the domain to its owner. ICE spokesman Ross Feinstein told Ars that "the government concluded that the appropriate and just result was to decline to pursue judicial forfeiture."

So what took so long? Feinstin wouldn't elaborate on why the domain was seized or why the government had changed its mind. But Dajaz1's attorney, Andrew Bridges, described to Techdirt a positively kafkaesque process for getting his client's domain name back. After seizing a domain, the government has a relatively short window of time to either begin formal forfeiture proceedings or return the domain. But Bridges says that the government refused to return the domain even after the clock ran out.