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It’s not stolen – I just borrowed it without asking

Written By: - Date published: 3:23 pm, February 23rd, 2014 - 51 comments
Categories: blogs, crime, law, police - Tags: ,

Much discussion has taken place around the legalities of bloggers accessing data and then publishing it on the web. We’ve heard plenty about the complexity of this issue from the bloggers’ perspective. But little about the complexities facing bloggers’ targets or police investigators.

For this post I will use the Blomfield v Slater example as a case study.

A compliant was made to the police about the illegality of Mr Slater possessing and publishing copies of Mr Blomfield’s property. They declined to lay charges because of no clearly defined reasons in the law. I think that they were mistaken in their understanding of the Crimes Act.

I have had access to the court documents that Mr Blomfield has filed in his defamation proceedings against Mr Slater. I am a supporter of Mr Blomfield’s. I have assisted him with his case and the issues relating to Mr Slater. But this is my opinion of the law as I see it, backed up by some very intensive research.

Judge Blackie asked a very pointed question of Counsel for Slater last year during the defamation case: “So did Mr Slater steal the hard drive?” Mr Williams (lawyer acting for Slater) responded: “No he did not.” Judge Blackie rephrased the question: “So you’re telling me that Mr Blomfield gave it to you or said you can have it? I will ask you again, did Mr Slater steal the hard drive?”. Mr Williams did not respond.

After reading this exchange, I asked Blomfield: “How did Slater get the hard drive?” His response: “I don’t really know. One of Mr Slater’s sources, Mr Warren Powell, had it then it ended up with Slater”. I have read Mr Blomfield’s initial witness statement to the NZ Police and this is what he told them then. As always, Slater has different and varied twists in his explanations. None appear to have any legal validity.

Background

Mr Blomfield is upset and concerned about Slater’s possession and use of material relating to Blomfield, and this is at the kernel of the case.

The material comprises all Blomfield’s physical files that were stored in two filing cabinets in an office he shared with Warren Powell of Hell Pizza. It relates to his private businesses, including confidential client, financials, and commercial data, as well as computer equipment containing electronic material such as his emails, personal files and data, including numerous photographs and videos.

The material essentially comprises almost every record (hard copy or electronic, business or personal) of Mr Blomfield’s life for the previous 10 years or so. In this digital age it is not unusual for the content of people’s computer hard-drives and data storage facilities to contain their most personal and private details.

It is difficult not to feel considerable sympathy for someone in a situation where another person(s) sees fit to gain access to and copy such material without any permission or authority from the owner of the material to do so. Equally, it would be surprising if such action did not constitute a criminal offence.

Mr Slater’s actions

There does not appear to be any dispute that Cameron Slater has made for himself an electronic copy of all of the material belonging to Matthew Blomfield.

Slater’s blog-site posts headed “Blomfield files: free to a good home” (dated 14/5/12 but now removed) stated, inter alia, “I have now copied all of the Blomfield files onto a portable drive. It is just over 1Tb of juicy dirt.” Other material posted or referred to by Slater on his blog-site can only have originated from Blomfield’s personal material (both hard-copy and electronic).

In the submission for Mr Blomfield a strong argument has been made that, in copying Mr Blomfield’s private and personal data (i.e. physical and electronic data which comprises tangible and intangible “property” as defined in section 2 of the Crimes Act 1961), Slater has committed at least three Crimes Act offences:

Property provided to Slater copied was “stolen”

To prove that Slater committed the offence of receiving under s246 of the Crimes Act, it is first necessary to prove that the property he received was stolen or obtained by other criminal means, and that Slater knew, or was reckless, about the manner in which it came into his possession.

The evidence I have reviewed does not positively establish the identity of the person who took Blomfield’s property and made it available to Slater to copy, or the circumstances in which he took possession thereof (although the evidence obtained by Mr Blomfield gives a strong indication of this person’s identity). Accordingly unlawful “taking” cannot be established.

Having possession or control over the physical property and in some way making the property available to Slater to copy would seem to satisfy the ordinary usage of the broad terms “using or dealing” in s219(1)(b) of the Crimes Act. The decision in Davies (Daniel) v Police [2008] 1 NZLR 638 confirms that there can be a “use or dealing” with intangible property (see also Adams on Criminal Law at CA2.29.01).

However, dishonesty must also be proved, on the part of the provider and the receiver of material obtained without its owners’ consent. It would be difficult for the person who made the material available to Slater to argue any belief that its owner Blomfield consented to it being uplifted and provided to Slater.

