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Mega Load of Something
April 22, 2012 6:36 PM   Subscribe

Three months after file sharing site Megaupload was shut down (previously), and charged with criminal copyright violations by the DOJ, the judge has expressed doubt that the case will go to trial because the company has not been served with criminal papers. US-based lawyer for Megaupload Ira Rothken: "We don't believe Megaupload can be served in a criminal matter because it is not located within the jurisdiction of the United States."

The comments follow several controversies in the case, including accusations that the DOJ is attempting to prevent a fair trial.

Kim Dotcom shares his thoughts on the US justice system.
posted by bigZLiLk (43 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah, just as I suspected -- this wasn't about crimes so much as fear, uncertainty, and doubt. The FUDeral Government, as it were.
posted by Celsius1414 at 6:38 PM on April 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Why do it legally when you can do it cost-effectively?
posted by delfin at 6:40 PM on April 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


LOL. That doesn't mean individual people can't be tried, but I don't exactly understand why people who don't live in the U.S and don't operate in the U.S could be guilty of violating U.S "Money Laundering" laws.
posted by delmoi at 6:43 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jurisprudence Fetishist Gets Off on Technicality
posted by The White Hat at 6:45 PM on April 22, 2012 [22 favorites]


God I wish that the microscopic "entertainment" industry didn't have such a stranglehold on the people with guns and lawyers.
posted by rebent at 6:47 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


A forum that I visit on occasion had a thread where a member was archiving the many projects that the community had worked on over the years hosted by, you guessed it, Megaupload. While it's obvious in retrospect that doing archival work on a file locker is sort of dumb, I also felt bad that a whole history was wiped off of the net in a single day.

I'm curious if not serving them was intentional or just incompetence.
posted by codacorolla at 6:59 PM on April 22, 2012


Did they release the announcement shortly after their hosting company wiped their unpaid-for servers?
posted by acb at 7:09 PM on April 22, 2012


The company didn't wipe the data, they held onto it for a while then turned it over to the EFF to distribute to users, so that people could at least get the data they'd put up themselves.
posted by delmoi at 7:13 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


They accomplished what they wanted. A bunch of file sharing sites shut down, a bunch turned off public sharing, a bunch blocked the US and a bunch more started deleting infringing files more thoroughly.

4shared, Mediafire and Zippyshare are the main ones still up and running, and they both recently started deleting all copies of a file instead of just one.

That said, I still rarely have problems finding anything via filestube, or beemp3 or hulkshare. It just takes more patience going through dead links.
posted by empath at 7:13 PM on April 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Media interests gave birth to Megaupload when their business model shifted from technology innovation to legal 'innovation'. It's their own fault, and Kim Dot Com is right, he has been persecuted by someone using the legal system as a blunt instrument.
posted by nickrussell at 7:17 PM on April 22, 2012


Probably didn't have anything to do with MegaUpload's impending multi-billion dollar IPO either...
posted by Aquaman at 7:38 PM on April 22, 2012


The government is being so ridiculous in this case that they're trying to freeze Mr. Dotcom's assets even to pay lawyers with. Since good lawyers (especially copyright lawyers) don't work for free, in essence they're trying to make sure he doesn't have competent representation at trial.
posted by Malor at 7:43 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


RE the IPO, I seriously doubt Megaupload would actually raise that much money. Real investors would look at that company and barf a little inside.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 7:45 PM on April 22, 2012


Jessamyn mentioned on Twitter her book was up on a site like this fairly recently. It was a pretty scummy site and harder to actually get to the download than most of them. Still, the file is down now so these sites are taking seriously the take-down notices even if they aren't coming on big ticket RIAA/MPAA files.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:55 PM on April 22, 2012


He may have been talking out the corner of his mouth but I was amused when he was talking about the troubles his users were having recovering their "legit" files. He said that the list of users effected included congressmen and various other well known people.
posted by 2manyusernames at 8:01 PM on April 22, 2012


It was a pretty scummy site

In some sense other than facilitating copyright infringement?

It's an excellent source for e-books. I check it daily.
posted by Trurl at 8:24 PM on April 22, 2012


In the sense of hiding the download link behind a lot of fake links to spammy toolbar shit. It was a game of hide and seek to get to the actual file, and I say that as someone who is used to pirate sites.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:28 PM on April 22, 2012


I'm sorry, but if we can't engage in arbitrary search, seizure, and imprisonment the world over on the whim of the American entertainment industry, the TERRORISTS HAVE ALREADY WON.
posted by edheil at 8:31 PM on April 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


In the sense of hiding the download link behind a lot of fake links to spammy toolbar shit

I think you're confusing the actions of the site that linked to the file host with the actions of the file host itself.

The latter - like many file hosting sites - does require you to pay attention to what you're clicking on. I accept it as part of their business model.

I don't think the former was the least mysterious about what to click - or where it would be sending you.
posted by Trurl at 8:37 PM on April 22, 2012


the judge has expressed doubt that the case will go to trial because the company has not been served with criminal papers.

