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.


Questioning ACTA

Copyright_symbol_9InternetNZ, and others, have created a website to consolidate information regarding ACTA and its impact in New Zealand. Activity around ACTA is not slowing down: ACTA negotiations are heading to New Zealand in April, and the MED is holding a Q&A session next week. I’m submitting a couple of questions in absentia, as documented below.

What is New Zealand’s negotiating position on the various components of ACTA?

This, to my mind, is the key question. ACTA negotiations are being held in secret. The NZ Ministry of Economic Development (MED) is representing us in these negotiations. As such, we need to know what position the MED is taking into the negotiations on our behalf, and whether this position is representative of our economic, cultural, and philosophical requirements.

As with any international treaty, the terms of ACTA are up for negotiation. I’d like to know what negotiating position the NZ MED is taking into the ACTA talks on our behalf. Why is New Zealand entering into ACTA, and what do we expect to get out of it, other than protection of New Zealand products and copyright (which are already protected by international law)?

What provisions does ACTA make for protection of personal privacy and freedom of speech?

Based on information to date, it is hard not to assume that the majority of ACTA provisions relating to copyright infringement are designed to protect large copyright holders. What (if any) counter provisions are in place to ensure that these terms do not result in degraded privacy (e.g. deep packet inspection) for individual internet users?

Given the public and political reaction to the proposed S92a legislation, what provisions are in place to require evidence and recourse in the event of a “3 strikes” requirement from ACTA?

Additionally, what is the MED’s position on ACTA’s notice-and-takedown provisions, and specifically the documented chilling effect caused by abuse of such a provision?

If ACTA is implemented in its current (leaked) form, what steps are being taken to ensure legitimate internet use is not impeded?

There is a blistering pace of change in entertainment and the internet. New business models are emerging. Creators and artists are discovering and utilising new direct sales channels, and many have found value in allowing more open use of their content to generate ticket and merchandise sales.

What steps are being taken to ensure that the implementation of ACTA does not adversely affect these artists and business models? How does the MED propose, for example, that legitimate and infringing uses of similar content are differentiated? Are there any provisions in ACTA that protect individual content creators from predatory and discriminatory treatment by corporations?

What do you think?

If you want to add to my queries or comment on them, please reply below, or directly on the site.

How to use my content in other places

Update: I have changed my license to a “non-commercial” license. But of course just as the CC license says, you can have any conditions waived simply by contacting me.

I love the internet. It’s all about creating and sharing content. I’m more than happy for you to re-use my work on your own site, or perhaps “remix” my work (hey, we can all use editing help). There is one caveat: you must attribute the original source to me, preferably by linking to my site.

This is all outlined clearly by my Creative Commons license, linked at the bottom of all of my pages.

What not to do

If you want an example of what not to do, you can use, a site owned (I presume) by Flip Video (and therefore Cisco). They have lifted one of my reviews in its entirety and pasted it on their site. Perhaps surprisingly, this is not actually against the terms of my license. Where they have failed abysmally is they have given no attribution whatsoever. There is nothing on the page that suggests the content was created by anyone other than Flip themselves.

If you have a poor moral compass and need additional reasons to not steal content, it might pay to see the buzz generated by this within social media circles inside a couple of hours. Flip Video has an open social media strategy, so it’s easy to post on their Facebook wall, for example. A search for “flipnz” on Twitter also uncovers a couple of choice comments.

The sad thing is, it would have taken all of about 10 seconds to provide an attribution link on the original page. I wonder how much time Flip Video and their PR company will spend dealing with this today?

I’m not going to grace Flip or Cisco with a link, but the evidence is in the image below. I’m sure you can find the site while it’s still up.

This not cool.

How to use my content

It’s pretty damn easy. Use my content, but make sure you attribute.

Obviously, it would be lovely if you’d like to pay me to use my work (for example in print), but this is not strictly required. I do reserve the right to switch to a “non-commercial” usage license in future, but of course that is not to a

A Question Regarding Rights, or Lack Thereof

The question machine has made an exact copy of an arrangement of bits, which were then translated by my computer and came out like this:


I have a question regarding Digital Rights Management. I think this is a funny phrase to begin with, because clearly, I have no rights here.

I just got a copy of Empire Total War for the PC. A friend of mine bought the game for his machine but found out his system wasn’t up to the task. Being the owner of a beast-machine, I paid him $50 and took the game (DVDs and all) off him.

When I go to install the game on my PC, Steam tells me the game is already linked to my friend’s Steam account. Oh snap, better get him to relinquish his control of the licence. Hmm, no obvious way to do that, better hit up Steam support.

Hours later, I find out that it’s impossible to do. You can walk into a store and purchase a game, sell it to a friend (so you can no longer use it) and it’s worthless. You’re not buying a game, you’re leasing it from Valve and playing by their rules.

My question is, what can I do? Do I have a leg to stand on when it comes to fighting Valve? Do I have to return the game to my friend and ask for my money back?


Ah digital rights, and their management: a pet topic of mine. Pull up a seat, and lend me your ear for a short while. Continue reading “A Question Regarding Rights, or Lack Thereof”

Google slaps down S92a

Google has a lot at stake in the copyright wars. They hold monstrous caches containing most of the data on the web, no doubt some of it covered by copyright. They also probably hold the risky position of a “service provider” under the new law, requiring them to respond to accusations of infringement.

Google recently filed a submission to the Telecommunications Carriers Forum with their position on the proposed law change. They take the same position that I have:


Section 92A undermines the incredible social and economic benefits of the open and universally accessible internet, by providing for a remedy of account termination or disconnection that is disproportionate to the harm of copyright infringement online.


I’m pleased that a huge company like Google has joined the conversation, and only hope it helps towards the eventual repeal of this horrendous law.