Intent to deprive the owner permanently of the property or any interest in the property must also be established (see Adams at CA219.05). That the person made the property available to Slater to copy, together with the fact that the person never returned or made any effort to return the physical property to Blomfield would prima facie be sufficient evidence to satisfy the “intent to permanently deprive” requirement.

There is also a strong argument in terms of s219 (2) (a) that there was an intent to deal with the property in such a manner that it could not be returned in the same condition (i.e. uncopied); and that in terms of s219 (2) (b) there was an intention that the owner be deprived of a property interest in the property (i.e. the right to exclusive possession of the electronic material contained therein).

Property provided to Slater was unlawfully received

To prove that Slater unlawfully received the property (or part thereof) as well as proving that the property had been stolen, it would also need to be proved that, at the time of receiving, Mr Slater had knowledge thereof or was reckless as to the manner it was obtained and provided to him. .

Given the nature of the material, and the fact that it was not provided to him by Blomfield (or anyone authorised by him), it would be difficult to argue that Slater was not at the very least reckless as to whether the material was stolen when he received and copied it.

Slater may argue that he never “received” the property. Receiving requires possession and control over the property. On the evidence it is difficult not to conclude that Slater did not come into physical possession of the property, at least temporarily, for the purposes of copying it. On his own website, Slater indicates that he has copied both electronic and hard copy material owned by Blomfield. It would require at least temporary physical possession of the original hard copy material to make copies.

In terms of electronic files, Slater has made the admission: “I have now copied all of the Blomfield files onto a portable drive.” Even if this was done from a supplied electronic copy of the original Blomfield files, a strong argument can be made that Slater’s “copying” of a copy can properly be found to be an act of dishonesty. This argument is set out in detail below in addressing whether a charge of theft can be proved against Mr Slater.

Does Slater’s act in copying material obtained dishonestly constitute theft?

The offence of theft as amended in 2003 now also includes unlawfully dealing with property that was previously considered to be conversion. The actus reus element in s219(1)(b) of “using or dealing” with the property is broad enough in its plain language to cover copying, and as already set out case law confirms that there can be a “use or dealing” with intangible property. Adams notes (at CA2.29.01) that criminal dealings with intangible property can now be the subject of charges of theft, obtaining by deception and the like.”

The first mens rea element for theft is dishonesty, which is focused on the absence of belief in consent to carry out the use or dealing with the property from a person entitled to give such consent. The only person entitled to give such consent here is Blomfield and, accordingly, there is no basis for Mr Slater to argue any such belief in consent.

The second mens rea element is that the actions are done without claim of right or belief that the acts were lawful. While Slater may seek to adduce evidence of a claim of right there is no obvious claim of right on the face of the facts here for copying the personal and private material belonging to Blomfield, or for viewing it, or for posting blogs about it.

The third mens rea element is intent to deprive the owner permanently of the property, or any interest in the property. While it may be submitted that that there was no intention to permanently deprive because the original was not taken or deleted but merely copied, there is a strong argument that copying the property does (and should) amount to depriving the owner permanently of an “interest in the property”. This interest is the owner’s right to have exclusive possession and control of the property and data that has been provided to a third party without the owner’s consent. The argument would be along the following lines:

A major protection of property interests is the criminal offence of theft and its derivative offences. This protection has a long history of responding to new forms of property mirroring change in societal relations and technological developments.

The 2003 changes to New Zealand’s “Crimes against Rights of Property” in the Crimes Act were a direct response to uncertainties in the application of property offences, in light of rapidly developing computer and networked technologies.

The focus of theft law has been moving from the protection of possession towards the protection of the right of property. The property right is not a single right but a bundle of rights drawn from private law and economic practicalities, which can accommodate differing conceptions of ownership and intangible property. (see Wayne Rumbles, “Theft in the digital: can you steal virtual property?”).

One right comprising part of the bundle of rights in relation to material held on electronic media, is the right to exclusive possession and use of the material. If another person is able to copy the material for themselves they gain the same property interest as the true owner, whose property rights are thereby permanently reduced.

Today, there is no practical distinction between an electronic “original” and an electronic “copy”. Ordinary persons would consider the actions of a person who copies the private electronic data of another for themselves without permission to be “Data theft”. The term commonly used to encompass such behaviour.

I would suggest that taking a copy of private electronic data amounts to depriving the owner permanently of an “interest in the property” for a dishonest purposes is theft under the Crimes Act.

Has Slater accessed a computer system for dishonest purposes?

