Join 3,558 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Is Kim Dotcom Ayn Rand's love child?
August 11, 2012 1:52 AM   Subscribe

Kim Dotcom: suddenly a portly, shady, German entrepreneur becomes a New Zealand folk hero. Or does he? As it becomes clear that there was something dodgy(pdf) about those search warrants, and the charm offensive bears fruit, questions arise.

Explanatory notes for main link: Simon Power. Campbell Live interview. TPPA.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen (51 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
portly, shady, German

Interesting use of the serial comma there.

Ahem. Anyway, he may be portly, shady and German, and a horrible person in every other way, but I'm still going to cheer him on as he tries to thwart the US government's attempts to give itself global jurisdiction over copyright infringement. Although the end result will probably just be a clause in ACTA Mk 2 that says "the US government has global jurisdiction over copyright infringement".
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:37 AM on August 11, 2012 [16 favorites]


It's not primarily about Kim Dotcom, it's about the rule of law.

It doesn't matter if the subject of a law-enforcement based action is a saint or the devil, they still get due process rather than a needlessly violent search based on an illegal warrant and confiscation of the assets of their business without a single proven allegation (btw, the USG also argues that the case need never commence for them to keep the business assets and customer data frozen forever even though they admit any inditement may never be actioned).

Again:
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
Addressing this particular case, if there was a devil worth sacrificing that principle for it probably wouldn't be someone just accused of running a public file-locker.
posted by jaduncan at 3:07 AM on August 11, 2012 [22 favorites]


I realise now I should have included another interesting aspect: Kim Dotcom made a rather hefty donation to the mayoral campaign of John Banks who then went on to become a member of parliament whose vote is crucial to the survival of New Zealand's coalition government. That donation seems to have been recorded in ethically if not legally dubious ways, but this didn't come out until John Banks left Dotcom in the lurch after the latter's arrest. Banks has not been charged with election law fraud, but his reputation is toast. 1, 2.

Let's just say that Dotcom is doing a lot more as a rich high-profile foreigner to liven up the place than, say, James Cameron.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:16 AM on August 11, 2012


illegal warrant

I mean unlawful rather than illegal here, in fairness. It's not like the police have been convicted of obtaining by criminal deception or anything.
posted by jaduncan at 3:20 AM on August 11, 2012


Even as someone who owes a significant percentage of his music collection to Megaupload, I don't consider him any more admirable a figure than any other business owner whom I've patronized.

But between a copyright infringement facilitator and a militarized police force, I know which is the true danger to society.
posted by Egg Shen at 3:22 AM on August 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Both of them?
posted by spitbull at 3:29 AM on August 11, 2012


metafilter: copyright infringement, a "true danger to society".
posted by ts;dr at 3:31 AM on August 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Neither the USA or Dotcom can claim any moral high ground here. It's always fun when you can root for the good guy but this isn't that kind of case.
posted by foobaz at 3:34 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Copyright infringement can be one person's music collection, or it can be a massive infrastructure that permits wholesale stripping of legitimate intellectual property rights.

And sorry for your lack of historical perspective, but in fact it is a danger to society, even a true one.

But oh yeah, metafilter, I forgot. A bunch of people who make their livings from creative work and intellectual property rights who think other people's creative work isn't worth a shit.
posted by spitbull at 3:40 AM on August 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Neither the USA or Dotcom can claim any moral high ground here

Yes, like I said, "both of them." Anyone who thinks Kim Dotcom is a folk hero probably deserves a session with the storm troopers.
posted by spitbull at 3:41 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


And sorry for your lack of historical perspective, but in fact it is a danger to society, even a true one.

OK, I'm going to call you on this one. Please can you present your historical evidence that copyright has represented a true danger that later seriously damaged the development of a society, state or culture?
posted by jaduncan at 3:43 AM on August 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


*copyright infringement
posted by jaduncan at 3:44 AM on August 11, 2012


Anyone who thinks Kim Dotcom is a folk hero probably deserves a session with the storm troopers.

