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Dotcom

Written By: - Date published: 1:51 pm, February 9th, 2012 - 82 comments
Categories: im/migration, law and "order", police - Tags:

There’s a few interesting threads to the Kim Dotcom saga.

At the base is the question of copyright and the internet. Should merely providing a tool that can be used for piracy be a crime? Isn’t it time copyright law evolved to the reality of the internet, rather than ‘cracking down’ (the last refuge of failing systems). No law is ever going to stop people sharing files or consuming pirated materials. Most people now do it as a norm, many not even realising it’s illegal. When a social norm is illegal, it’s the law that is wrong. There are models out there that will allow artists to continue to make a living from their art, without futilely imprisoning people for breaking archaic copyright laws.

But, given the law is what it is for now, does that in any way justify the police’s raid – 70 armed officers, helicopters and the rest swooping on a family home and then parading that private property for the TV cameras? Have they learned nothing from the Tuhoe raids, or have they learned the wrong lessons?

And, if Dotcom really is such a bad guy, why did National let him come to live in New Zealand in the first place? He has a criminal record but ‘investing’ $10m in New Zealand was enough to get National to turn a blind eye. Why does buying $10m of Government bonds count as investing in New Zealand, anyway? It’s not an actual investment in building anything in our country, it’s like cash, but with the added advantage that it wouldn’t be held in a New Zealand bank where it could be frozen. Is that all the rich have to do to gain access to our country under National, wave a bit of money about? I guess so, it’s part of a pattern of behaviour from Warner Bros, to Crafar Farms, to Dotcom – if you’re a foreigner with cash, National is at your service.

82 comments on “Dotcom”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    “Should merely providing a tool that can be used for piracy be a crime?”

    In Dotcom’s specific case, he wasn’t “merely providing a tool”, but actively encouraging piracy in copyrighted materials and charging people money for memberships to his site to allow them to download this content more quickly.

    Note that one of the things with megaupload in particular is that unpopular files would be deleted after a certain time, while popular files would stay up. People who uploaded popular files also received benefits of some kind (free membership? faster speeds? don’t know).

    So megaupload in particular was designed to distribute copyrighted material and gave people incentives to do so.

    Edit: quick googling and I found this: “A good example of this would be their uploader reward program, which encourages users to distribute links to copyrighted material to as many people as possible in exchange for account credits, which can eventually be redeemed for cash or other rewards.”

    • shorts 1.1

      they could argue it wasn’t designed to distribute copyrighted material – popular files don’t have to be ‘illegal’ – by all accounts some musicians were using this system to giveaway their own music free and were recieving cash back from megaupload due to the files popularity (a clever business model for the present)

      in other words a legal distribution service that worked for the musician, their fans and megauplaod… but didn’t work for the record companies and/or rights holders

      of course much of the material on the site the users had no legal right to share – just like youtube and most other sites that allow users to ‘share’

      • Lanthanide 1.1.1

        I haven’t really followed the case much, but apparently there are emails written by Dotcom that he sent to others talking about how to encourage people to upload more copyrighted material, because that material is the type that is most in demand, which translates into more sales of memberships.

        Of course you’re right about the popularity thing not necessarily being copyrighted works, but this does make it harder to defend themselves. The pirate bay by contrast just hosts everything, it doesn’t single out more or less popular files in any way.

        • felix 1.1.1.1

          Actually the Pirate Bay doesn’t host any files, so not a good comparison.

          On your wider point I agree it’s pretty obvious that although megaupload could be used for any files, it wouldn’t have existed if not for the enormous amount of illegal distribution it enabled.

          Which still doesn’t address the rights and wrongs of the underlying copyright issues of course, but it’s too hot for that today :)

          • shorts 1.1.1.1.1

            their big mistake – having servers in the US, the emails could also if correct prove damning

            now if rights holder were to actually make their material available for sale globally in a manner the market demands (digital, on release, at an affordable price) maybe Mr Dotcom would only have a quarter acre section in Te Puke

            its a fascinating topic and one our local law enforcers would have been wise not to jump into on behalf of the US so quickly

          • Lanthanide 1.1.1.1.2

            I know the pirate bay doesn’t host files, what I mean is that the pirate bay doesn’t spotlight certain torrents more than others and doesn’t have a policy of deleting unpopular torrents etc.