Section 249 of the Crimes Act makes it an offence to directly or indirectly access a computer system to dishonestly obtain any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit or valuable consideration, or cause loss to any other person. (italics added)

Section 248 defines “computer system” as including, inter alia, a computer, 2 or more interconnected computers, and includes all related input, output, processing, storage, software, or communication facilities and stored data.

To “access” includes to receive data from, or otherwise make use of, any of the resources of the computer system. This broad definition of “access” would appear to cover copying material on a computer system; and the words “directly or indirectly” would make any defence that Mr Slater may have never been in physical possession of the property, untenable.

The physical items on which the electronic data was stored here (computer, hard drive, etc.) are part of Blomfield’s computer system: his historic electronic data is stored on them; and the broad definition of “computer system” in the act includes “stored data”.

Section 249 requires obtaining (or attempting to obtain) property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration; or causing loss to any person. While it might again be argued that no “property” has been obtained – merely copies made – the wide definition of “property” in section 2 of the Crimes Act would appear to cover copies.

Accessing a computer system without authorisation by Mr Slater

Section 252 of the Crimes Act makes it an offence to intentionally directly or indirectly access a computer system knowing that there was no authorisation to do so or being reckless as to the same.

For the reasons above, there is a strong argument that Slater has directly or indirectly accessed Blomfield’s computer system. Unlike s249, with s252 dishonesty does not need to be proved. It just requires proof of intentional accessing and proof that the person knew they were not authorised to access the system (or were reckless). There appears to be no basis for Slater to argue that he was authorised to access the computer system where clearly no authorisation was given by Blomfield. At the very least that his actions were reckless.

Summing up.

The New Zealand Police have been asked to review the decision not to issue criminal proceedings in relation to the taking / copying and using of Blomfield’s personal and private data.

I personally think that what Mr Slater has done is unconscionable and the thought of an individual having access to every aspect of someone’s entire adult life is appalling. In this fast changing world the NZ Police – and the law itself – are understandably struggling with the complexity of the new electronic age.

The Slater v Blomfield battle continues but its progress to date indicates that – at the end of the day – some landmark decisions may be made on the complex nature of intangible property, of theft, of receiving, and of dishonest use of data obtained without its owner’s consent that will establish new rules of engagement in the era of digital media.

We can but hope. Because what Mr Slater has done here is morally, ethically and, I contend here, legally wrong.

Guy Fox

lprent: This post is subject continuing legal processes. So it will be fully moderated.

51 comments on “It’s not stolen – I just borrowed it without asking”

  1. RedLogix 1

    And the Prime Minister has “weekly chats” with this man.

    And is happily photographed with him.

    And our media glorify him.

    Sick.

    (I don’t give a rat’s patui about Slater – it’s that a large swath of our political and media establishment are protecting him because his toxic, malign bullying makes him a useful proxy.)

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      The MSM sets the acceptable boundaries and slant on the entire political discourse for the country. Unless the Left is able to bypass the MSM and break out of the right leaning media strait jacket that it has been set up in, it will continue to struggle to present any real alternative vision for the future.

  2. Tracey 2

    kevin spacey could play key in a movie but who plays slater.

    thanks for this post, will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

    • felix 2.1

      Paul Giamatti or Luis Guzman.

      Either of them would have to put on a LOT of weight of course.

    • rhinocrates 2.2

      Terry Jones – have you seen Mr Creosote in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life?

      (I don’t mean because he’s fat, but because of everything else – the greed, the offensiveness, the vomiting, the explosion.)

    • Sosoo 2.3

      Nah. You’d need CGI to replicate Cam.

  3. irascible 3

    And Judith Collins has to phone him to find out if it permissible for her to give an interview to The Herald about said Slater???
    One does have to question the judgement and ype of political bed fellows the National-Act govt keep company with.

  4. tricledrown 4

    If Camoron Slater is found guilty
    Of being in posession of stolen goods and accessing someones personal files it could mean Gaol for the twice convicted criminal.

  5. Barnsley Bill 5

    No mention or denial of the revelations published about Blomfields methods or activities arising from disclosure of the information. Why is that?

    • lprent 5.1

      Why is that?

      Assuming that they aren’t just arising from Cameron Slaters characteristic style of lying, bombastic over stretching of any facts, or simply because he is usually too stupid to understand what he is looking at (all are far more likely than him being accurate). Then it still doesn’t excuse the offenses of theft, receiving, and illegally accessing data.

