SWAT Teams Enforcing Copyright

by on January 17, 2007 · 12 comments

Radley Balko, who has tirelessly publicized the problems created by the promiscuous use of SWAT teams, reports that federal police in Atlanta have used a SWAT team to help the recording industry enforce copyright law. Even worse, the target wasn’t even a commercial piracy operation:

Last night, a federal SWAT team assisted the RIAA in a raid on the studio of Atlanta musician DJ Drama.

This local news report says the locally famous mixtape DJ is under investigation for piracy. But Drama’s supporters say the DJ is a mix artist, not a bootlegger. They say news footage of the raid shows RIAA officials boxing up only recordable CDs filled with mixes, not bootlegs of retail CDs (the local news reporter seems to conflate the two as well).

Assuming for a moment that RIAA and federal officials do indeed know the difference between a mash-up DJ and a bootleg operation, and that they did find evidence of actual piracy in the bust, there’s still the problem of why RIAA officials were participating in a police action, and why a SWAT team was used to raid a professional studio under investigation for a nonviolent, white-collar crime.

Quite so. It’s not like this is a fly-by-night operation selling CDs out of the back of a truck. This is clearly not the sort of problem that justifies dramatic police raids. If the RIAA thinks DJ Drama’s activities violate copyright law, they have plenty of civil law remedies available that don’t involve Gestapo tactics.

Also, check out the gratuitous smearing of the two as drug dealers and gangsters. A police officer comments that “In this case, we didn’t find drugs and weapons, but it’s not uncommon for us to find other sorts of contraband when we execute a search warrant.”

If they didn’t find drugs or weapons, why did this factoid merit a mention in the story?

  • Lexington N. Concord

    Pssst, Tim, it’s a story because SWAT teams are now making copyright enforcement raids.

    Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Policing in America.

  • Lexington N. Concord

    Pssst, Tim, it’s a story because SWAT teams are now making copyright enforcement raids.

    Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Policing in America.

  • http://FiftyOneFiftyOne.com di1

    Its a story because they shouldn’t have been raided in the first place. These guys are being paid by the label, most artists could only hope to have a mixtape from Drama or Cannon. Its a story because the RIAA attempted to smear them by saying they are pirating commercial CDs. Its a story because the RIAA is not helping the artists as they proclaim.

  • http://FiftyOneFiftyOne.com di1

    Its a story because they shouldn’t have been raided in the first place. These guys are being paid by the label, most artists could only hope to have a mixtape from Drama or Cannon. Its a story because the RIAA attempted to smear them by saying they are pirating commercial CDs. Its a story because the RIAA is not helping the artists as they proclaim.

  • http://123.com Chas. Anonymous

    You should know that aside from piracy, many of these so-called “artists” are merely criminals laundering money. How can you tell who they are? If they perform “music” that doesn’t require talent, such as rap or techno, there’s a good chance that they’re using their music enterprise as a means to launder drug money.

  • http://123.com Chas. Anonymous

    You should know that aside from piracy, many of these so-called “artists” are merely criminals laundering money. How can you tell who they are? If they perform “music” that doesn’t require talent, such as rap or techno, there’s a good chance that they’re using their music enterprise as a means to launder drug money.

  • Aeon

    Following the links to some sort of reputable source, I found the following — with a video.

    http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/myfox/pages/News/Detail?contentId=2083928&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=3.2.1

  • Aeon

    Following the links to some sort of reputable source, I found the following — with a video.

    <a href=”http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/myfox/pages/News/Detail?contentId=2083928&version;=1&locale;=EN-US&layoutCode;=VSTY&pageId;=3.2.1″>http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/myfox/pages/News/De

  • Techranman

    Chas, if you think mixing techno takes no skill, i would ask you to try it. It doesn’t take just 5 minutes. I takes me, just as a local artist, up to a month to get songs just right!

  • Techranman

    Chas, if you think mixing techno takes no skill, i would ask you to try it. It doesn’t take just 5 minutes. I takes me, just as a local artist, up to a month to get songs just right!

  • http://www.djethemusicmaster.com Ellis Morris

    I think DJs should not sell music because it hurt the artist that try to get out in the industry.now I think every artist need a DJ to do its shows.I really hope that this will stop soon.Iam a local DJ and I know how hard it is to get out there and be sucessful.it takes time and patients.

  • http://www.djethemusicmaster.com Ellis Morris

    I think DJs should not sell music because it hurt the artist that try to get out in the industry.now I think every artist need a DJ to do its shows.I really hope that this will stop soon.Iam a local DJ and I know how hard it is to get out there and be sucessful.it takes time and patients.

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