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Mega-victory: Kim Dotcom search warrants “invalid,” mansion raid “illegal” (arstechnica.com)
416 points by evo_9 on June 28, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 127 comments

I hope Dotcom comes out of this victorious and relaunches MegaUpload. It was the best free one-click hosting site out there - everything available at the moment sucks. Not to mention it would be a wonderful "fuck you" to the US government, abusing its global hegemony for personal purposes.

You really liked MegaUpload better than Dropbox?

I remembered it as being covered in adverts with long waiting times, capped speeds, no parallel downloads from the same IP address, etc.

File syncing, not hosting, is Dropbox's primary use. Many people have used Dropbox in a manner similar to one-click hosting services, but that is in violation of the spirit (and maybe terms) of the service. Those who use excessive amounts of bandwidth on Dropbox by using it in that manner have been banned. I'd rather not abuse Dropbox when a perfectly good alternative was available.

> covered in adverts

If advertisements concern you, use AdBlock. Or use JDownloader, like I do, and avoid viewing the site entirely.

> long waiting times

If you created a free account, you would only have to wait for 25 seconds, better than the vast majority of other similar sites (MediaFire being one of the few sites that doesn't have a wait time). JDownloader alleviates this issue as well - it supports "logging in" to reduce wait times, and once you've passed it the link, it'll auto-start the download after the wait time.

> capped speeds

Nothing could be further from the truth. MU was one of the only sites that didn't cap speeds. Downloads from MU always maxed out my (24 mbit fiber) connection. Slow download speed is one of the biggest problems with the hosting sites that have remained online.

> no parallel downloads from the same IP address

Considering that it maxed out your connection, this didn't seem to be an issue. JDownloader again - it'll automate serial downloads of a large number of files.

Honest question, do you not think adblockers and tools like JDownloader are "in violation of the spirit" of a site like MegaUpload? A site that is clearly based on monetizing through advertising on web traffic?

Just seems very contradictory.

Adblockers: depends (the answer isn't clear). But that is a much more general debate (applies to all sites), and one that doesn't belong here.

JDownloader: no. IIRC, it's actually officially sanctioned by the hosting sites. For example, the first time you download from any site, you're required to check a box in JDownloader saying you agree to that site's TOS, which means that JDownloader obviously isn't in violation of the TOS. And JDownloader very prominently displays links to premium account signups, so I'm pretty sure the sites like it. Like icebraining said, their primary revenue stream was premium account fees. Otherwise, they would be constantly changing the layout to break JDownloader support.

I am having my doubts on if JDownloader is actually sanctioned by the hosting sites. At least whenever I have to use it, it takes quite some time to update its ability to work with certain one click hosts. I also always suspected that the TOS agreement is some way for the JDownloader developers to transfer the responsibility of breaking the TOSes towards the user.

Don't get me wrong, I am a regular user of these kinds of software products, but just by their incredible amount of supported download hosts it seems that they are at best "tolerated". But I guess the tolerance level is also quite large in this "sector" as long as it doesn't target their premium account business.

> it takes quite some time to update its ability to work with certain one click hosts

This might have more to do with the quality of the software (a desktop Java app? in 2012?) than anything else. I would love for someone to come along and make a JDownloader clone using GTK or Qt.

That said, you're right in that JDownloader's in a gray area. They can't have possibly gained approval from all those sites.

I am affiliated with one of the sites JDownloader supports, and they certainly did not ask us for approval. Whatever you try to stop them is futile, since they can react quickly.

JDownloader breaks our business model since we don't have premium accounts, but in the end you have no other choice but to accept that some people are leechers.

So, please don't think you're doing good when using tools like that and advocating their use.

>the first time you download from any site, you're required to check a box in JDownloader saying you agree to that site's TOS, which means that JDownloader obviously isn't in violation of the TOS.

That doesn't follow, at all. TPB could make me check a box saying, "I agree not to commit copyright infringement" every time I want download something, but that doesn't change the nature of what I'm doing.

Ah, so ethics only matter when it's convenient.

I don't remember MU having third-party advertising, but if it did, it was minimal. They make their real money from paid accounts, which give more features.

Besides, even if MU had them, ads nowadays are paid-per-click; services only make money if you actually clicked on those ads. There's no real difference between using JDownloader vs going to the web page but not clicking on any ads.

What about MU did you like better than MediaFire? I used to use MediaFire a lot and found it overall much nicer than MU...

For non-paying users, MF's file size limit is 200 MB, whereas MU's was 1 GB. If you knew how to concatenate files, this wasn't an issue, but the vast majority of people would have difficulty even grasping the concept.

RAR (both with the official client and 7z) makes concatenating effortless; you just dump all the files in a directory and extract the main one.

I wouldn't say effortless. If you're sharing with fellow tech-savvy people, it's fine. But otherwise, the 45 second wait for MU is much less than how long it would take to explain the concept of split RAR's/7z's if the person wasn't familiar with them.

God forbid we step outside of the "spirit" of dropbox's intended use in order to achieve something highly useful. Yeesh.