      Do you have a point or is this you snorting on your keyboard again? You appear to be valiantly trying to excuse a simple theft for gain.

    • Judge Holden 5.2

      I bet a trawl through your private files would reveal some pretty juicy revelations about your past too eh, Barnsley? Would it be fair game if they were nicked and given to a psychopathic wanker do you think?

  6. tamati 6

    Warren Powell is a cunt. When I was an employee at a Hell Pizza franchise he used to send racist emails to the franchise owner complaining there weren’t enough white staff. (We had mostly Asian staff)

    Any staff member could see these emails as they were available on our front counter computer. I know that some of the employees were extremely upset when they read them.

    I wish I had forwarded the emails so I could have leaked them to the media.

  7. Barnsley Bill 7

    As you well know I have spent some time in close proximity to one of the protagonists in this case and it is my opinion based on observation as this has unfolded that the other protagonist is no saint. Not a fellow traveler of yours or any who write here.
    while I usually disagree vehemently with almost everything posted on this site I am not normally left confused as to why you would publish something in defense of somebody who would normally viewed as a class enemy by you and yours. And indeed would probably be your poster boy for all that is wrong with a free market, light handed regulation economy.

    • lprent 7.1

      …the other protagonist is no saint. Not a fellow traveler of yours or any who write here.

      So? Going back to my original question – how does this excuse Cameron indulging in criminal activities? Then trying to throw the mantle of being a “journalist” over it. Or for that matter trying to hide his crimes as a blogger?

      And indeed would probably be your poster boy for all that is wrong with a free market, light handed regulation economy.

      Again – what does that have to do with blubberboy indulging in criminal activities? I guess that you’re just too terrified of looking at the idea of a legally ordered society?

      In case you hadn’t noticed this site has always behind the rule of real law rather than the mythology of lynch law that you appear to profess. We write large posts or reprint them from other sites about the legal issues. In these digital days that includes the questions of digital property.

      That means amongst other things that even Cameron Slater should face up to the consequences of his criminal activities. Quite simply no-one is above the law.

      Now presumably if there was any actual criminal activity on Mr Blomfield’s part, then presumably complaints have been made to the police? If those weren’t correctly handled then let me know with documented details. I’d be particularly fascinated at the supporting documentation.

      • Ross 7.1.1

        He is a journalist. Not necessarily a good one but one nonetheless.

        • lprent 7.1.1.1

          Mickysavage tends to agree with you (especially about the “not … a good one”).

          I do not.

          Quite simply I think that he is trying to cover himself with the few protections granted to journalists without taking any of the responsibilities that are meant to prevent them from using that protection with a reckless disregard for others. In particular I find that his taking money from enemies to attack others is unconscionable.

          If that is the degenerate standard that journalism and journalists currently profess to, then I think that they need to have their protection on sources stripped out of the legal system.

          But it is a pretty simple choice for journalists to make.

          The reality is that if he and his “publisher” don’t act to the responsibilities of journalism then he is not one. I’d point out that on this site we don’t profess to be journalists (or actually want to be in most cases). But most of the time we do tend to act to similar levels of responsibility. It is simply good practice to do so if we want to survive over the longer term. That is why you also don’t find us in court on a regular basis defending our actions and getting convicted of being a sociopathic dickhead.

          • Ross 7.1.1.1.1

            I tend to agree. However, journalists are not necessarily always responsible and trustworthy. Slater doesn’t have a monopoly on bad journalism, though he’s arguably the worst offender.

            Steven Price, a media lawyer, seems to suggest that Slater is a journalist. Even if the Court rules that he can call himself a journalist, it may not be that helpful to his case.

            http://www.medialawjournal.co.nz/?p=622

          • Anne 7.1.1.1.2

            I think he is trying to cover himself with the few protections granted to journalists without taking any of the responsibilities that are meant to prevent them from using that protection with a reckless disregard for others. … I find that his taking money from enemies to attack others is unconscionable.

            Nothing new in that lprent.

            Back in the 1970s and 80s a woman infiltrated the Mt.Albert Labour Party and for up to 10 years she spied on numerous Labour activists and politicians. Helen Clark was one of them. She covered her ‘ass’ by getting herself Justice of the Peace status. I mean, who would think that such fine, upstanding members of the judicial system could be involved in unlawful behaviour.

            She was working undercover for the NZ Police. (your niece knows a bit about that sort of thing). She and her undercover mates (one in particular I know of who also infiltrated the Party) were responsible for all manner of dubious and, in some cases, very serious misconduct – conduct that would have seen them spend a bit of time in gaol had they been caught. But of course they were never caught…

            No surprises that John Key’s mentor, Muldoon was in office most of the time, and no surprises the same kind of thing is happening under John Key.

