War on Drugs

SWAT Meets Copyright


Supporters of SWAT tactics often argue that the number of times a SWAT raid ends in gunfire is extremely low—I guess inferring that SWAT raids aren't all that dangerous. In the past I have responded with something along the lines of, "That misses the point. We could start using SWAT teams to apprehend copyright violators or parking ticket scofflaws, too, and the percentage of raids ending in gunfire would be even lower. That doesn't mean it's a good use of SWAT teams."

Looks like I can't use that bit of hyperbole-for-effect anymore.

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.