            • Crashcart 1.1.1.1.2.1

              Yes Pirate Bay do. Just go to the top of the page and click Top 100. It will then give the option of Movies, Music and other catagories. It also allows users to become authenticated and rated as to how good a source they are.

    • Chris 1.2

      Encouraging people to upload popular material does not necessarily equate to encouraging people to upload copyrighted material. Many sites offer cash incentives to users uploading popular material, youtube is an example of this. There are many legitimate reasons why a website, file locker or other online service would want to do so.

      • felix 1.2.1

        Yeah it doesn’t necessarily equate, but in practice that’s exactly what it’s for.

      • Lanthanide 1.2.2

        In the case of youtube, when you become a youtube partner you are specifically required to only upload original content.

        • Chris 1.2.2.1

          I can’t find a copy of Megaupload’s terms of service, but I would imagine that would also include a clause about not sharing material which you do not have the legal right to.
          Statement from Megaupload: Activity that violates our terms of service or our acceptable use policy is not tolerated, and we go to great lengths to swiftly process legitimate DMCA takedown notices.
          A key concern here is that legitimate business practice are being used as proof of illegal activity. Another example of this is that the fact that Megaupload censoring it’s top 10 files list is being used as proof of illegal activity, when a case against Isohunt is using a non-censored list is also being used a proof of illegal activity.

        • shittake 1.2.2.2

          you’re making it more obvious comment by comment that in fact you know nothing about how these systems work

    • infused 1.3

      That’s not correct. It is for any media.

  2. brybry 2

    I dont understand why this guys business has been shutdown, his assets frozen and his house siezed before he has been found guilty of anything. Should this not happen after a trial that finds he has broken a law? Can the cops do this to me on the suspicion that I have commited a crime?

    • sthnjeff 2.1

      Ever heard of Mark Hotchin? He has not even been charged with anything!

    • tsmithfield 2.2

      “I dont understand why this guys business has been shutdown, his assets frozen and his house siezed before he has been found guilty of anything.”

      That seems pretty weird to me as well. If this guy is found not guilty, then he has lost truckloads of income from a business that hasn’t been proven to have broken the law. This seems like guilty until proven innocent to me.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.3

      Ever heard of criminals with healthy nest eggs because the assets weren’t seized before they were found guilty? That’s the reason why we now have a law to appropriate assets associated with criminal activities.

      I really don’t have a problem with assets being seized in conjunction with a charge just so long as they’re returned in an equitable state if the one charged is found not guilty.

      • Rusty Shackleford 2.3.1

        What about lost income? Shouldn’t he be reimbursed for that if found not guilty?

        • tsmithfield 2.3.1.1

          Also, shouldn’t he be allowed to retain enough income at least to defend himself?

          • Draco T Bastard 2.3.1.1.1

            That’s not even an issue. If found not guilty the estate will be returned and he can pay his lawyers.

            Personally, I think the lawyers should be paid for by the state anyway. If found not guilty then the defendant isn’t out of pocket and if found guilty, well, the state gets to keep all that was appropriated.

            • Colonial Viper 2.3.1.1.1.1

              Estate returned?

              Nah, Dotcoms biggest asset is his business: his client base, operations and associated data. The Feds have allowed that to be all destroyed as a going concern – BEFORE he is found guilty by a jury. Interesting eh.

              So his business has been taken away from him regardless of whether he is guilty or not, and best case he’s left with a big house, a swimming pool, a few toys and some flash cars. But no income and no business. And all his legitimate employees and clients? Just collateral damage from this ‘law enforcement’ action.

              What a joke. The kleptocracy gets what the kleptocracy wants.

        • Draco T Bastard 2.3.1.2

          I did say equitable.

  3. Richard Christie 3

    I seemed to have missed seeing dozens of police armed with semi automatics, sledgehammers and helicopters attend the arrest of the principals and the securing of evidence in the wake of all the other corporate and financial collapses we’ve had recently.

  4. tc 4

    Welcome to the 51st state of the USA….what NZ law has he broken whilst being in NZ ?

    • felix 4.1

      Just the laws of taste and style.

    • Te Reo Putake 4.2

      NZ artists have been ripped off by Dotcom.

