A large file-sharing link site dedicated to rap and hiphop music and news has been raided by the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The servers of RapGodFathers, a site with close to 150,000 members, were seized and moves put in place to take over its domain name.
Following raids earlier in the year which took out several sites and domain names connected to the streaming of Hollywood movies, we can now report fresh Department of Homeland Security / Immigration and Customs Enforcement action against a site in the music sector.
Acting on a search warrant issued on 23rd November and signed by United States Magistrate Judge Jeff Kaplan, DHS and ICE agents arrived at a Dallas datacenter Tuesday with orders to take down the 146,500 member RapGodFathers site (RGF), seize its servers and gather evidence on its owners, administrators and moderators.
The site had been in operation since 2005 and the authorities were authorized to take evidence relating to all activities right back to April 1st of that year.
“We only link to mixtapes, albums in the hiphop/rap genre,” a senior staff member told us this morning.
“Lots of those mixtapes help new artists become much bigger for example Drake, Chamillionaire, Wiz Khalifa. It also gives the users to listen to an album before buying it to judge the quality. Almost 99% of the time if people on RGF liked the album and posted positive comments, that given artist had a big success.”
RGF carries no direct downloads and hosts no copyright material itself but instead links to file-hosting websites such as RapidShare and MegaUpload.
We were informed that while the site had received DMCA takedown requests in the past, this was a fairly rare event and there was certainly nothing to indicate the authorities might be interested in the site.
“We ALWAYS removed links connected with any DMCA requests so this is a big surprise to us and our host because we collaborated to get all the links removed asap,” our source added.
In common with previous raids where U.S. authorities have taken control of domain names, the staffer at RapGodFathers believes the same is now happening to them.
“Our domain name is being seized. It’s blocked now with the registrar (Namecheap).”
RGF are now trying to get back on their feet with a new domain name, are keeping people informed via their Twitter and Facebook accounts and are hoping that someone with hosting outside the United States will get in touch.
If the message wasn’t clear previously, it should be by now. File-sharing link sites that remain in the United States or have their domains registered there should be prepared for trouble, even if they believe they are DMCA compliant.