You can't use Dropbox to serve content to more than a handful of people.

I'm very proud of the ingenuity of New Zealands high court. So far the government, police and court systems have all bent over backwards to the Americans.

It's nice to know at least one public service still serves the people.

I think you mean integrity, not ingenuity.

and by Americans, you mean people of the United States of America.

I wish police and court systems all around the world bent over backwards to the chileans, mexicans, peruvians, bolivians, etc.

If it does relaunch, the constant publicity Kim and MU have been receiving will only help their numbers.

Kim Dotcom might not be going to America but his money has already flown the coop. He is broke now, the United States will keep his money he will never see any of it back. He won't be able to pay for hosting, and because his servers are here in the United States the government won't let him have them back/turn them on.

"Kim Dotcom might not be going to America but his money has already flown the coop. He is broke now, the United States will keep his money he will never see any of it back."

If the seizure of his assets is deemed illegal by the court, must they not be returned? Potentially, along with compensation for the damages caused to infrastructure and reputation of Megaupload, not to mention the unnecessary force used with the raid of his house. After all this time and attention in media, such a sum would be enormous.

Under New Zealand law, courts must consider whether evidence was collected illegally when deciding if it admissible in court, but that doesn't automatically prevent evidence from being admissible. If the breach was minor, technical, and unintentional, and doesn't significantly affect the rights of the defendant beyond if the law had been followed, then the evidence is usually considered admissible. If the courts decide that the police deliberately broke the law, they are far more likely to rule evidence inadmissible.

So this does not necessarily mean that he has won the extradition hearing.

The actual ruling (here http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/cases/dotcom-ors-v-attorney-ge...) was based on the argument by Kim Dotcom's lawyers that the search warrants were too vague and broad (they didn't say they were for alleged breaches of US law, they allowed too much stuff to be seized beyond the alleged offending, they didn't say how seized property that turned out to be irrelevant or was no longer needed for the investigation should be dealt with, and they didn't say how property belonging to employees living at Kim Dotcom's house would be handled) and the fact that the NZ Police had allowed evidence to be transferred overseas without permission from the Attorney General as required by law.

The court ruled that because the search warrants were too broad, they were invalid, and therefore the seizure was illegal.

Under New Zealand law, people generally get property that was seized for investigation back, unless there is a law specifically allowing it to be kept.

They didn't rule that all seized property must be returned yet, but the ruling grants "an order requiring that all items identified as containing no relevant material be returned forthwith to the plaintiffs" and "an order that complete clones of those seized items which are found to contain any relevant and non-privileged material be provided to the plaintiffs as soon as possible, and in any case, not later than the disclosable clone of that item is provided to the United States authorities".

Disclaimer: IANAL, this is not legal advice, it is a political discussion about seizure laws in relation to a high profile case.

The legal system is tricky. The US seized his money from all over the world not just NZ. Anything from NZ would likely be returned but everything else, the US will ask Kim Dotcom to come to the US to litigate it (if you want your money 'sue us'). He won't be able to do that, since he would then be open to be served properly and sent to jail again (unfairly I might add).

He doesn't have to come to the USA to litigate it. That's what lawyers are for...

Because of the 1980's anti-drug seizure laws; No, they dont.

Technically, the US government can 'subpoena' a wad of cash, or all your property. And because the Bill of Rights only applies to people, they keep the stuff. End of story.

Actually it's more like because the "Bill of Rights" is an inanimate piece of paper that has no bearing on the present-day government. In fact, it does more harm by letting people think that USG is bound by logical rules. Run through its amendments and see how many could possibly be considered effectual. I count three.

Maybe, but even if that's the case he started from nothing before. I honestly think he could even pull off a fundraiser.

I thought his money has been seized by the NZ government though.

Yes, NZ govt. Some of it has been returned to cover living expenses. Although I understand he also had/has some money in Hong Kong.

You do realize that if people like Kim Dotcom ... is that really his name? Fuck him, apparently his name is Kim Schmitz and I don't care what stupid name he changed his name to.

Wait, sorry, I got distracted, let me start my paragraph again.

You do realize that if people like Kim Schmitz win their legal cases it'll just mean a massive push to change the law? If current laws aren't good enough to stamp out things like MegaUpload (which, let's face it, is a massive scale piracy site which exists to make money off other people's IP) then the laws will be changed until they can.

I'm going to throw in my opinion on the name thing. I welcome disagreement, especially in this specific case, but there have been 3 or 4 different occasions lately where I have seen something similar come up.

Kim Dotcom legally changed his name, for whatever purported reasons (publicity, most likely). He willfully has chosen this as his legal name, and while the name (or his reasons) might be silly or frivolous, I think he is owed the due respect of calling him by his chosen name.

Other noteworthy examples of late have been Ron Artest changing his name to "Metta World Peace" and Chad Johnson to "Chad Ochocinco" (which he may have changed back, I cannot recall at this time).

Their chosen names may too be silly or frivolous, and I have seen media examples where they have called it out and said "forget that, I'm calling him Ron Artest/Chad Johnson, I don't care what his legal name is."