...not even going there on that one.
posted by jaduncan at 3:50 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know who is going to get a session with the storm troopers? A lot of loudmouth armchair fascists who are completely fucking sure their turn will never come because they cheer for their own executioner.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 3:59 AM on August 11, 2012 [27 favorites]


A limited copyright term is a social contract that is a benefit to both creators and consumers of art and information.

A functionally unlimited copyright term is a corrupt legal situation arising from the influence of money in politics. It is damaging to our culture and deserves to be ignored until a reasonable copyright term is restored.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:07 AM on August 11, 2012 [27 favorites]


[Dear everyone, please try not to go off the rails with hyperbolic, dramatic, inflammatory language? Thanks.]
posted by taz at 4:22 AM on August 11, 2012


Come on, step up to the mark, spitbull - where has lack of copyright caused a danger to society? I don't mean "potentially caused some people to make less money than they might have". I mean "danger to society", like you said. I think that's a fair question, taz.

A bunch of people who make their livings from creative work and intellectual property rights who think other people's creative work isn't worth a shit.

Copyright laws are a relatively modern invention, and people were quite capable of being creative (and making a living from it), before it was invented. Just as the music industry is a modern invention, and people were quite capable of making and enjoying music before it existed, and will continue to do so after it's buried.
posted by Jimbob at 4:47 AM on August 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Apparently, the reason for the NZ Police's reason for raiding the Dotcom mansion with an armed force is because of this photo. Our policemen are not really able to tell the difference between a manual shotgun and a rapid fire automatic.

The current court case seems more about whether the raid was OTT rather than whether it was legal.
posted by arzakh at 4:48 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apparently, the reason for the NZ Police's reason for raiding the Dotcom mansion with an armed force is because of this photo.

Look at it. Even his car says he's guilty. I think that's called "waiving your right to remain silent".

Anyone who thinks Kim Dotcom is a folk hero probably deserves a session with the storm troopers.

What kind of "session" are we talking about here? Can they be portly, shady, German storm troopers?
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:57 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone who thinks Kim Dotcom is a folk hero probably deserves a session with the storm troopers.

Wow.
posted by empath at 5:03 AM on August 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Apparently, the reason for the NZ Police's reason for raiding the Dotcom mansion with an armed force is because of this photo.

Set against that, they decided not to wear full body armour because "We wanted to match the threat level, in this case a low threat[.] We made a conscious decision not to wear full tactical kit. It wasn't appropriate under these circumstances."

Absolute speculation: it was meant to be a splashy success on TV, and the paperwork was rushed to allow for that splashy raid. A big Hollywood production, if you will.

Non-speculation: even the NZ police internal review called it "heavy-handed" and "over the top".

Add to that the fact that it appears to have been an entirely unlawful raid, and the police directly state that "Yes there was deliberate force applied" in response to Dotcom's allegations of being punched in the face and stamped on...and then add this:

"All of that is so invalid and really angers me because you know the FBI was already in the data centre disabling access to the data they feared we would manipulate. So primary to you arriving there was no chance for anyone to do anything with that evidence" --Dotcom

Right there the police actions look not just malitious, but not particualarly competently so. It isn't even good for the police or RIAA/MPAA.
posted by jaduncan at 5:14 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


We have the folk heroes that the absurd state of the copyright system deserves. Example: The Confederacy of dunces: Romance edition (could be worthy of a FPP but a little bit on the OutrageFilter side)
posted by elgilito at 5:16 AM on August 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm still genuinely curious about my question, spitbull. I'd be really interested in a good quality argument that copyright infringement had fundamentally damaged a society, largely because it would be an argument I haven't heard hitherto.
posted by jaduncan at 5:20 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Copyright laws damaged Britain in the 19th century.
posted by empath at 5:37 AM on August 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh and the spin just gets even better.