        • don 7.1.1.2

          A journalist does not take money to push certain points of view. Cameron does.

          http://www.thepaepae.com/as-playful-as-he-is-psychotic/26510/

          Listen to the audio. The video is no longer available. Cameron admits demanding money from PR companies to push their points of view. We’ve already had – um – media personalities say it is okay to push paid opinions because they are not journalist, but entertainers.

          Can’t have it both ways/

        • Don 7.1.1.3

          He’s not a journalist. Journalists do not demand money from PR companies to push certain points of view. Cameron does.

          http://www.thepaepae.com/as-playful-as-he-is-psychotic/26510/

          Listen to the audio – the video is no longer available. Cameron states he has demanded money to push opinions. He then tried to defend himself by claiming he didn’t actually get any. Maybe the IRD was interested?

          We’ve had Hoskings and others claim it was okay to take money from Sky City because they were not journalists – but entertainers.

          You can’t have it both ways.

          Odd, though. Hoskings takes money and entertainment from Sky City, and is back on TV1. Shane Taurima borrows a meeting room and is gone. If only he’d taken free hospitality and held his meetings at Sky City ….

    • Tracey 7.2

      My understanding is someone has posted a legal analysis of certain aspects of the crimes act and how this case might fit their criteria. I didn’t read into that any personal comment on the character f Mr Blomfield by the author.

      ” normally viewed as a class enemy by you and yours. And indeed would probably be your poster boy for all that is wrong with a free market, light handed regulation economy.”

      Perhaps because the legal parameters of this particular case extend beyond some ideological politic ax grinding and could impact on many more people and organisations than Mr Blomfield?

      Could you ever find yourself disagreeing with Slater or Farrar over anything at all?

  8. Matthew Blomfield 8

    “No mention or denial of the revelations published about Blomfields”

    The Ministry responded to an OIA request I made saying they spent 114k with Meredith Connell (Crown Lawyers). I was investigated by every government department sometime more than once as a result of Slater and his cohorts laying complaints. Those investigations are now complete. I have filed documents at Court showing that nobody will be taking any further action. What Slater said about me was made up and that is why I’m doing this, to prove that.

  9. Bazar 9

    Property provided to Slater copied was “stolen”:

    The law clearly defines theft according to the crimes act section 219 as taking control of.
    If you had an apple, and i took that apple from you. Thats theif because you no longer have the apple.

    In slaters case he made a copy. Thats not theif. The definition is quite clear on this point, as Blomfield still has his data.

    Property provided to Slater was unlawfully received:

    Same reasoning behind the law applies. The law is defined by the goods being transferred.
    The data wasn’t transferred, it was copied.
    Thus this section isn’t applicable either for the data.

    The obvious flaws:
    To work around this obvious requirements, you’ve substituted the data with the physical container the hard-drive.
    If you want to pursue Slater over the theft of a hard-drive, sure maybe this has grounds to proceed.
    Otherwise you’re trying to convict him of a crime that isn’t applicable.

    Stealing isn’t the same thing as copyright infringement. That should be painfully clear to anyone in the legal industry.

    Accessing computer system for dishonest purpose

    This might have some grounds, but without knowing how he came into possession of the data, i feel you have questionable grounds to proceed.
    Its also based on if slater acted on “dishonesty”, as otherwise the law doesn’t apply. And such an assumption is also questionable, as he may have felt he was entitled to the data.

    Being a media reporter, if he was given the data, its not unreasonable to expect there was no “dishonesty” on his part.

    But this is subjective, and i expect no lawyer would be certain on this without it going to court.
    But i’d say its in Slaters favour

    Accessing computer system without authorisation

    This is the only law that i feel has a reasonable chance of actually being unlawful. But again it depends in large on how slater came into possession of the hard-drive.

    • lprent 9.1

      In slaters case he made a copy. Thats not theif. The definition is quite clear on this point, as Blomfield still has his data.

      I think you mean theft. However your interpretation that taking a copy of data is not theft would come as a shock to many people who thought that they owned intellectual property. Specifically creators and publishers of books, music, video, blog posts, and even emails.

      I believe that Mr Blomfield doesn’t have his own data. I can’t recall any mention of the documents and disks being returned to him. This is part of the reason that the only parts of the discovery motion in the defamation that Slater was so desperate to fight were all to do with who supplied him access to them.

