So illegal music is now on par with drugs dealers and weapons? Your tax money at work enforcing private company’s profits.

The Technology Liberation Front: SWAT Teams Enforcing Copyright

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?

  1. Improbus says:

    Atlanta, again? The police are their own worst enemy. [heavy sigh]

  2. ECA says:


  3. Mark says:

    3. Unbelievable. Meantime, it looks like another Waco or Ruby Ridge happening here:

  4. Rick says:

    At some point the “kids” come out on top of this kind of thing…sucks along the way…but the long-run loser is going to be the RIAA…grab the closest teenager you can find and ask them…then look at the free, and popular (not crap) music that the smarter bands are giving away…as usual, the old giants that don’t get it get their asses handed to them…it just may take a round or two of this kind of hysterical junk.

  5. Paul says:

    Well, as long as we have our priorities straight in this country.

    Oh, and Pedro wins.

  6. Vinny says:

    You don’t often see “promiscuous” used in such a sense-

    “promiscuous use of SWAT teams”

    Must be itchy to wear that body armor on bare skin. What exactly are they using to batter down the door?

  7. Mucous says:

    RIAA headquarters: an example of a perfectly justifiable thermonuclear target.

  8. CanadianGuy says:

    Only in America!!!!

  9. tallwookie says:

    I’d like to the riaa try to get me – ive got a really nice collection of knives, and i keeps em really sharp

  10. Improbus says:

    I wonder when they will start using SWAT teams for traffic stops.

  11. Oil Of Dog says:

    If they want my Ipod they will have to rip it from my stone cold hand .

  12. Jeff says:

    I think this actually makes sense from a “weird” political perspective. A sensationalized media has created a fiction of “file-sharing” much the way they did with drugs and crime. So, therefore, it can be deduced that the only way to handle crimes against the “state” (drugs, crime, domestic terrorism, or pirating) is to allow the kid gloves off from law enforcement. If it is necessary to shoot a couple of people in order to get individuals to submit to the will of the state (so much the better).
    On a serious note, this is just getting out of hand. Using political legislation riders is one thing (unethical but…), but this is crossing the line. There is a civil way of conducting yourself in our society and this is not it.

    It is just more of the same, reactionary policies to make up the inability of law enforcement to stop international pirating and to a lesser extent domestic piracy aw well. In other words, it is basically FUD being spread by the media and recording industry (about a secret dark net that does not really exist). Sure people do pirate, however, the percentage of users that do is relative low, and is more reserved for regions of the world were economics “force” individuals to create counterfeit goods.

    While I am not familiar with this case, there have been a number of reports from various news agencies on these types of activities in recent months. It is just the usual tactic of fear in order to scare individuals into submission or compliance.

  13. Jägermeister says:

    To protect and serve... Now we know who

  14. Anonymous Coward says:

    Boys on the Hood!

  15. Mr. Fusion says:

    Someone will have some ‘splaining to do. A Federal SWAT team to execute a civil search?

  16. Jetfire says:

    Screw the Swat team at least they didn’t call in the F.B.I., Joint Terrorism Task Force. Check this story that was on Cincinnati local news tonight [ed: use for long urls. Please.]

    You’ll have to click watch this video to see the whole story. The only reason give by agents for the arrest is Pirated DVDs. The court records are sealed.

    When I saw this story I just had to post it here because the lead in was F.B.I., Joint Terrorism Task Force raid home and 2 business in connection with Pirated DVDs.

    The biggest scariest thing I see with how the RIAA actions. Is that main Police departments would love to have the power they seem to have on searches and filling Charges.

  17. SpammedALot says:

    Which will come first, putting Jack Bauer on to the tail of a kid burning a Beyonce copy or designating BitTorrent a terrorist weapon??

  18. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    The time violent revolution draws near…

  19. TJGeezer says:

    Pedro wins, but #13 has it right – they do this with overkill quite intentionally. Same reason they want us all to know they can use torture and secret prisons whenever they want to. It’s to intimidate the rest of us, and that really is the whole story.

    This morning I read on the BBC site ( ) about “new rules that could allow terror suspects to be imprisoned on the basis of hearsay or coerced testimony.” It’s not because they trust hearsay and testimony extracted by torture. They just want us all to know they can, and and winning to, do it.


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