    • vto 4.3

      Well this track is as applicable today in NZ as it was in 1986 in the UK. Listen and turn it way up …

      • shorts 4.3.1

        why are there so very very few artists produing similar commentaries in todays world – songs like this and amny others from a wide range of acts were my political education as a young dumb middle class lad

        I blame the guvment

        • Draco T Bastard 4.3.1.1

          There probably are, you just never get to hear them as the MSM doesn’t want stuff like that on as it causes people to question the ruling clique.

          • Rusty Shackleford 4.3.1.1.1

            One of the articles that came out right after he was arrested said that he couldn’t be extradited because the charges weren’t serious enough, but in the very next paragraph said he will likely be handed over to the Americans anyway with nary an explanation. Can’t remember who wrote it. It was in the herald, at least.

  5. Rusty Shackleford 5

    The govt actively destroying the work of millions of people (all of the legal files on Megaupload) in order to protect the interests of a favored group. Just par for the course as far as the leviathan state goes.

    • McFlock 5.1

      But isn’t the state merely protecting the property rights of the entertainment industry, Rusty?

      • Rusty Shackleford 5.1.1

        Ideas aren’t property. If I take your land or possessions then you don’t have them anymore. If I copy your idea, you still have your idea to do with as you please.

        • Te Reo Putake 5.1.1.1

          The boys in the Patent Office are going to miffed to hear that, Rusty.

          • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1.1

            Rusty appears to be IP ignorant.

            Rusty, a little drawn squiggle can be considered IP and will be defended to the hilt in the courts, don’t you know.

            If I copy your idea, you still have your idea to do with as you please.

            Not sure how you can do that if someone else has stolen the commercial potential of your idea. Come now man you’re better than this, THINK for a second!

            • Rusty Shackleford 5.1.1.1.1.1

              “a little drawn squiggle can be considered IP and will be defended to the hilt in the courts, don’t you know.”
              I’m fully aware of this. The state shouldn’t be using the resources of the people in a waseful manner like this.

              “Not sure how you can do that if someone else has stolen the commercial potential of your idea. Come now man you’re better than this, THINK for a second!”

              How could they steal the commercial potential? Absent IP laws, you are still free to develop it if you wish.

              • Colonial Viper

                How could they steal the commercial potential? Absent IP laws, you are still free to develop it if you wish.

                *Facepalm*.

                • Rusty Shackleford

                  So monopolies are good now?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Give the inventor or creator a 4 or 5 year head start. Then let others come in and innovate and improvise on that base.

                    • Rusty Shackleford

                      A leftist with an internally inconsistent ideology. Well, you could knock me down with a feather.

                      Let’s protect one guy simply because he had an idea first at the expense of innovation and efficiency. Good job. You know that most of the people who are issued patents are giant firms who already have a “head start”, right?

                    • McFlock

                      somewhat intrigued by your position here Rusty. What’s the incentive to innovate if others can simply copy you but without the research effort?

                    • Rusty Shackleford

                      People didn’t need an incentive to innovate before the invention of patents. They’ve been around since forever but were usually just a way of rulers to confer benefits to favored subjects. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_Monopolies

                      It has only been in the last 100 or so years that they became the norm for all new inventions. http://mises.org/daily/4848

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      The problem with that is that several people may have the idea at the same time. The protection goes to the one who gets to the patent office first which effectively steals the idea from the others.

                      Of course, patent isn’t copyright but copyright shouldn’t be confused as ownership either.

                    • McFlock

                      Indeed?
                      The middle ages were known for their massive R&D investment. /sarc

                    • Rusty Shackleford

                      Yes, that is a huge problem with the idea of patents and there are probably thousands of examples of this happening. We all know the case with the telephone. Edison was notorious for it too, I think.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      @McFlock
                      The motivation to create has always come from purpose and not from monetary gain. The problem isn’t that people won’t be motivated but that people will become demotivated by seeing others benefit from their work while they don’t. I happen to believe that there’s a better way to prevent this than the present patent/copyright system – it tends to be called commun1sm.
                      The purpose remains, the free-flow of ideas would no longer be restricted and a few people wouldn’t be in the position to steal from others as we have in capitalism.

                    • McFlock

                      To a certain degree I agree with you DTB. I’m just curious as to why a free-market champion would not believe in intellectual property at all – it would seem to me that under a market model the development costs end up being  paid by the person who most needs to innovate, but then everyone who can afford to wait simply copies the innovation. The innovator gets no market reward.
                         

                    • Colonial Viper

                      People didn’t need an incentive to innovate before the invention of patents.