In my belief this is patently disrespectful, in the same way that it was disrespectful for people to call Muhammed Ali "Cassius" after he changed his name, and in the same way it would be disrespectful for me to call you by some name that you did not wish to be called by (legally, for religious purposes, or any other personal reason).

I do fully understand your stance and I wouldn't call it "wrong", I just don't agree with it.

His name is the least of his problems, as his antics and sleaziness are well documented. He makes a terrible hero, which probably factored into his being singled out.

This is what people aren't talking about. His attitude is what will put him behind bars.

> His attitude is what will put him behind bars.

What "attitudes" are jail-worthy? Be precise and justify your choices.

I personally believe that displaying your wealth to the wrong people is a wrong choice, especially when one teases with his wealth.

Speaking of precision, what will put you behind bars and what should put you behind bars are two different things.

>In my belief this is patently disrespectful, in the same way that it was disrespectful for people to call Muhammed Ali "Cassius" after he changed his name

Possibly, but since I don't respect Kimmy, it's appropriate that I should call him by his (sensible) birth name rather than the (ridiculous and embarrassing) name he chose for himself.

I don't respect Cassius Clay much either. Seriously, all that bragging is gauche. Saying you're "the greatest" just because you're pretty good at punching people? Get back to me when you've won a Fields Medal, dude.

> Saying you're "the greatest" just because you're pretty good at punching people? Get back to me when you've won a Fields Medal, dude.

If there were such a thing as a Fields Medal for boxing, Ali would have won it. He wasn't just "good at punching people", he brought in techniques that changed the sport.

It's fine that you are comfortable being as ignorant about boxing as most people are about math. That's your prerogative. That said, dismissing someone's accomplishments based on your ignorance is a shitty thing to do.

No, what I'm saying is that punching people isn't a worthwhile endeavour.

You are not the grand arbiter of worthwhile endeavours.

Ah, so you're dismissing people accomplishments based on your opinion of what their doing. That's also ... classy.

"Allah is the Greatest. I'm just the greatest boxer."

  -- Muhammad Ali

"Seriously, all that bragging is gauche."

It served a purpose. It got him publicity and was good for his career and in bringing attention to boxing. (I'm guessing you don't have anything good to say about Trump either.)

>Get back to me when you've won a Fields Medal, dude.

Quell the nerd rage.

Gauche? You know that manners were an invention of the aristocracy, right?

How was MU different from any other cloud storage provider, or for that matter, Google?

They let people store data on their servers and access it over the web from their browser. That's it. You might as well say "Fuck Tim Berners-Lee, if current laws aren't good enough to stamp out things like the Web, then the laws will be changed until they can." Which, frankly, seems to be happening, unfortunately.

MegaUpload operated with foreknowledge of extensive infringing activity on their site, and further willfuly acted to further that activity, for instance by creating an affiliate program that rewarded site members for pushing more copyrighted material to the site.

These assertions were corroborated by MegaUpload's own email.

Again: there are two sides to complying with copyright law to obtain protection under "safe harbor" rules. The side everyone is familiar with is "complying with takedown notices". But the other side, just as important, spelled out in the law, is not operating your service with foreknowledge of infringement. It isn't enough just to wait for copyright holders to send takedowns.

By actively courting piracy, MegaUpload forfeited safe harbor protections.

This question comes up in almost every thread about MegaUpload. The answer is very simple. Even if (in the back of their minds) the operators of Youtube must have known they were a haven for video piracy, so long as they themselves didn't engage with that piracy (and complied with takedowns) they were safe. MegaUpload's staff engaged.

So Google doesn't know there is infringing material on the web? YouTube doesn't have the foresight to realize users will upload TV shows, movies and music? If I recall correctly, MegaUpload gave copyright owners free reign to delete anything they wanted off the site with no takedown notice at all. Does Google allow just anyone to delete pages from their search results?

Tell me about these affiliate programs. Did they really say "Please help us infringe other people's copyright. The more you infringe, the more money you make!"? My understanding was that they encouraged user interaction, no differently than Facebook or any other commercial web site out there.

Thanks for asking this question. To help understand what's being alleged by the DOJ, you'd probably want to know what they found in Mega's email; for instance:

On or about April 23, 2009, DOTCOM sent an e-mail message to VANDER KOLK, ORTMANN, and BENCKO in which he complained about the deletion of URL links in response to infringement notices from the copyright holders. In the message, DOTCOMstated that “I told you many times not to delete links that are reported in batches of thousands from insignificant sources. I would say that those infringement reports from MEXICO of “14,000” links would fall into that category. And the fact that we lost significant revenue because of it justifies my reaction.”

* "We have a funny business... modern days pirates", said one Mega- employee to another. "We're not pirates", he responded. "We're just providing shipping services to pirates."

* When an outsider complained that MegaVideo's hosting of the Showtime pay-tv series "Dexter" had desynchronized audio/video, instead of taking down "Dexter", Kim Schmitz fired off mail saying that fixing the AV problem was a priority.

* Mega employees themselves uploaded copies of major motion pictures to the service, such as Luc Besson's _Taken_.