This is a statement from an American judge regarding a possible trial in the US.

From the linked article:
"Lawyers acting for the US have said they will argue Dotcom should be extradited because he was a member of an organised criminal group, which carries a sentence of five years.

The US Government needs to get over the hurdle of a five-year jail sentence to meet the criteria for extradition. Copyright charges in NZ carry a maximum of four years."

In other words: Megaupload and Kim Dotcom might be charged and tried in New Zealand.
posted by iviken at 9:29 PM on April 22, 2012


No, I'm talking about the links present on the host that are disguised as links to content but are actually links to spammy toolbar shit. I'm avoiding actually linking them because they are scumbags but you see the same kind of stuff on every pirate site, they just took it to an expert level of obfuscation which is why Jessamyn found it amusing enough to tweet about in the first place. "If you can figure out how to get it, you may not need it."

posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:31 PM on April 22, 2012


Due process something something I forget ...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:06 PM on April 22, 2012


If the government doesn't have any respect for the rule of law, why should the people? It seems like "get these results" is the MO, the actual legality is not even an issue for concern. Complete legal bullshit, in the formal sense of the word.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:12 PM on April 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Was there still some doubt about the current status of the rule of law when the last administration got away Scot free after murdering and torturing people in violation of long established international treaties and the explicit adoption of those treaties in US law. Compared to that, the massive ongoing financial system fraud that followed was just icing on the cake.

That said, it's really ironic to bring up misuse of the law in a way that disrespects the spirit of the rule of law in association with an operator like Kim Dot com, who's practically made a business model out of cynically doing the same. Don't get me wrong--in this case I think the DOJ went too far, as I think I said last time this came up on the blue. But I also really think its laughable to view Dotcom as anything vaguely approaching an heroic or even sympathetic figure. And I also think piracy enthusiasts are often the useful idiots of chice for a certain very cynical species of corporate parasite that despises creators and exploits the reality of piracy to tilt the mass market playing field even further to the advantage of the big money corporate side of the power relationship.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:41 PM on April 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wouldn't it be awesome if this case just fell apart and then took the NZ politicians who collaborated with the US down as well.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 12:02 AM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


The word "scot" in the phrase "scot free" shouldn't be capitalised. It means a tax, levy, or charge; it is probably related to the legal term escheat, to be legally deprived of property; and from there to the word "cheat", to be unfairly deprived of property.

In other words, property is theft, the government is a conspiracy, &c &c.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:28 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you haven't followed the story, the FBI has shown themselves quite scummy by :
- Attempts to prevent MegaUpload from hiring high end lawyers.
- Attempts to delete all data held by MegaUpload, including original work.
- Threats against MegaUpload's hosting provider for not deleting said files.
- Seizing footage not on their seizure warrant.

It's clear he FBI wants all the MegaUpload data they aren't using deleted because it'll contain an awful lot of partially exculpatory evidence, probably shows that MegaUpload has "significant non-infringing uses", especially given that HotFile's most downloaded files were open source software. I'd imagine this evidence could only be partially exculpatory if they actually have any evidence that MegaUpload specifically encouraged piracy.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:18 AM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


psycho-alchemy: Wouldn't it be awesome if this case just fell apart and then took the NZ politicians who collaborated with the US down as well.
Yes. Especially as they were all so keen to be down with Mr. Dot Com initially. And then turned on him as soon as a bigger, more powerful bunch of popular kids came along whose every bidding they could do. Sickening, really. The current NZ government is basically a pathetic bunch of small-time gambling, horse-racing, and alcohol industry shills who are way out of their depth on anything not relating to installing pokie machines.
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:54 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The word "scot" in the phrase "scot free" shouldn't be capitalised.

Yeah, sorry--that's another in a long series of recent auto-correct fails I've inflicted on the blue. I've been posting via mobile recently, which really is a tacky thing to do and I'm ashamed of myself, but hey, it's the teens!

If you haven't followed the story, the FBI has shown themselves quite scummy by :

To be fair, the FBI does demonstrate a willingness to act scummy a tad too often (Hoover really left his mark on the institution, it seems). That probably does more harm to the cause of the rule of law and to the public faith in the possibility of good governance than anything a trumped-up shyster like Dotcom or legions of internet pirates could ever do.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:25 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, is this the thread where we get angry without research again? Before you go off on how the sainted Kim Dotcom is being oppressed by the evil gubmint, it might help to inform yourself about what exactly they're accused of. The good stuff starts on page 28, but short version - they knowingly and eagerly collected a lot of money directly from massive copyright infringement, and used that money to knowingly and purposefully finance additional copyright infringement.

It's clear he FBI wants all the MegaUpload data they aren't using deleted because it'll contain an awful lot of partially exculpatory evidence, probably shows that MegaUpload has "significant non-infringing uses", especially given that HotFile's most downloaded files were open source software. I'd imagine this evidence could only be partially exculpatory if they actually have any evidence that MegaUpload specifically encouraged piracy.