                      Hey two dimensional thinker, you’re quite right of course, and most of those innovations before patents were treated as trade secrets inaccessible to most and which acted to stifled innovation even further.

                      You really don’t understand the fundamentals behind patents.

                    • Rusty Shackleford

                      “I’m just curious as to why a free-market champion would not believe in intellectual property at all”

                      Because if it has to be legislated for then it probably isn’t part of the market.

                      “and most of those innovations before patents were treated as trade secrets inaccessible to most and which acted to stifled innovation even further.”
                      Yes, guilds used centralized power to keep out competitors. Same as some businesses today.

                    • McFlock

                      “Because if it has to be legislated for then it probably isn’t part of the market.”
                        
                      Like physical property ownership?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Because if it has to be legislated for then it probably isn’t part of the market.

                      Sure, because the markets function so much better since the US exempted modern derivatives from regulations and exempted large amounts of financial trading from having to occur in transparent exchanges.

                      Hahahahahahahaha as if the big market players want real transparency and efficiency in the markets they manipulate, which Austrian lala land is this?

                    • Rusty Shackleford

                      ‘Like physical property ownership?’
                      After all this time, surely that should be taken as a given.

                      CV, of course the players in the derivatives markets don’t want transparency. I don’t know what that has to do with Austrian economics.

                      The banking/financial sector isn’t a free market either.

                    • McFlock

                      But property rights do need to be legislated. Otherwise the govt would not be able to protect them. And surely a “sale” in a market is simply an exchange of property rights?

                       
                       

                       

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Well maybe some legislation and regulation would help force the big market players to adhere to free market rules, eh? 😛

                      Bottom line is the Austrian system of free market economics you advocate for has never successfully helped any country achieve prosperity; it was not useful to Japan, Germany, US, Singapore, etc. they did it all their own ways.

                    • Rusty Shackleford

                      No, I agree. It seems to be best for the govt to legislate for property rights.

                      Having said that I could imagination a situation where it would be unnecessary. Just don’t legislate for defending your property forcefully. In the same way that we don’t legislate for a million other things.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      A leftist with an internally inconsistent ideology. Well, you could knock me down with a feather.

                      You do realise there is no real world survival value to a consistent ideology, right? I hope that hasn’t escaped your attention.

                      You love 50% off sales, but does that mean you have to buy something from every 50% off sale in town? You love Porsches, but the updated Boxster just doesn’t have it, do you have to buy one any way? You love chocolate ice cream but tonight you decide to order the pav instead – are you now a bad inconsistent lefty?

                      Mature up a bit bro neither the bible nor the world work to a “consistent ideology”.

                    • McFlock

                      Rusty, you’re good with the slogans from Rand’s Little Green Book, but they don’t stand up to analysis.

                      e.g. “Having said that I could imagination a situation where it would be unnecessary. Just don’t legislate for defending your property forcefully. In the same way that we don’t legislate for a million other things.”
                         
                      What the hell does “Just don’t legislate for defending your property forcefully” even mean? That the government role is to protect property rights, but not to the point of if the threat to your rights uses force? Or to not legislate against someone defending their own property rights by using lethal force?

                    • Rusty Shackleford

                      At what time did those countries follow Austrian ideas? I would say the US after the Civil war moved in that direction* and that time in history proved to be one of largest growth periods in history.

                      *
                      -Abolished central bank.
                      -Cut federal spending.

                    • Rusty Shackleford

                      You obviously don’t know much about the epithets you spit. I’ve said I’m against protecting IP. Rand was very much in favor of defending IP. She wrote a novel about it. The Fountainhead, I think (I’m not sure, I haven’t read it).

                      “to not legislate against someone defending their own property rights by using lethal force?”
                      This.

                    • McFlock

                      You obviously don’t know much about the epithets you spit. I’ve said I’m against protecting IP. Rand was very much in favor of defending IP. She wrote a novel about it. The Fountainhead, I think (I’m not sure, I haven’t read it).
                         
                      Meh.
                       
                      “to not legislate against someone defending their own property rights by using lethal force?”
                      This.
                         
                      Interesting worldview – possessions are worth more than the lives of others.
                       
                       
                       

          • Rusty Shackleford 5.1.1.1.2

            Yea, people tend to hate being put out of a job.