      Being a media reporter, if he was given the data, its not unreasonable to expect there was no “dishonesty” on his part.

      I think that I described my view of him being a journalist with qualified privilege under the evidence act (what you are groping for with your brand new definition of a “media reporter”) as something like “he isn’t a journalists arsehole”. That is because he appears to be incapable of carrying the responsibilities that come with that role.

      However under the 2003 changes to the Crimes Act (as the post points out) merely holding copies of that information without authority is both illegal and doesn’t appear to have any protection for journalists.

      I think your opinion about the law hasn’t caught up with the changes made to protect data.

      • Bazar 9.1.1

        “your interpretation that taking a copy of data is not theft would come as a shock to many people who thought that they owned intellectual property. Specifically creators and publishers of books, music, video, blog posts, and even emails.”

        You’re right, it probably would come as a shock.
        But the list of professions listed didn’t include lawyers because lawyers (should) understand the law.

        As i explained before, theft isn’t copyright, and lawyers should know so.
        Calling copyright infringement as theft shows you don’t understand the difference, which is night and day.

        Theft requires property to be lost or transferred from one party to another. That is basically the legal definition of theft.
        When someone makes a copy, the original party doesn’t lose anything. If nothing is lost, how can there be theft?

        We do have protections on what can be copied. We call that copy right, copyright, and its legal right granted to all authors of creative works.
        Copyright infringement is the violation of that right in an act or use of material you weren’t authorized to publish/copy.

        If you still can’t understand the difference, Google it.

        “I think that I described my view of him being a journalist [as he isn’t, so gets no such perks]”

        The only way he can be guilty of violating section 249 is if he acted BOTH dishonestly AND without claim of right.

        This is very subjective, and has very deep meanings that i’m not well versed enough to resolve. Let alone any precedents i’m unaware of.

        But i’ll put it this way, it worked for the vandals of the waihopai spy base. They thought they had claim of right, as they went on a rampage, and the courts agreed.

        And even if Slater is deemed not to have claim of right, we go back to “dishonesty”.
        Does his belief that hes sees himself a media reporter and its his duty mean he acted honestly?

        These are all questions i don’t have the answer to, and my opinion is that anyone who thinks they do and isn’t the presiding judge is probably full of themselves.

        “However under the 2003 changes to the Crimes Act (as the post points out) merely holding copies of that information without authority is both illegal and doesn’t appear to have any protection for journalists.”

        And if you read what i said, you’d see i said this was the only point that was likely to stick.

        “I think your opinion about the law hasn’t caught up with the changes made to protect data.”

        Coming from someone who doesn’t know the difference between theft and copyright infringement, that’s a bold statement to make.

        • lprent 9.1.1.1

          It is pretty clear especially when you read Hansard that the Crimes act was extended to cover digital property including the right to hold exclusive control over who could access it.

          The only reason I brought up copyright was because you clearly we’re raising it as a false path. However there are rights of township of intellectual property on physical property as well in the Crimes Act.

          “The only way he can be guilty of violating section 249 is if he acted BOTH dishonestly AND without claim of right”

          Reread the post carefully. Use the links. There is a reason that the author said that they thought Slater was chargeable under at least three of four sections of the crimes act.

    • spector 9.2

      The arguments to justify why Cameron isn’t a criminal seem to be the same ones Cameron is currently using to say Kim Dotcom is. Maybe John Key can explain the difference :)

    • Matthew Blomfield 9.3

      Some points to note:

      (1) The original hard drive was given to the SFO.
      (2) Slater posted on his facebook that he was at the SFO on or about the time they got it.
      (3) I described the hard drive to the Police as a Western Digital with fading on one side as I had it sitting next to a window.
      (4) I then obtained a court order for its return directly to a data lab.
      (5) The drive was as described to the police.

      It is very easy to make some assumptions and decide that Slater had the original however, I will not be doing that until I have evidence as to that fact. The Police have the means to check these facts.

      Above also applies to the physical files.

      Lastly what Iprent said re changes to the Crimes Act

      Another point of note is that I obtained a hard drive which contained copies of some of my files and on it was video’s of Warren Powell and his kid dated after my last contact with him and before the stories ran on Whaleoil.

    • tamati 9.4

      I doubt that Slater could be done for copyright infringement. Copyright is protect artistic works and emails certainly aren’t artistic.

      • lprent 9.4.1

        Copyright is protect artistic works and emails certainly aren’t artistic.