"But I put my legal open-source software on MegaUpload" isn't exculpatory in the slightest, because they're being prosecuted for a laundry list of specific enumerated crimes.
posted by kafziel at 7:28 AM on April 23, 2012


kafziel: Oh, is this the thread where we get angry without research again?

Your "research" seems to consist only of reading the prosecution's side of the story. Do you think that's fair?
posted by gilrain at 8:12 AM on April 23, 2012


For the love of god please let MegaUpload come back. I am so fucking sick of the stupid knockoff sites people are using like RapidGator and such.
"I'm sorry your interpretation of our garbled captcha is incorrect, please try again in 5 hours 43 minutes. Or Pay $60 for our membership to get it right now!"

I can't believe I'm longing for the days of Megaupload and Rapidshare.... (but Mediafire was always the best...)
posted by Theta States at 8:15 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Before you go off on how the sainted Kim Dotcom is being oppressed by the evil gubmint, it might help to inform yourself about what exactly they're accused of. The good stuff starts on page 28, but short version - they knowingly and eagerly collected a lot of money directly from massive copyright infringement, and used that money to knowingly and purposefully finance additional copyright infringement.

The money wouldn't even be available for them to take if our copyright laws weren't so fucking stupid.
posted by empath at 8:57 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yesss. I can't wait for the National government here to end up looking like the US donkeys they've been on this. Have that, Shonkey John Key.
posted by New England Cultist at 11:26 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


About a decade or so ago there was a big kerfuffle here in cloggieland when an Amsterdam cabbie was extradited for selling drugs to DEA agents. Fair enuff you might say, but this was in Amsterdam. Ever since I've assumed jurisdiction doesn't matter if America wants you bad enough.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:40 AM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


The money wouldn't even be available for them to take if our copyright laws weren't so fucking stupid.

I dislike both the crazy lengths of US copyrights and overreach by federal prosecutors (I highly recommend Harvey Silverglate's book Three Felonies a Day on the latter topic), but let's be fair here: is there any evidence that a substantial portion of the pirated material was not relatively recent in origin? My admittedly anecdotal sense is that it was largely modern television shows, movies, music, software, and pornography, all or most of which would generally be copyrighted under what most people believe is a reasonable scheme.
posted by dsfan at 3:25 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I dislike both the crazy lengths of US copyrights and overreach by federal prosecutors (I highly recommend Harvey Silverglate's book Three Felonies a Day on the latter topic), but let's be fair here: is there any evidence that a substantial portion of the pirated material was not relatively recent in origin?

If people were allowed to freely share material between themselves, then there would be no money available for intermediating the transaction. You'd just ban unauthorized commercial distribution of material, and there'd be a bunch of free or peer-to-peer file servers all over the place, and then you'd have itunes or what-have-you for people who want to support the artists by paying for music. There'd be no place for pirates to earn money.
posted by empath at 4:02 PM on April 23, 2012


You'd just ban unauthorized commercial distribution of material, and there'd be a bunch of free or peer-to-peer file servers all over the place, and then you'd have itunes or what-have-you for people who want to support the artists by paying for music.

Wait, so you think an optimal copyright law would allow me to distribute work the day after it's published to anyone and everyone as long as I don't receive any money? I don't see how that makes sense, you still have more or less the same probable loss of revenue to content creators (and therefore disincentive to create new content). At least if you can charge people for better service (e.g. faster downloads) the consumer gets that benefit. Maybe the optimal copyright length really is zero, it's not an unheard-of result in the academic literature (Levine and Boldrin, for example, are really smart guys), but it's definitely a minority viewpoint.
posted by dsfan at 4:50 PM on April 23, 2012


The optimal copyright law would only regulate the exchange of money.
posted by empath at 5:24 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The optimal copyright law would only regulate the exchange of money.

What is being regulated here is the exchange on money. Specifically, the transfer of money to account holders who upload pirated materials and get a lot of downloads of that pirated material, and the transfer of money to MegaUpload for the privilege of having such an account.
posted by kafziel at 5:52 PM on April 23, 2012


Oh, and the transfer of money from ad providers to MegaUpload for views on pages that exist to host and distribute pirated content. See, for instance, the efforts to download and rehost all of YouTube with their own ads.
posted by kafziel at 5:53 PM on April 23, 2012


Yes, but there would be no market for that sort of thing if peer to peer file sharing were legal. It would be trivial to set up a non commercial napster. It's been done before. And if a easily accessible and safe non commercial file exchange network existed, there would be no reason to use a pirate site, unless they were somehow representing that they were funding the artists, which would be a relatively simple thing to enforce.

Even better, if iTunes just implemented a pay-what-you-like scheme, piracy would disappear tomorrow.
posted by empath at 6:27 PM on April 23, 2012


Wait, so you think an optimal copyright law would allow me to distribute work the day after it's published to anyone and everyone as long as I don't receive any money?

This is almost how Dutch copyright law works: you are allowed to make copies of copyrighted works for home use (with the exception of software), even if you get your copy from an illegal source, but you're not allowed to distribute these copies.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:35 AM on April 24, 2012


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