            And, it’s as massive industry.
            http://mises.org/daily/4848
            “In 2008, about 485,000 patents were filed in the United States; about 185,000 were issued or granted or approved. As of the end of 2008, there were about 1.2 million patent applications pending for examination at the Patent Office.[2] There are about 2.5 million live US patents right now — patents that are enforced, that can be infringed. IBM, for example, one of the largest patent procurers, was awarded over 4,000 US patents in 2008. They hold about 40,000-50,000 live patents at present.”

          • Rusty Shackleford 5.1.1.1.3

            Yea, people tend to hate being put out of a job.

            And, it’s as massive industry.
            http://mises.org/daily/4848
            “In 2008, about 485,000 patents were filed in the United States; about 185,000 were issued or granted or approved. As of the end of 2008, there were about 1.2 million patent applications pending for examination at the Patent Office.[2] There are about 2.5 million live US patents right now — patents that are enforced, that can be infringed. IBM, for example, one of the largest patent procurers, was awarded over 4,000 US patents in 2008. They hold about 40,000-50,000 live patents at present.”

            [lprent: Pays not to copy paste your replies. It triggers my moderator instincts about trolls. ]

            • Rusty Shackleford 5.1.1.1.3.1

              Sorry, I put it in the wrong place twice. It should be under Te Reo Putake’s post.

              [lprent: :) NP. ]

      • Colonial Viper 5.1.2

        In fact the entertainment industry is using the State as its own personal enforcement tool. Also seen with SOPA, PIPA etc. The private sector has bought the machinery of US government.

        • Rusty Shackleford 5.1.2.1

          The larger and more powerful that machinery comes, the more tempting and lucrative it becomes to exploit it.

          • Colonial Viper 5.1.2.1.1

            Make it unexploitable.

            Public funding of election campaigns. Donation limits on individuals and organisations. Limiting who elected office holders can work for, for 5 years after leaving office.

  6. Rich 6

    I was just wondering if by taking 10mil of his dollars as payment for residence, the government becomes complicit in money laundering.

    • Richard Christie 6.1

      NZ Govt has effectively been selling NZ passports for decades.
      For some obscure reason they get all outraged and righteous about it when any other tiny pacific nation dares to do so too.

  7. Steve 7

    Let’s say a dodgy guy goes to Hirepool and hires a crowbar. False name, false ID, stolen Credit Card.

    He then smashes a Jewelery Shop window and takes the goods. He smashes a Computer Shop window and takes the goods. He smashes a Music Store window and takes the goods.

    Does Hirepool get taken to Court for providing the tool? No.

    Mr Dotcom is a test case. Why did the FBI do this in NZ? Cheaper, that’s why

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      And complicit right wing government.

    • felix 7.2

      Your analogy would be more betterer if Hirepool set up a branch right outside a gang pad and had a big sign up saying “Special Rates on Burglary Tools”.

      Yeah yeah I know you can use sites like megaupload for legal sharing but in reality almost no-one does and everyone knows it so let’s not get too lost in the hypotheticals.

      • Rich 7.2.1

        Or, you know, “Fast Fours and Turbos” (if they are still in business).

        How many of their customers buy a hotted up Scooby or Legacy and drive within the law? None at all?

  8. gorj 8

    Right or wrong, the fact is every time one of these sites gets shut down, 10 more pop up. Waste of government resources much like the war on drugs imo.

  9. infused 9

    The whole thing is bullshit and stinks to high heaven.

    I love how SOPA was shut down, few days later, bam.

    I really hope he gets off.

  10. Huginn 10

    Enabling

    If I Google ‘Download Hell on Wheels’, Google will come up with a page of links to sites from which I can download pirated material.

    That’s enabling.

    Youtube is full of songs and pieces of film uploaded by fans. Much of this is in breach of copyright. I use Google to locate this material.

    If Google is taken down the way that Megaupload was, then for Google that means closing down Gmail and the possible destruction of any information that may have been kept on Gmail.

  11. M 11

    The truth on SOPA AND PIPA – the entertainment and the IT industries taught people how to pirate:

    http://www.oilfreefun.com/search?updated-max=2012-02-02T21:10:00-08:00&max-results=7

    Mike says fight back:

    http://www.oilfreefun.com/

  12. bob 12

    If Iran hates the US so much, why don’t they setup a server farm and put ALL the good movies on it free to download? That should bring the US to their knees no?

    LOL@US being run by companies

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