January 29, 2007 | By Fred von Lohmann

DJ Drama: The Blog Coverage

The basic story has been widely covered: working with the RIAA, the Georgia police recently raided the studios of Aphilliates Music Group and arrested DJ Drama and DJ Cannon over the hip hop "mixtape" CDs that the studio is famous for. These are the same mixtapes that the record labels often pay DJs to create to promote their own hip hop artists.

In the aftermath of the arrests, the blogosphere is taking over the coverage, demonstrating its value as a medium that continues to cover events after many traditional journalists have branded it "yesterday's news" or "too complicated for our readers."

First, a number of sites have sprung up to contribute perspectives from inside the community of mixtape DJs and their fans. Free The DJs, for example, has posted the search and arrest warrants and an account by DJ Drama's sister:

"No one will ever be able to explain to me why the hell a SWAT Team of at least 30 strong went charging into the Aphilliates Music Group studio as if they were doing a major drug or an illegal arms bust? Why did they need to put my brother Tyree (DJ Drama) and his cohorts face down on the ground with guns to their heads? Did the agents need to ransack the studio, confiscate cd's featuring artist sanctioned original music not bootlegs, disc drives, computers, cars, ultimately stripping the studio of everything with the exception of furniture..."

Second, the legal bloggers have done a great job explaining what laws are at issue. This is not a copyright case (which would have involved federal prosecutors, not local Georgia police). Instead, the charges are under the "true names and addresses" laws that the RIAA's lobbyists have pushed through in most states, which require that sound recordings include the "true name and address" of the manufacturer and the performing artist. For more information on the issues raised by these laws and their application to the DJ Drama situation, read the excellent posts at madisonian.net, as well as the comprehensive treatment by the analoghole blog (1, 2, 3, 4).

Keep the DJ Drama bust in mind when the RIAA asks to expand state "true names" laws to include the Internet (as they did in California in 2004) and when the Department of Justice pushes for new "drug-war style" powers in the federal copyright law. Could music fans soon find SWAT teams on their doorsteps? Sounds far-fetched, you say? Tell that to DJ Drama.


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