NRT: Imperial over-reach

Written By: - Date published: 10:55 am, October 15th, 2012 - 10 comments
Categories: capitalism, copyright, International - Tags: , , ,

Should have reposted this last week – NRT on a bizarre and scary US legal opinion. Thoughtcrime will be next…

Imperial over-reach

Since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, we have lived in a world of nation-states. One result of this is that we have a multitude of different legal jurisdictions, with different laws. Generally, nation-states respect this; laws stop at the territorial limit, unless the regulated conduct directly involves their own citizens or is one of a limited number of areas where we accept (and expect) all nations to assert universal jurisdiction (e.g. torture and war crimes).

Not any more. The US has just asserted universal jurisdiction over every corporation in the world, on the grounds that those not doing business in the US are “purposefully” evading US jurisdiction. Yes, really:

In May, Megaupload’s lawyers asked that the charges be thrown out because the company had no US address and could not be served with court papers. However, in his ruling, Judge O’Grady said: ‘It is doubtful that Congress would stamp with approval a procedural rule permitting a foreign corporate defendant to intentionally violate the laws of this country, yet evade the jurisdiction of the United States’ courts by purposefully failing to establish an address here.”

Yesterday, Dotcom, who is facing extradition from New Zealand to the US over the case, questioned the judge’s ruling that the company was intentionally avoiding the jurisdiction of the US and should be liable for trial in a country where it was not based.

‘US judgement scary for non-US companies: By not establishing a US office you “purposefully” chose to evade US jurisdiction?’ he said on Twitter.

Its a pretty weird ruling, but one entirely in keeping with the US’s imperial sense of itself. Hopefully it will be overturned on appeal. If not, well, I look forward to our Department of Labour prosecuting US companies for their violations of NZ labour standards and union rights.

10 comments on “NRT: Imperial over-reach”

  1. tracey 1

    the scary thing is it is very believable. It is how the us sees the world. Its how they can demand free trade deals from others while protecting its own

  2. Bill 2

    Would have been nice to provide some context. Ridiculous and contentious as it is, it’s not a ‘catch-all’. It’s connected to, and limited to, use of the internet and US copyright law.

    As long as a website’s address ends in .com or .net, if it is implicated in the spread of pirated US-made films, TV or other media it is a legitimate target to be closed down or targeted for prosecution, Barnett said. While these web addresses are traditionally seen as global, all their connections are routed through Verisign, an internet infrastructure company based in Virginia, which the agency believes is sufficient to seek a US prosecution.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      all their connections are routed through Verisign,

      Which probably isn’t true either and I have NFI how that minor link would actually allow one nation to claim sovereignty over another.

      • Bill 2.1.1

        The argument goes that since Verisign is located in the US, that judging whether or not a crime has occurred is to be rightfully determined by the parameters of US law, ie – the activity in question took place within US territory/jurisdiction.

        And that’s why extraditions are sought. O’Dwyer (to take an example) didn’t break any UK law. But what he did, would arguably have been a crime in the US. And since TVShack was routed through the US (Verisign), ICE believe they have the right to prosecute under US law…in the US.

        Same argument goes (I guess) for Kim Dotcom. His connections would have routed through Verisign. So whether he broke any NZ law is irrelevent. He broke a US law on US ‘soil’…and his extradition can be sought on that basis.

        The fact that NZ and UK governments, among others, are toadying to this b/s is a separate matter.

        • PlanetOrphan

          Verisign only does root nameservers and ssl certs, traffic is not routed through Verisign.

          Ultimately the US are trying to ping people for using Domain Name Services full stop.
          Not legal or in keeping with the ethics of the internet in any way whatsoever.

          The world should start running it’s own root nameservers.
          I’m sure China and other larger countries have tried this , and been rebuffed …..

  3. Lanthanide 3

    When the US courts start cracking down on the use of off-shore tax havens like Ireland then I might have some sympathy for them.

  4. AmaKiwi 4

    Or Delaware, V-P Joseph Biden’s home state.

    Ever notice the US never complains about Panama as a tax haven. Panama is where the US launders its dirty CIA money.

  5. Jenny 5

    Talking of “imperial over-reach”

    By all the usual measuring sticks, the US should be supreme in a historically unprecedented way. And yet it couldn’t be more obvious that it’s not, that despite all the bases, elite forces, private armies, drones, aircraft carriers, wars, conflicts, strikes, interventions and clandestine operations, despite a labyrinthine intelligence bureaucracy that never seems to stop growing and into which we pour a minimum of $80bn a year, nothing seems to work out in an imperially satisfying way. It couldn’t be more obvious that this is not a glorious dream, but some kind of ever-expanding imperial nightmare.

    Tom Engelhardt

  6. Jenny 6

    “It’s a nightmare case for me & my family. But ultimately it will strengthen your rights & protect you better. My fight is your fight too.”

    Kim Dotcom via twitter

  7. Tom 7

    I believe that this situation requires a new strategy.

    1. Prime Minister John Key declares war on the United States of America.

    2. Prime Minister John Key immediately concedes defeat.

    3. Prime Minister John Key sues the United States of America in an international court for war reparations.

    There are historical precedents ..

    “The tiny (three miles by five miles) European Duchy of Grand Fenwick, supposedly located in the Alps between Switzerland and France, proudly retains a pre-industrial economy, dependent almost entirely on making Pinot Grand Fenwick wine. However, an American winery makes a knockoff version, “Pinot Grand Enwick”, putting the country on the verge of bankruptcy.

    The prime minister decides that their only course of action is to declare war on the United States. Expecting a quick and total defeat (since their standing army is tiny and equipped with bows and arrows), the country confidently expects to rebuild itself through the generous largesse that the United States bestows on all its vanquished enemies (as it did for Germany through the Marshall Plan at the end of World War II).”

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