        Incorrect. Copyright with some variations for particular media automatically covers every written and most other media work from schoolkids essays to blogs except where the copyright is waived in some way. E-mails are also covered.

        • tamati 9.4.1.1

          If that’s true, could Don Brash sue Nicky Hager for copyright infringement?

          • lprent 9.4.1.1.1

            You’ll note that this post doesn’t mention copyright at all?

            There are various rules under copyright about how much you may quote or play from someone elses work (commonly known as “fair use”) with attribution. For instance this is what allows us to quote sections of material published in newspapers.

            I know that Nicky Hager is pretty careful about what he publishes to make sure that it conforms to the legal position.

            I haven’t looked, but I’d also bet that there are public interest provisions as well.

            Don Brash could have (and did) lay a complaint with the police. The problem with emails is that there is at least one recipient and frequently many. My understanding of it is that those recipients have been effectively been given rights to that emails content as well by the sender unless it is explicitly removed by legal waffle in the email (and even that is somewhat legally dubious as there is no agreement by the recipient).

            As I understand it, the actual source of the emails where the emails were taken and/or given from was never tied down. So there was no valid complainant. One or more of the valid recipients may have given emails to Nicky Hager and they’d have had a legal right to do so. Which incidentally is what I believe Nicky Hager claims.

            That uncertainty about source doesn’t apply in Mr Blomfield’s case as it is clear and admitted by Mr Slater that the material he worked off comes from a copies of material that Mr Blomfield had not given authority to access or copy. It means at the very least at some point that a simple theft of property happened under the 2003 amendments to the Crimes Act.

            Mr Slater is at least guilty of receiving stolen goods and probably quite a lot more – as the post says.

      • Tracey 9.4.2

        Wrong. copyright applies to anything created, not creative.

    • Tracey 9.5

      “Same reasoning behind the law applies. The law is defined by the goods being transferred.
      The data wasn’t transferred, it was copied.
      Thus this section isn’t applicable either for the data.”

      Could you provide your case law in support of this proposition?

  10. marty 10

    I for one am uncomfortable with The Standard being used as a vehicle to litigate a case that’s in the courts.Complainants don’t go to blogs to have their court case discussed while they are still trying to get the case processed through legal means.

    No matter how much you may dislike Slater personally, it does this blog no credit by trying to influence the courts.

    Everything is stated as fact, whereas none of us have any basis for knowing what is true and what isn’t. Worse, there is no process for having an error, lie or lie by omission corrected.

    I love coming here, but I really hope this is the last time you let this happen. I like to think we’re better than that piece of shit over at the Whale boil.

    This stinks :(

    • lprent 10.1

      Complainants don’t go to blogs to have their court case discussed while they are still trying to get the case processed through legal means.

      …by trying to influence the courts.

      From a blog? You do have a low opinion of high court judges which is where the civil defamation case is currently on appeal.

      However if you have a closer look at this post than the very brief glance you gave it, you’ll find that this was all about a criminal case that the author felt should have been pursued by the police. It is a civil case between Slater and Blomfield. So are you saying that the performance of the police shouldn’t scrutinised because of a civil case?

      After all the civil case isn’t likely to be over for several years. If I understand your odd position, you’re saying that the police position on a complaint should not scrutinized until then? Seems foolish to me. Not to mention that if they don’t take action on this then it is pretty clear that what the MPs intended back in 2003 (read the Hansard record) is not how the police are interpreting it (except of course when John Key is accidentally taped).

      Everything is stated as fact, whereas none of us have any basis for knowing what is true and what isn’t. Worse, there is no process for having an error, lie or lie by omission corrected.

      Read the links (took me a while to add them to the submitted unlinked post). All of the material in this post is in the links to the submitted public court documents except for the information about the police response to the complaint against Cameron Slater.

      The reason that this is being raised here is because it concerns bloggers, electronic data, police, and the legal position of them all. Are you saying that because this civil case involves all of them that we can’t comment on any of them?

      It seems to me that these are exactly the types of issues that should be discussed on a political blog. They all cut to the legal heart of the medium we’re working on. It is a hell of a lot easier to discuss them on a real case rather than a hypothetical. Which is of course why law schools discuss both real cases and current cases. For that matter why politicians do as well. They (like us) are just cautious on what gets discussed.

    • Tracey 10.2

      Unlike our PM I would be surprised to learn that our judges read political online blogs such as WO, TS or kiwiblog.

