MegaUpload, Piracy, and Due Process

We should be celebrating the arrests in the MegaUpload case. They show that large-scale copyright infringement can be investigated and acted upon under existing laws and treaties. They show that even without SOPA and such draconian laws, copyright holders can seek remedy.

Note: I say we should celebrate the arrests. I question the seizing of domain names (if this has indeed happened), and we should definitely watch the ensuing actions and investigation with interest. Will we see extradition? Under what laws? Will MegaUpload be found to be infringing, even if they have attempted to comply with DMCA laws? Some say they were lax at best.

I don’t know the answers to any of this, but I’m excited to see the developments.

Knee-jerk reaction against the arrests is unwarranted. We have to assume that due process has been followed, with USA authorities notifying local police of the charges and their severity (my understanding is anything resulting in a sentence of at least 12 months is grounds for extradition).

Of course if it turns out NZ police acted with favouritism toward USA authorities, then we should be vocally angry.

Until then, we should be happy that copyright holders are using the laws already available to them, and we should push back against further changes, using examples like MegaUpload to show why new laws are not required.

We should also use this example to heap further pressure on copyright holders to provide us with better ways to obtain their content legally. Sites like MegaUpload and would be less likely to exist if users like myself could obtain current TV and movies, DRM-free, when we want it.


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  1. There are a number of possible reasons why we might be concerned with these arrests, even if we support the rule of law and due process.

    1) The US’s IP laws are far more draconian than those in NZ. Will we end up arresting people for matters that would be trivial or not illegal in NZ?

    2) Can we trust the US justice system any more? It seems to be corrupt and has given up on key freedoms that we still hold to be important in NZ.

    It remains to be seen whether this case is “good” or “bad” by our lights, but while I agree that we shouldn’t leap into decrying these arrests, I also believe we shouldn’t be too quick to praise them.

  2. It’s certainly an improvement that some due process has been followed here I guess.

    The fact that the site – non-infinging content as well – has been taken down bothers me hugely, especially as an occasional user of sites like MegaUpload for completely legitimate purposes.

    MegaUpload had a posted DMCA process and have claimed a number of times to handle notices as required by the law. If that was the case then the takedown is even more troubling as it could show that many other sites could be at risk.

    As for the actual arrests themselves I will certainly be troubled if reports that police arrived at Dotcom’s house by helicopter to perform the arrests. That is not standard operating procedure I wouldn’t think – was it some sort of show for US officials?

  3. While it would be easy to knee-jerk and assume the US are bullying some noble file host and MPAA or whatever are using the law as their puppet.

    But in reality, these people knew exactly what they were doing, and the court documents show this quite a few times, with email exchanges between the owners about which uploaders to reward with cash for their DVD rips, and even the owners themselves trying trawling for copyrighted content.

    MegaUpload was dodgy as hell, and it caught up with them, they weren’t just accidentally hosting some pirated content, they were actively encouraging it and facilitating it.

  4. Reading through the indictment now – they knew what they were doing. Financial rewarding uploaders, ignoring multiple URL take-down requests. Still trying to figure out the money-laundering aspect which I guess is the one they could be extradited for

  5. Interesting to read now that there were 76 Police officers involved in the raid, including the Armed Offenders Squad. Also four FBI agents.

  6. The domain name has not been seized, only the servers (that were in Virginia, US).

    Not sure how the international laws work as far as the arrests are concerned. But as far as seizing the servers, I think that is all allowed under current law with due process.

  7. If I was Rapidshare, I’d be moving to Belarus tomorrow.

    And then what? The more they crack down on P2P, the more users will pay for file locker services. The more they crack down on file locker services, the more they will move beyond the reach of US extradition.

    And then there will only be one play left: SOPA.

  8. Very well said Ben. I like your insight into the whole case and highlighted how they managed to get this far without implementing all of the “crazy” laws that they want to put in place.

  9. “Of course if it turns out NZ police acted with favouritism toward USA authorities, then we should be vocally angry.”

    sup brah?

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