* There are Mega emails, on which Kim is apparently CC'd, in which employees enumerate the specific files uploaded to certain high-performing affiliate members, noting (approvingly) that they include copyrighted movies and TV shows. For instance, one line item in an accounting mail: 100 USD [USERNAME DELETED] 10+ Full popular DVD rips (split files), a few small porn movies, some software with keygenerators (warez)

Remember: there are two sides to claiming "safe harbor": complying with takedowns, and not operating your service with actual knowledge of infringing activity on the service. Mega obviously operated with extensive actual knowledge of infringement. The operators of Youtube obviously knew that piracy was rampant on the Internet, and even on their service, but no prosecutor or litigator was ever able to show that Youtube's operators knew of specific, actual infringing activity on the site.

I found it easier to cite my comments from the last big Mega thread here than to go back to the indictment, which you can find easily on Google. The indictment is hilarious. The craziness at Mega just goes on and on. If you can think of something a lawyer would tell you not to do if you were going to run a file sharing service, Mega probably found a creatively terrible way to do it.

Thanks for your answers. I don't think it warrants the attack on their company, but this is the first really damning evidence I've seen against MU since they were raided. I just thought they were considered an easy target because of their CEO's unsavory past.

Come on. You've had access to the Mega indictment almost since the week they were raided. You don't get to pretend that I just made some dazzling new case about Mega.

Face it: you're a strident defender of Mega, but never took a moment to look past the coverage of this case on sites like "Torrentfreak" to see the actual evidence the DOJ collected.

I'm not picking on you. I can't be: you're exactly like 98% of every defender of Mega on this site.

Happy to help! :)

For me, it's not about what they may/may not have done. What enrages me is how the government has behaved. The level of force was ridiculous (i mean - helicopters... for a video pirate!?). Not to mention they stole lots of legitimate data and have barely provided a means to some people to retrieve their data. Which wouldn't have happened at all if the MAFIAA had it their way.

>Not to mention they stole lots of legitimate data and have barely provided a means to some people to retrieve their data. Which wouldn't have happened at all if the MAFIAA had it their way.

Sigh....Assets get seized all the time during large raids and there is collateral damage, it is 100% legal. This isn't something new just because the MAFIAA was involved.

Sigh... This isn't somehow okay just because it is legal.

I'd agree that he seems to be guilty of civil copyright violation and that, if that's true, he deserves to have all his ill-gotten wealth sued away by the big media company's. But those weren't the charges the FBI brought against, him. He's being charged with criminal copyright infringement, and its likely that even MegaUpload's token compliance with the DMCA will be enough to avoid conviction on that charge. The criminal version requires mens rea, and if the owners of Mega Upload seriously intended to comply with the DMCA that's enough for a defense, unlike in a civil case where they would have actually have had to follow all the rules.

The affiliate program was for people pushing content, not specifically copyrighted content. Mega made money on site visits and account premiums

This is no different then Apple making a fortune off the ipod. The original iPod did not have a great store attached to it, it was simply a device for playing MP3s.

Wonder where all those MP3s came from?

Holding Mega accountable for the users actions is like saying Apple should pay the record companies for songs that were pirated on the ipods they sold, and continue to sell.


Huh? Apple never paid anyone a dime to put an infringing music file on their own or anyone else's service. Mega can't say the same thing.

Hmm... some of your other comments read like they were written by a PR firm, (take that as you will) and in this one it seems that you are being deliberately obtuse. At best it seems like you are arguing a technicality.

I'm not in any way defending the actions of MU, its founders or staff, but it had only be established that such devices were legal a year or so before the iPod was released. At the time there was no way to legally purchase MP3- or AAC-encoded music from any of the major recording labels, so the idea that selling those devices (and distributing an MP3 encoder with iTunes for free) was inducement to infringe copyright on a massive scale wasn't so obviously without merit.

A PR firm. It's like you can't even get your mind around the idea that there are people who don't see this issue your way.

> But the other side, just as important, spelled out in the law, is not operating your service with foreknowledge of infringement. It isn't enough just to wait for copyright holders to send takedowns.

> By actively courting piracy, MegaUpload forfeited safe harbor protections.

You are segueing between talking about DMCA "red flag" knowledge and the inducement standard from Grokster in a rather confusing way.

If we're talking about DMCA "red flags", one needs knowledge (not foreknowledge) of specific acts of infringement, not merely knowledge of infringement in general[1]. There may have been an email proving that, as it's been quite some time since I read the indictment, but I don't remember one offhand involving Kim Dotcom himself. Then you talk about something that sounds like inducement. That's something the Supreme Court invented in Grokster and it's a different standard altogether. It's a theory of vicarious liability that relies on "purposeful, culpable expression and conduct" while "mere knowledge of infringing potential or of actual infringing uses would not be enough here to subject a distributor to liability." [2]

I should also point out that Viacom had some incriminating emails from YouTube staff, which I believe you can find in some of the old Ars coverage of that case, but which I don't know the proper link to. But YouTube largely won the perception battle because of the obvious non-infringing uses of the site and because they went well above and beyond their DMCA obligations (though Viacom still sued them).