Grant Wormald, the detective inspector who oversaw the operation for the Organized and Financial Crime Agency (Ofcanz) said he was told by the FBI that Dotcom "carried a device with him to delete servers around the world". Apparently, the 'Doomsday' delete-all-servers device could have been triggered "in seconds" from any computer or phone on the property.
posted by arzakh at 6:35 AM on August 11, 2012


device with him to delete servers around the world

What, a phone he could use to log in to his hosting accounts? Wow! I've got that too! I must be a super-villain! Let me go find Captain Hammer and kick his ass.
posted by tyllwin at 6:40 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Apparently, the 'Doomsday' delete-all-servers device could have been triggered "in seconds" from any computer or phone on the property.

Unlucky that they didn't find him in the unlocked emergency room that they'd been handed plans for complete with a floor diagram for 13 minutes then.
posted by jaduncan at 6:40 AM on August 11, 2012


in fact it is a danger to society, even a true one.

When asked to put up or shut up, it's no surprise the fascist picks the latter.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:18 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah sheesh, I can't even keep track of who is for or against "copyright" in this thread.

Let's say it in plain talk. Copyright is a good thing. Somebody creates something, they have the exclusive right to publish it, within a limited time frame. That's really good for creative artists and software programmers and the infrastructures such as the publishing business. Without copyright, far fewer people would create things, and fewer still would see their projects through development to maturity.

So, when somebody without copyright begins to publish or profit from work to which they have no right, we stop them from doing that. Fair enough. And you might even have some stiff penalties to make people think twice before assuming the risk.

The problem is that when we protect copyright by storming buildings with helicopter borne assault troops, and assess penalties that are ridiculously astronomically disproportionate to the value of the work, it's a serious discredit to the law and an embarrassment to us as a society. Not to mention the cost of enforcement - really, how much did that little venture in New Zealand cost the US taxpayers, when they could have just mailed a goddamn letter for less than fifty cents? For you rabid, pathetic pedants, I am not suggesting a letter would have been effective - as Kim himself pointed out, the US government had already seized and shutdown his servers before the raid. The raid literally served no purpose but to scare and intimidate, and perhaps for the prurient gratification of people who have arguably deep seated psychological issues.

But I mislead you. The raid actually did serve a greater purpose, and a rational one. It was put on to legitimize the use of wildly disproportionate force. It was done to justify the militarization of law enforcement. I can say without hyperbole that we are looking at the future of law enforcement here. The future as law enforcement would have it. It was done to inure us, to make it commonplace. To make it not newsworthy. Get used to it.

And that is the issue at hand.
posted by Xoebe at 8:22 AM on August 11, 2012 [18 favorites]


Big Worm: Playing with my money is like playing with my emotions, Smokey.

When you jack megabucks from the powers that be, don't act surprised when they track you down and forcefully stomp your balls. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. Doesn't make it right, but that's how it's always been and always will be.
posted by foot at 9:25 AM on August 11, 2012


Playing with my money is like playing with my emotions, Smokey.
Next time you see the U.S. Government, you tell him I'ma beat his ass.

Online file-sharing without the inference of a governing power? Yes Please.
posted by Redfield at 9:47 AM on August 11, 2012


Pro-Copyright Judges Never Drop Cases Over Conflicts, So Why Does Megaupload Judge Have To Step Down?
posted by homunculus at 10:18 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


New Zealand Police Try to Justify Paramilitary Raid on Kim Dotcom
posted by homunculus at 10:19 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, I used to go to Kimble's site ALL THE TIME to look at the high-res (for the time) pictures of his "go-to-hell," super-rich, 1% lifestyle. I found it fascinating to get a close-up view that wasn't filtered through the PR lens or far-off and voyeuristic like paparazzi shots. These were just rich people doing whatever they wanted. Example 1. Example 2 (NSFW). This was ca. 1999-2001. I had no idea he was the found of Megaupload and that he would pop up so extravagantly again. This guy is an amazing schemer and self-promoter. It seems likely we'll be hearing about him periodically for decades to come.
posted by Mapes at 10:29 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Stately, plump German Buck Mulligan Kim Dotcom etc. etc.
posted by obscurator at 11:48 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, my main motivation for this post was the reporting style of the first piece linked.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:27 PM on August 11, 2012


Google announced today that they're updating their search algorithms to account for sites that get a lot of copyright removal notices, moving them further down the list of results.
posted by Egg Shen at 2:01 PM on August 11, 2012


This guy is an amazing schemer and self-promoter.