      To my knowledge no one has been prevented from posting the legal argument opposing that proffered in the Opening post? Bazar tried to masquerade as a legal opinion but fell short in a number of quarters BUT was nonetheless a useful piece for discussion of different aspects of copyright and IP.

      John Banks’ case has also been widely scrutinised on here, as has the DotCom stuff, do you find those posts offensive too?

  11. nadis 11

    I think it’s OK to discuss the case here on the grounds lprent points out, but not sure it’s wise for involved parties to air opinions and views. Every time I have been involved in litigation (as a witness or expert witness) I’ve been under strict instructions to stfu. No good can from it. No chance of managing a judges opinion, no possible upside, but you can certainly piss them off.

    • lprent 11.1

      No chance of managing a judges opinion, no possible upside, but you can certainly piss them off.

      That is indeed the downside. You’ll notice that Mr Blomfield has only offered clarifications to queries or what can readily be perceived as queries. Most of this is material that has been offered up in court in public view of the media. For instance as in this article in the mornings herald on sunday – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11208097

      It is also why I’ve never met or talked to Mr Blomfield or Mr Slater about this case. I’m not that interested in spending time in court testifying.

      Everything with Mr Blomfield has been over email and generally sticks to the topic of making the posts readable or clarifying some points.

      I have offered my personal opinions on Cameron Slater and his work as a blogger. However that is hardly public news – you only have to read my posts and comments on him to find that out. Anyone who wants to put that into evidence is welcome to do so.

    • Tracey 11.2

      Ah the stfu approach to getting to the truth of the matter.

      Mr Blomfield is a big boy, I am sure he has weighed up the pros and cons of posting anything. If he hasn’t then he will suffer the consequences, no one else.

      • Matthew Blomfield 11.2.1

        If the Police decided to charge Slater it would be their Court case not mine. I have limited my disclosure of details relating to the defamation case and will continue to do so. This is a opinion that was given to me from an individual who was surprised that the Police never charged Slater. I myself am pretty light when it comes to criminal law.

  12. tricledrown 4
    23 February 2014 at 5:54 pm

    If Camoron Slater is found guilty
    Of being in posession of stolen goods and accessing someones personal files it could mean Gaol for the twice convicted criminal.

    So… that’ll mean Three Strikes?

    Hmmmm…

    Not quite what the Right had in mind when they passed that piece of legislation, I’m sure.

  13. One Anonymous Bloke 13

    The trend in recent times when personal information was accidentally disclosed had been for people to “get on to their newspaper”, he said. “I’d like people to be thinking about data they come across accidentally in the same way they might treat a wallet they find in the street. You . . . take steps to ensure it gets back to the rightful owner.”

    DomPost quoting John Edwards.

    John Key’s mate isn’t a journalist. He has this material illegally. I can’t see any benign reason for him to make a copy. In fact he freely admits his malice.

    I think John Key should phone him up and get him to do the right thing.

  14. captain hook 14

    Hybris is wating for slater and I reckon it cant be that far away.
    he plays fast and loose with all the laws of this country and soon enough he will trip up.
    although its hard to trip up a slug being as they are so low to the ground.
    maybe just a good spray of raid.

  15. SHG (not Colonial Viper) 15

    The author of this post is giving legal advice. What are his qualifications for doing so?

    [lprent: I can see where you’re heading.

    It is someone that knows how to read legislation. That could be anyone from a law student to me to a QC. It is completely irrelevant because there is no client relationship between the readers of this site and whoever it is. Basically you’re as usual simply full of stupid unthinking and pig-ignorant insinuation without bothering to explicitly describe what you are trying to say. It irritates me.

    Furthermore Mr Blomfield has no-one acting for him as legal representation. He is representing himself. You could have just read the post.

    I am a supporter of Mr Blomfield’s. I have assisted him with his case and the issues relating to Mr Slater. But this is my opinion of the law as I see it, backed up by some very intensive research.

    and

    I personally think that what Mr Slater has done is unconscionable and the thought of an individual having access to every aspect of someone’s entire adult life is appalling.

    Which is approximately the reason I’ve been assisting by bringing the questions incurred by Mr Slater’s arsehole behaviour as a blogger to more public attention.

    There are different rules when I’m moderating and forced to answer questions directed into the ether and therefore aimed at the site and myself. Banned for 4 weeks for being too coy to say directly what you mean, 4 weeks for asking a question that was clearly in the post, and 4 weeks for wasting my time answering your silly question. Lets call it the 19th of May ]

  16. Tracey 16

    who is he giving advice to?

    reads like an analysis to me.

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