Mega is losing the same battle of perception because almost all of the non-infringing uses of their site were private (people sharing files among friends, rather than with the general public), while all infringing uses of the site were necessarily public. So even if they had a million innocent users and a thousand pirates, you'd only see all the files put up by the pirates and the million users would be largely invisible, because they had no interest in sharing their home movies (or whatever) with the world.

[1] "UMG v. Veoh held that generalized knowledge of infringement, without more, is not enough for red-flag knowledge" -- http://www.ipinbrief.com/dmca-contributory-infringement-vica...

[2] http://www.law.duke.edu/publiclaw/supremecourtonline/comment...

Sure there was. For instance: Kim Dotcom was personally involved in a customer support case wherein a complaint was heard about the video quality of uploads of Showtime's hit series "Dexter"; Dotcom is later observed in Mega emails to be reacting to the complaint by working on improving the video quality. In another similar case, a customer complained to Dotcom about a message from the site they received while watching uploads of "Mythbusters"; Dotcom verified the site was functioning correctly (the site was enforcing bandwidth limits; it was of no concern to Dotcom that the site was also obviously trafficking in infringing content). This is part of a repeating pattern of support and maintenance and logistics email threads Dotcom participated in that make it clear what the site is actually being used for.

That's obviously just Dotcom. When you broaden the inquiry to Mega's key employees, you find instances of them directly handling and uploading infringing content to the site.

Most damning from what I can read is the details of the affiliate program. In emails discovered by the DOJ, we have line-by-line accounting of Mega issuing payouts to people in which the actual line items specify that the activity being rewarded is infringing.

All of these, obviously, are cases in which Mega is shown to have actual, specific, actionable knowledge of infringing activity on their site. Rather than acting to retard infringement on the site, they are shown to abet it, groom it, and in many cases incentivize it financially.

All this should be obvious to anyone involved trying to run a content company on the Internet, of which there are many on HN. Does money fall out of the sky the moment you open a content site? No it does not. Most content companies fail, and portfolios are littered with the bones of companies that tried to make a go of file hosting.

What made Mega so profitable? Come on. We know what made Mega profitable. I don't understand why spend so much time vigorously kidding ourselves about this.

We've talked about this before; we both know that we've both read the indictment. To my mind: Mega is losing whatever "public perception" battle that they're losing because they're obviously a bunch of crooks. I'll happily soak up some downvotes in exchange for the ability to speak plainly. :)

Incidentally: my reading of the law doesn't come from Grokster; it comes from a plain reading of the DMCA, where the steps required to obtain safe harbor status are literally laid out in bullet points.

I'm more interested in making sure that inducement is not confused with DMCA red flag knowledge than defending Mega. You might want to read the holding in Veoh as well as the DMCA text itself, for example, because some of your statements appear at odds with it. You can find an analysis under footnote 1, above.

Of course, we're both focusing on US law and ignoring NZ law, which is more relevant, but less familiar to us all, and that's probably what this case will turn on in the end. Then again, knowing how these things get enforced in practice, the US authorities may find some way of making NZ law irrelevant.

I don't doubt that Kim could end up shipped off to America for trial, no matter what NZ law says about the subject.

You keep coming back to "generalized knowledge doesn't comprise red-flag knowledge", and I keep coming back with specific examples of red-flag knowledge. For instance, I can name the actual title of a copyrighted movie the Mega staff pushed onto the site. It was _Taken_, produced by Luc Besson. How did they know it was there, you might ask? Because they put it there.

Admittedly these issues are for the courts to decide, not message boards, but come on: by all the evidence available to us message board peons, these guys were a bunch of crooks.

> On or about October 25, 2008, VAN DER KOLK uploaded an infringingcopy of a copyrighted motion picture entitled “Taken 2008 DVDRip Repack [A Release LoungeH264 By Micky22].mp4” to Megaupload.com and e-mailed the URL link for the file to another individual.

This is not a fair example. A single staff member's personal use of the service has no bearing over the legitimacy of the service or whether the service has copyright liability. That's not the red-flag knowledge we're looking for.

Businesses that violate copyright -- even on massive scales -- usually resolve it through civil claims. I have little doubt Megaupload was a giant infringement scam, but if we let any vague or inconclusive evidence set a precedent for secondary copyright liability on a _criminal_ level, things could get out of hand.

> You keep coming back to "generalized knowledge doesn't comprise red-flag knowledge", and I keep coming back with specific examples of red-flag knowledge.

My post was not intended as a defense of them per se. I care more about the generalities of the law, rather than about MegaUpload specifically. You made it sound like knowledge of infringement in general was enough when it's not, per Veoh, prompting my post. If they had knowledge of specific acts of infringement, they may well be in trouble, but that wasn't my point.

And I should probably disclaim that, as always, anyone with more than an academic interest in this should consult a lawyer.

MegaUpload operated with foreknowledge of extensive infringing activity on their site, and further willfuly acted to further that activity, for instance by creating an affiliate program that rewarded site members for pushing more copyrighted material to the site.

I think in some of your responses you are mistaking a condemnation of the US law enforcement approach with a defense of MegaUpload's practices.

Let's say that investor G, a citizen of country U, owns part of a website S that profits by republishing PDF files without explicit permission of the rights' holders. Let's posit that somewhere there exists email showing that G knows that some of these files not always legal.

G also operates another website Y that allows members to submit links to content. G encourages frequent submitters by establishing a point system to reward submissions with increased status within the community. Graham then adds code to his website that automatically resubmits some of these links to S, causing it to be (on occasion) illegally hosted.

The government of a small Southern Hemisphere Z is then lobbied by it's constituent corporations to take action to prevent this crime, which is without doubt clearly probably illegal under Z's laws, and almost as certainly illegal in U. Would country U be justified in seizing G's assets, shutting down his companies, and imprisoning him while while Z is preparing it's case against him?


Personally, I don't really fault the US government for acting as it did. It took action that benefited its benefactors. You've got power, you use it. It's also hard to fault New Zealand, as it was probably offered as a "bargain you can't refuse". I don't dispute that Megaupload was only a viable company to the extent that it engaged in currently illegal activity, although I don't think this is different than the way many other now legitimate companies got started.[x]

But I certainly hold to task anyone who argues that the behaviour of the US goverment was legal, moral, or tolerable. I find it no more defensible than assassinating him with an unmanned drone operating within a sovereign country. At least if they'd done that they might have fewer defenders.

[x] Such as Google. In addition to my example here, and well before Youtube came into the picture, I'd suggest that from the beginning Google was based on what at the time was "clearly" illegal behaviour to many.

Scanning the web to index all the content one can reach, ignoring the clearly stated Terms of Service printed on these pages? Storing the full text on their own servers? Serving excerpts to users? Serving complete copies of these pages? All of this was in doubt, and I'm glad that no foreign superpower with an entrenched interest stepped in to quash it before it could develop further.

My belief is that there is no clear legal difference between Megaupload and many other sites on the internet, just differences in selective enforcement. Text search is fully legal, image search is largely tolerated but still formally debated (see recent German supreme court decision), and music and video remain the Wild West. It's not that there is no law, but the law as enforced not necessarily consistent with the law on the books. There is a moral and ethical landgrab going on, and I'd bet that some online activities that are "clearly illegal" today will be fully accepted as legal in only a few years.

> How was MU different from any other cloud storage provider, or for that matter, Google?

Google, Dropbox, and so on were not founded by people who had been convicted of fraud, insider trading, and embezzlement, and in their entire adult lives only seemed to not be involved in criminal activity when they were still on parole from their previous conviction and so HAD to keep clean to avoid having parole revoked.

That tends to make people, including law enforcement, give Google and the others the benefit of the doubt when they say that any misuse of their service is not intended on their part and they will try to stop it.

This is simply ad hominem. I asked how the web service differed in specific ways related to copyright, not how the founders differed in general.

Then the question should have been resolved to your satisfaction upthread: Mega was a service, run by a criminal, that conspired overtly to profit from infringement of music, TV, software, and motion picture copyright.

@tptacek, don't you think this point about Apple and the iPod (as well as early Youtube behavior) have some bearing on this case? Obviously Apple knew for a long time that the vast majority of music on mp3 players was copied, probably illegally. They provided tools to "rip" the CDs! In Apple's case, they stayed well on the legal side of the letter of the law, but the underlying reality was the iPod siphoned off a lot of profit from the record labels because the ability to carry a lot of music with you was so compelling, legal or not.

In the MU case, setting aside the unsavory aspects of Kim Dotcom, they were well on the other, illegal, side of the letter of the law.

But in both cases, the defense of the behavior comes down to legal technicalities, as opposed to broader concepts of "fairness" or "ethicalness."

Really, it seems the same with Google, as long as they comply with the DMCA they are safe, but I doubt they care to much about the wellbeing of content owners whose content is being infringed and accessed through Google. That's money in the bank to them.

I'm not trolling, just curious as to your thoughts on this.

FWIW, I do support the concept of intellectual property. But I think it should be enforced against for profit entities, and take a live and let live when it comes to individuals copying for their own use. It's messy obviously, such a distinction might not be able to be enforced.

But I don't think it's as much a case of ethical behavior as other laws address (laws against violent crime for example).

His non-answer makes the real answer clear; they are not.

You do realize that the DMCA, SOPA, PIPA, ACTA etc. were dreamed up without Kim Dotcom winning anything, except maybe a free raid on his house?

So we shouldn't take advantage of current laws because then they might get changed and we wouldn't be able to take advantage of current laws anymore? Hm.

The Miranda decision didn't lead people to change the law, and that literally lets people get away with murder, not this moral equivalent of mass jaywalking.

I agree with your point. However, it will happen anyway. We know they are trying to force draconian laws down our throats already.

As I keep saying, people need to wake up and take some responsibility for allowing our democratically elected governments to treat us the people like their business pawns. Problem is most people dont care because it does not effect them. Never forget the selfish serf serving nature of humans.

Sorry to be biter and negative, but history has left me no option. Government will prioritise business over the rest of us. I mean, banks?

> If current laws aren't good enough to stamp out things like mixed race schools, same sex marriage, The right to privacy of your own information, etc. then the laws will be changed until they can.


The majority of the HNers believe that there should be no intellectual property at all. Whether this is wise or not hardly matters because changing the law to reflect such a radical position will be virtually impossible. Enforcing the current law is, of course, another matter.

Edit: I could be wrong about the majority of HN but pg clearly feels that way.

I'm aware that pg believes that intellectual property should enjoy less protection that it currently does (which I'd suggest is the consensus view of HN?). Your claim that he clearly feels that there should be no intellectual property is at odds with what I've read from him. Can you link me to what he's written or said that displays his feelings as you understand them?

In his essay about property http://paulgraham.com/property.html he claims copyright is like smelling the aroma of a entree. Essentially anything that can be easily copied deserves no copyright. He has intimated that it is fine to pirate AutoCAD and Photoshop, although he dances around and never says anything concrete, so all the downloaders are free to think they are helping his revolution with every copyright infringement.

>The majority of the HNers believe that there should be no intellectual property at all.

Most also make their living off producing intellectual property, which is... interesting at the very least.

Also most will totally get onboard the intellectual property train as soon as it's the IP of a sympathetic target (e.g. The Oatmeal) that's being threatened.

Basically the average HNer believes that copyright law should be "I can have whatever I want for free", hasn't thought it through too carefully beyond that.

Basically the average HNer believes that copyright law should be "I can have whatever I want for free"

That's not the average HNer, that's the average human. HNers are willing to go to great lengths to justify and rationalize their self-serving positions.

Indeed, as they snipe from the safety of their SaaS towers.

Not that safe. Someone could always steal your hard work by doing a copy/paste of your site's CSS and using it for their SaaS tower.

Well I would think pg has thought it through, but there are a lot of newbies on HN as evidenced by the sudden use of OMG and LOL that was absolutely not on HN before his "Kill Hollywood" essay.

Quite possibly. Certainly in the old days one could express an opinion that "Hey, maybe there's certain advantages to copyright law" without getting modded down to numbers so low that the HN system refuses to express them.

Y'know that book "Fifty Shades Of Grey"? Well that's what your comment's gonna go through in the next hour if you disagree with (I can't believe I'm saying this) the hivemind.

edit: Also, what's with this new "You're submitting too fast. Please slow down" message you get if people start downvoting your posts? I've had it swallow a bunch of (intelligent) posts this morning due to the fact that I expressed an unpopular opinion on a copyright thread.

That fucking does it.

Maybe the service wasn't illegal, but he is still a criminal. Just look up his history what he did to the warez scene with his friend Gravenreuth. He also was involved in other criminal activities, so I don't know how people can say "The poor guy".

I don't think he care much about internet freedom and he would probably sell his mom if he could make money with it.

PS:(google translation of a paragraph on https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Schmitz)

"Schmitz, who claimed to be a "highly talented high school" placed at the boarding school at Plön have visited, in reality, Henry Harms school, a school principal Plön. After leaving school he spent two years in boarding school Rohwedder, a facility for adolescents with behavioral problems."

I would sum him as fat, retarded, wannabe hacker chav with a strange drain to criminal activities, who try to place himself in the center of attention. He couldn't get attention without doing this things, because nobody would give a fuck about him.

I would sum him as fat, retarded, wannabe hacker chav

I was with you up until this point. None of those things are relevant to whether he engages in criminal behaviour.

I agree with your point, but would you really trust sensible data to such a person, which is known as a liar? I think the risk is too high. Lying to customers can also be fraud in some cases.

Regardless, prosecuting someone in an illegal fashion for something that wasn't a crime is something a government shouldn't do.

That's true and the USA also did a lot of things wrong. I just dislike that he get that much support now and people see him as a star, just because of megaupload. I doubt that the guy changed his mindset and he will stay a criminal.

Yet you still maintain your anger at him and not the agencies who "did a lot of things wrong."

Still, breaking the law to prove someone is breaking the law taints your claims; and these claims have taint all over them.

Interesting comment stream.

In one view you have 'America, World Police' being handed a defeat. That is a good thing because I believe that both the precedents the USA is trying to set on the world scene are wrong, they will also come back to roost in unpleasant ways.

In one view you have a victory for the Libertarian Internet which gives us a stronger 'nation independent' view of the Internet, but this is part of a wider set of events which are trying to figure out the role of the 'information-state' if such a thing could exist. This is stuff SF writers have chewed on considerably and to see it in 'real life' is fascinating.

In the third view we have someone who has many of the characteristics of 'nerds' which seem to have taken on some of the aspects of a counter culture.

The interesting things is that this fiasco has neatly tied together three on-going 'conversations' [1] about the autonomy of the Internet, the role of nation states in world government, and the rise of 'nerd culture'.

As we enter the 'post-American' century the discussion of world government will be be, by far, the most influential on our day to day lives, but the autonomy of the Internet will also become a central theme, much as human rights is a central theme in our interactions. The story of Kim Dotcom will then fade to being the tag line for one of the things that shaped how we feel about the first two.

[1] The term 'conversations' here is used to indicate that its a topic of discussion at all levels of our society with various competing views fighting for dominance as the 'group consensus'. This is also the name of the process by which a community arrives at a common understanding much like two people conversing about the topic might come to a consensus.

I'm curious now. Does the warrant being invalid open the US up to a class action suite from people who lost data? I know nothing about the law regarding this sort of thing but its what immediately leaped to my mind when I saw this article.

[Edit: spelling]

Does Dotcom have any legal recourse to sue the FBI/US Gov't if he is found not guilty/the case is thrown out?

People need to realize that this kind of action is not O.K., and those responsible should be brought to justice.

The US gov't doesn't have to answer for its crimes, obviously. For example, to achieve everlasting immunity they simply don't subscribe to the international court.

Since Mega/Dotcom had no representation in the US (on purpose), I'd say no. He could try going after the NZ police though.

> He could try going after the NZ police though.

According to the judge, the NZ Police clearly broke the law, so he should go after them.

Nobody can sue the US Government without the US Government's permission.

Correct, it's called sovereign immunity.

US citizens most certainly can.

No, they cannot. Sovereign immunity is absolute. US citizens can only sue when granted permission.

As 30thElement noted, the Federal Tort Claims Act grants this permission to sue. But there is no such right, and it is within the Federal government's power to change its mind and repeal the statute.

You mean civil lawsuits? That’s not what I was talking about.

What were you talking about then? "Suing" is always a civil action. Taking someone to court for a criminal act is called prosecution and can't be done by just anybody.

I asked this in the other thread but no one responded so I'll try here again: This appears related to Dotcoms house raid and seizure. Is the raid on all of the servers in VA still valid? I'd assume that is where the majority of all of the evidence in this case lies, and if that is still valid there is still a huge case to be had. Does anyone know?

The raid in VA is "valid" until a US court says otherwise. The NZ court only has jurisdiction over those parts of the case that pertain to NZ, although it has ordered the US to turn over any evidence they have on K.C to his defense. Again, though, that's only as it relates to the extradition process.

Cold comfort, since the FBI will keep his servers tied up in knots until the end of time and most likely, refuse to pay for the loss of business.

Wonderful! Kim Dotcom doesn't seem like the cleanest of individuals but the US government is even worse. I hope that people in NZ law enforcement suffer enough career damage that other countries think twice before simply bending over for US exceptionalism.

If the 150 TB's slowed down local law enforcement enough to make them mishandle the warrant, any bets on how many petabytes he'll have waiting for them next time? : )

The US government has successfully destroyed the world's largest storage medium that they couldn't just walk in and spy on without detection (US-based companies are subject to The Patriot Act and other "laws" that stand in defiance of The US Constitution).

I don't see how this counts as a "victory." It is probably all part of the game plan.

But on the good side, it should be harder to get other countries to simply play the bitch and do whatever the US says in future.

That's not how these things work. Governments don't give up. Next time they will not make same mistake or get laws passed so this is no longer mistake/illegal or just do it again the same and gamble they get a more cooperative judge.

Every country is not the US. There are still a lot of countries where the people have some say in what goes on and fight against such laws getting created in the first place.

Care to name them? I've been looking for them, and can't find any.

Well I can think of at least two direct democracies: Switzerland and Iceland.

Switzerland is better than the US when it comes to corruption, but it's a far cry from people really having a say.

Iceland HAS recently changed from a politician's country to the people's country, but it took going broke to do so. (If it wasn't for people literally in the streets with pitchforks, the Icelandic prime minister would have signed the country away to European interests).

But I'll accept the premise. So, we've got 2 countries out of a couple of hundreds. That's not "a lot" by any meaning of the word. That's one country (Switzerland) that has recently demonstrated it will do the US' bidding about bank secrecy, despite hundreds of years of tradition (with no asking the people if they like it or not), and Iceland - a country of <400,000 people. That's slightly larger than Rochester, NY. It's comparable to the number of people who lose their job in the US every week.

Kim will get his servers and hardware back.... Pulverized to pieces by the might of a legion of pissed off FBI data workers who had their power checked and found lacking. You gotta set an example that even when you win a battle against organized crime, they make you pay dearly for every inch.

I thought he had leased them all.

His wife is hot.

She's only there for his money.

Kim isn't a hero, nice or generous person. He's just a geek with money who is now 'abusing' his new found wealth.

I don't look up to him, personally.

Well you are one of the few on HN. Although a lot of it is probably more of a hate America thing, which is always popular.

Right, because disagreeing with U.S. government policy is equivalent to hating the entirety of America.

I meant a sympathetic view towards dingleberry was partly due to a dislike of America( government, corporations, certain people) and not because they think he is a swell chap.

Most people enjoy jumping on the bandwagon, I prefer to look at the bigger picture.

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