Really?
posted by scalefree at 3:22 PM on August 11, 2012


True Danger To Society : playing at the outdoor theater next Friday night. Bring lawn chairs, body paint, lemonade.
posted by mule98J at 5:55 PM on August 11, 2012


its only shady because he's portly.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 6:59 PM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Copyright infringement can be one person's music collection, or it can be a massive infrastructure that permits wholesale stripping of legitimate intellectual property rights.

And sorry for your lack of historical perspective, but in fact it is a danger to society, even a true one.
Lol.
But oh yeah, metafilter, I forgot. A bunch of people who make their livings from creative work and intellectual property rights who think other people's creative work isn't worth a shit.
A) Who better than people who make their living off of creative work to decide or B) What makes you think that's even true?

Anyway, as far as the "oh this this is metafilter" thing, this is the only place I've even ever seen people take up the pro-RIA/MPAA side of the issue. It's a very, very niche view on the internet in general, which is why you saw such a major backlash against things like SOPA
Anyone who thinks Kim Dotcom is a folk hero probably deserves a session with the storm troopers.
Sometimes people make fun of free-culture proponents for being paranoid and throwing around terms like 'fascist', but sometimes the other side actually does manage to live up to their expectations, at least rhetorically.
posted by delmoi at 7:36 PM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


@Xoebe: The cost of the mansion raid to the NZ taxpayers was estimated at around $1M - a nice round figure. The cost of standard surface mail postage is 60c. I agree this i sabout the knee-jerk reaction rather than the legitimacy of copying material that is easily copied.

@Homunculus: Judge David Harvey stepped down because in a separate incident he gave a talk quoting from Pogo Possum "We have met the enemy, and he is us" and was considered to be directed at the US (self-ref: Harvey is a gigantic nerd - I played D&D with him a long long time ago).
posted by arzakh at 8:27 PM on August 11, 2012


arzakh, I realize that. The piece I linked is saying that there's a double standard when Harvey's statement forces him to step down but the conflicts of judges with ties to pro-copyright organizations are ignored.

But what I want to know is, when you played D&D with him, what class/alignment did the Judge like to play?
posted by homunculus at 9:53 PM on August 11, 2012


@Homunculus: what class/alignment did the Judge like to play?
I am not at liberty to divulge that information. (Mainly because my memory cells are full of bees)
posted by arzakh at 10:47 PM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


i love the fact that he straight up changed his last name to Dotcom

"so mr. dotcom you've made a name for yourself on the intern-"

"i am the internet"
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:00 AM on August 12, 2012


Google announced today that they're updating their search algorithms to account for sites that get a lot of copyright removal notices, moving them further down the list of results.

Except of course for Youtube, which they own.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:04 PM on August 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Except of course for Youtube, which they own.
posted by ceribus peribus at 3:04 PM on August 12 [+] [!]


The irony tastes like cake.
posted by dazed_one at 12:31 PM on August 12, 2012


was told by the FBI that Dotcom "carried a device with him to delete servers around the world". Apparently, the 'Doomsday' delete-all-servers device could have been triggered "in seconds" from any computer or phone on the property.

They made the same claim about Kevin Mittnick, except his doomsday device would set off all the world's nuclear missiles and could be triggered just by him whistling into a telephone. At least they've toned it down to something a little more plausible.
posted by CyberSlug Labs at 11:24 AM on August 13, 2012


New Zealand Judge Orders U.S. to Disclose Megaupload Evidence
posted by homunculus at 9:28 AM on August 16, 2012


Gimme the Loot: From Blackbeard to Kim Dotcom has piracy been a radical force?
posted by homunculus at 4:29 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why You Should Be Terrified Of A Free Trade Agreement You've Never Heard Of [Infographic]
posted by homunculus at 10:21 AM on September 1, 2012


« Older How the individualist, rights-based message in Bea...  |  Jake Warga photographs convent... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments