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Kim Dotcom: Joe Biden Ordered the Megaupload Shutdown (torrentfreak.com)
217 points by rkudeshi on July 3, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 88 comments

MPAA "lobbying" the VP of US, and then the VP ordering the shutdown of a company from another country on behalf of MPAA (illegally it seems, from recent news).

I think this would be called "corruption" in any other country but US.

"I think this would be called "corruption" in any other country"

Boys, looks like we got us a terrorist right here. Better shut down his terror website.

If you only hear one side of the story you can't make an informed decision. Fact is the entertainment industry lobby is well organized and able to have their voice heard. The general public is unorganized in this area and rather dispersed.

This is a classic case of concentrated benefits with dispersed cost. It's a messed up situation, but not corrupt.

It's not corruption if he didn't personally benefited from it.

The problem is that if your only source of information is biased, you take the wrong decisions.

I'd say reelection to the second most powerful office in the country is a pretty compelling personal benefit.

The fine line usually placed in the US between corruption and politics as normal is that of the quid pro quo; it's fine to take money from people who happen to share your beliefs, but if you change your votes because of that money, it's corruption.

Politicans have always hidden behind the plausible deniability this gives. You can always claim that you changed your mind on an issue of your own free will, and the donations came later as an unexpected benefit.

But ultimately, it causes well funded interests to dominate political discussion. The teacher's union is almost uncrossable, but how much funding do homeless lobbies get?

Charitably, this is because of survivorship bias - politicans who don't have platforms that generate revenue die out - senators already literally spend half their time raising money [1]. More likely, everyone in congress and the senate sees the writing on the wall and preemtively switches to the right platforms.

The cracks are starting to show in this veneer of innocence, with Chris Dodd earlier this year directly threatening to withhold donations based on SOPA, unless the Obama administration toes the line [2]. It's so long been an open secret in Washington that it was a small step forward for Dodd to take, but it had the unusual effect of exposing the Washingtonian power games to the rest of the country, so it caused quite a bit stir up.

I'm not taking a side on what happened. I genuinely have no opinion one way or another. But if it were as mtgx suggests to curry favour with the MPAA to mend bridges after SOPA, there is zero lattitude on this. It would be corruption.

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lawrence-lessig/a-big-moment_b...

[2] http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120120/14472117492/mpaa-d...

Edit: tows->toes. Yes I am an idiot.

> The cracks are starting to show in this veneer of innocence, with Chris Dodd earlier this year directly threatening to withhold donations based on SOPA, unless the Obama administration toes the line [2].

I don't get why this is any more of a problem than money in politics in general. If you give money based on how much you support a politician, and they change their positions, and now you agree less, you don't give them money anymore.

What's the alternative?

"If you've ever given money to a politician, you have to keep doing so even if they change their minds about the issues you care about"?

"Politicians are legally forbidden from changing their mind, even in the face of cogent arguments and massive disagreement from their constituents"?

"Giving money and stopping giving money based on a politician's stances are fine but SSSHHHH don't talk about it!"?

> What's the alternative?

Politicians' campaign spending is strictly limited by law:


Right, "less money in politics" is a partial fix for the problems of money in politics. My point is that railing against what Dodd said is silly. I've no objection to proposals for fixing (or even just improving) the system as a whole.

>unless the Obama administration tows the line [2]. It'


You toe a line.

You put your toe up to the line and stay within that line.

either that, or you have a rope, or "line", attached to something heavy, such as a barge on a canal, and you have to help "tow the line" to get the cargo moving.

Not in this case.

"the second most powerful office in the country". We are talking about the vice presidency here, correct?

I admit, that was a poor choice of words. How about second most visible, or second most prestigious?

My point was that it's an enviable position, not least of which because it's a great stepping stone to becoming president. Actual political power aside.

"My point was that it's an enviable position,"

It's been described by someone who had that position as "not worth a bucket of warm spit".

"not least of which because it's a great stepping stone to becoming president."

This is actually pretty uncommon, in practice.

Anyway, in Biden's specific case, there's no way he'll be President. He probably won't be running for VP again.

That I can agree with.

From the article: Noteworthy is also the MPAA's lobbying disclosure statement of last year which includes money spent on lobbying the office of Vice President Joe Biden.

Spending money on lobbying essentially means paying a lobbyist to have a meeting with important people. It's not like they're handing over briefcases of money.

No... they just spend $10k+ for a dinner plate at a political fundraiser so they can have their side 'heard'.

Come on. It's legalized corruption with one degree of separation from outright "handing over briefcases of money".

To be fair, we don't know that to be the case, yet.

I do have to say that implicating Biden in a corruption-feeling scandal during an election year is a great legal strategy.

And a dishonest one at that. He's behaving no differently than the rest of Washington.

If everyone is doing it, is it not a scandal any more?

I'm sure the MPAA members are generously contributing to the Obama/Biden re-election funds.

I don't understand why you're sure of that, considering how pissed MPAA members are with the Obama administration over SOPA. But I guess deciding something is true is easier than Googling it. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/19/obama-sopa-chris-do...

I googled it, and come up with a much more recent story about Obama raising a record $15 million at a Hollywood fundraiser.


So while the MPAA may have been posturing about being angry, the reality is they are going to continue to flood money into the Obama/Biden campaign.

There's a big difference between the Hollywood liberal crowd, who have always been hardcore Obama fans, and the lobbying wing of the MPAA. They are not the same community.

How are they not the same community? The MPAA is Walt Disney, Paramount, Sony, Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros. The people at these Hollywood fundraisers work for and with Walt Disney, Paramount, Sony, Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros.

When the MPAA threatens to cut off funds, the implication isn't just that whatever amount the MPAA has to throw around will go away, it is that the big dollars from the 6 member studios and the super rich executive and celebrity donors will go away. But you still see that money flowing. Just one example, also from Hollywood Reporter, "Jamie and Michael Lynton - He’s CEO of Sony, and she’s a veteran Democratic activist. The two are raising $500,000-plus for Obama this season. Michael has had almost a dozen meetings at the White House, some regarding anti-piracy."

Because the MPAA and RIAA represent the owners and executives of the movie and record companies. "Hollywood" is also comprised of moneyed actors, musicians and artists that generally tend to lean to the left politically. There is definitely a difference between the two "camps"

In that perspective the Megaupload shutdown seems like a pretty good way to make amends right after the SOPA fiasco.

> It's not corruption if he didn't personally benefited from it.

I expect the Obama/Biden election campaign got contributions from MPAA companies. Shutting down Megaupload was payback.

It depends what is considered a benefit. There is something like elections in the next months...

Generally, I want politicians to do things that will make me vote for them!

Voting is one thing. Financial contribution to the campaign is a different thing. I imagine it's the latter that's at issue here.

So yes, you want politicians to do things that will get people to vote for them. But you do not necessarily want politicians to do things to get companies to pay for their campaigns.

It's not only a question of finance. A support is much more relevant as has been seen in the French presidential election. If a candidate doesn't have the public media support, election can become a very difficult up hill battle.

The goal should have been to have more justice in this world. What happened there is wrong. The extradition of the UK "pirate" is much worse and a treason of a country against its own citizen.

If this is actually true, I think it gets called "corruption" here too. Biden may not have received monetary compensation, but if this is what happened, Dodd owes him a hell of a favor.

It most certainly is called corruption by the people of the US....

Im as an American am both ticked at Biden, and happy that this sort of thing is coming to light due to the Dotcom political thriller.

I love when experts give their opinion.

As much as the MPAA appalls me, this really isn't corruption unless a gratuity was offered in return for some sort of political favour.

Establish that, then you have corruption - in the U.S. and everywhere else in the world.

I seem to recall that there was a threat of cutting off the campaign contributions if the administration didn't pass the laws that the MPAA wanted passed.

I don't think what you described is corruption. That sounds like protecting the interests of US businesses from overseas criminals.

So if I pay a cop $1mil to kill the guy that was convicted of raping my child, is that cool too?

Just because someone is or is not guilty, that does not make corruption OK.

What part of mtgx's post said anyone got paid off? edit: oh I see, "lobbying" complete with scarequotes.

We call this corruption or perhaps incompetence here too. Where people from outside the US get the idea that we're all a bunch of blind, unthinking, flag waving yokels I do not know.

The striking thing to me about the MU shutdown was the timing right after the defeat of SOPA. It was like the government wanted to teach "the people" a lesson for getting too uppity. Like "Oh, you think we can't shut down your websites just because we don't have this little law that you rose up against? Well watch this."

With all the political uproar that was going on that week it would be surprising if the FBI had not gone to the White House before pulling the trigger on the raid.

An operation like the MU investigation and raid takes many months, if not years, to plan and execute, especially when it involves cooperation with officials in several countries.

It is almost impossible that the timing had anything to do with SOPA, considering that the SOPA defeat was rather unexpected.

It did not seem like they were prepared very well, since they couldn't even get the paperwork right for the arrest. That does not look like something well planned at all.

You're using logic and an unbiased point-of-view.

Which is starkly different from the other side, which tends to revert to conspiracy theories every time.

The timing of the shutdown likely had more to do with:

(1) Megaupload suing Universal, in a lawsuit they were likely to win, and were then forced to drop the lawsuit after the raid.

(2) The raid happened just prior to Megaupload releasing a new service called MegaBox, which would allow artists to legally sell music directly to fans, allowing artists to keep 90% of the profits, as well as introducing a feature that allowed artists to make money off music that listeners were streaming for free.

It turns out the FBI had been spying MegaUpload for the past 5+ years


With the fact that they don't have any evidence to present a case that there was actual illegal activity going on that required the raid, I would say it's more likely that the pressure for the raid to come when it did came directly from the entertainment industry / UMG.

It's more likely that the shutdown was planned to coincide with the SOPA bill. Even though SOPA was unexpectedly derailed, the raid had too much momentum and continued on regardless.

That's very paranoid. Occam's razor, my friend. They were probably going to do this anyway with timing being a coincidence. People give the US government too much credit for planning devious things. Most of it is a lot of fuck-ups and political favors. Nothing more. I sincerely doubt the Feds did this as so to give the finger to protesters. They've been doing this long before SOPA was introduced and will continue too. SOPA just codifies the status quo so that the chances of anyone getting in trouble for shutting sites down becomes nil.

> Most of it is a lot of fuck-ups and political favors.

There is a contradiction there perhaps. Political favors includes buckling due to lobbying. Then US govt. is just a proxy for large banking interests, the military industrial complex, pharmaceuticals, large agribusiness etc. So no the govt. might not have really cared about MU but maybe MPAA cared and when they care they line pockets and make promises about future rewards

So, the only way out for anyone who wants to survive is to lobby? Seems like the only solution out to me.

I've always had this problem with lobbying. If everyone has to lobby and I guess it mostly requires money these days then how is it not "legal bribing"?

Lobbying has always been legalized corruption, however it is better than actual corruption because it allows people to monitor the "bribes" (i.e. they're not hidden from everyone's eyes).

The key is to make the bribes matter less, by limiting the size and scope of government's power.

I agree with you wholeheartedly, but it seems we've reached the point that not only can we not shrink the size and scope of government power, we can't even stop it from growing.

But then you can't end people's careers when you catch them taking "bribes". Honestly, I can't see how it's any better. Now we just get to watch it happening but we still can't do anything about it.

The Democrats have long been best friends with the Entertainment Industry, but so what? The Vice-President simply has no power to order anything more complex than pizza. He can suggest, plead, and implore, but someone else has to actually take the responsibility for the action and order something to occur.

This is a discussion, not a Court of Law, so let me state my view clearly: Kim Dotcom created an extensive enterprise aimed specifically at violating copyrights while attempting to shield the enterprise with the minimum amount of "compliance" they could get away with. It's entirely possibly that his corporation broke no laws. Regardless of his possible legal innocence, the speculations of a sleezy businessman like Dotcom regarding the integrity of the Vice President is unworthy of consideration.

> the speculations of a sleezy businessman like Dotcom regarding the integrity of the Vice President is unworthy of consideration.

Textbook ad hominem. His business practices are completely irrelevant to the questions of impropriety raised and the illegal conduct of the authorities involved.

Logical fallacies are all that are going on here - all of the evidence that has been presented is highly circumstantial. Just because something is possible doesn't mean it happened.

Ad Hominem applies to facts and reproducible reasoning. It does not apply to mere slander.

Name one serious question of illegal conduct raised by Dotcom.

The raid carried out by NZ authorities was declared illegal by a judge, for one..

Furthermore, "Kim Dotcom is a $negative_thing" is an adhom no matter how you slice it, when the question is "Do his claims have any merit". He could be a mother-stabbing father-raper, claims are still supposed to be evaluated on their merit, not their speaker!

> The Vice-President simply has no power to order anything more complex than pizza. He can suggest, plead, and implore, but someone else has to actually take the responsibility for the action and order something to occur.

Although officially the office only has a couple of duties, a modern US VP has a bunch of roles and powers that are not outside of the law but not spelled out. Really, modern US VPs are kinda like co-presidents. VPs now get included in cabinet meetings, do negotiations with Congress or more. Kennedy put LBJ in charge of the space program. Rockafeller headed certain judicial inquiries. Nixon, when he was VP, sat in on the National Security Council.

So, when Biden talks, is that Obama talking? Maybe.

> Kim Dotcom created an extensive enterprise aimed specifically at violating copyrights while attempting to shield the enterprise with the minimum amount of "compliance" they could get away with. It's entirely possibly that his corporation broke no laws.

That's no different than what other companies do, now. Sometimes they won't even go that far. :)

Anyways, if the words “Obedience to the law is liberty” means anything, that has to include our leaders, too.

> So, when Biden talks, is that Obama talking? Maybe.

Your reasoning fails here. An ATTORNEY does not just guess at who is ordering him to do something. An Attorney only obey an order from the VP if someone he reports to ordered him to, in which case the person who ordered him owns the responsibility for the action.

And since the action is hardly a secret, that person knows and owns the action.


I apologize for my abrasiveness. I meant only to disagree. Much of your reasoning was excellent and though I did not acknowledge it, I especially agree with the point that many in the executive branch would feel that an instruction from the VP is to be obeyed. I felt that this point was so strong, that it required rebuttal in the specific case of an Attorney receiving instruction.

Heh. np. i realized i sounded harsh so i deleted it.

"Really, modern US VPs are kinda like co-presidents.

Modern VPs have only the powers and responsibilities allotted to them by the President. Cheney was an outlier, and was able to grab so much power because Bush was a moron, and agreed to it.

The Vice-President simply has no power to order anything more complex than pizza.

Having the tie-breaking vote in the Senate is a very tangible power of the VPOTUS, especially when it is needed.

I do agree that MU may be able to prove that it didn't break any laws, due to their minimal DMCA compliance. And, it is for that reason that higher powers in the US may have had to resort to illegal tactics to shut the website down. I also agree that Biden, if he was involved, would not actually take the responsibility for any actions. However, politicians are playing a game of public perception, and none of them want their names brought up when foul play is being exposed.

Ever since we decided that all senate votes are going to be 60-40, the vp's vote has become a lot less important.

Tie-breaking votes haven't been used since the Carter administration: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tie-breaking_votes_cast...

While I'm all for decrying corrupt business practices there are far more worthwhile targets out there like Goldman Sachs but they've bought political immunity and worse still this case clearly shows the ugly side of insidious corruption in American politics regardless of your views on Kim Dotcom.

His worse crime seems to have been not paying off the politicians.

And cheering that on from the sidelines seems an odd choice for a rallying call against legalized corruption.

Somewhere, the MPAA is watching people who want to liberalize copyright law. Watching them tarnish the reputation of the entire liberalization movement by publicly cheering on an sleazy businessman whose picture and life history are repugnant to those who are uninformed on this issue. The MPAA could not have picked a better person to play the villain if they tried.

They are very, very pleased with this outcome.

> an sleazy businessman whose picture and life history are repugnant to those who are uninformed on this issue.

Can you point to some posts of this nature? All I've seen from the "uninformed" so far is heaps of support.

(Which I actually find pretty funny, because while Dotcom may have landed on the right side of things by chance this time, he does seem pretty repugnant.)

I'm well aware, the bit about him being unable to buy land in New Zealand because he couldn't pass the "good character" test is my favorite.

My point was that the only comments I've ever seen on the web were mostly siding with Dotcom. Unless of course your point is that Hollywood is trying to win the sort of people who don't post to online discussions, in which case you have a point.

On first glance at the headline, I really thought Kim Dotcom had gone off the deep end, but the evidence really does make it sound plausible.

Sigh. We definitely have the best politicians money can buy...

Yeah, the evidence is pretty damning. No doubt those visitors logs will soon be pulled from public access due to national security reasons for protection from terrorists who run file locker services.

These "gift" investigations and the game theory behind them are somewhat troubling.

Most medium to large sized technology companies that get big enough to attract parasites will gladly cooperate with an investigating authority (such as the FBI) and turn over user activity records without much of a stink in exchange for a future favor down the road rather than hold their ground and demand warrants, subpoenas and the rest of the 9 yards.

If you promise to aid the FBI into perpetuity, they will on occasion nail some malicious user that's giving you a hard time - like that 16 year old from Des Moines who is submitting stolen credit cards (that were found on twitter via @NeedADebitCard, naturally) to pay for your merchandise and giving you a headache in chargeback fees.

It's a cool superpower but it's probably not doing much to address the root of your problems.

Worse, it quickly turns the FBI into a sort of protection racket for the Fortune 5000.

From another perspective, Chris Dodd is a lobbyist who's earned every penny of his pay. Still a scumbag, though.

It seems at least as plausible that they were there to discuss ACTA, which was signed three months later.

Beside, it wasn't the Executive branch that ordered the Megaupload shutdown: it was the grand jury, followed by an Australian judge (apparently improperly.) Mr. Dotcom doesn't appear understand the US legal system.

Or, more likely, he is willfully ignoring it in favor of a story. Given the lack of evidence that the VP actually did anything, much less that he did anything corrupt, this seems like a desperate bid for attention.

Australian judge

New Zealand. You might aswell call Joe Biden vice president of Canada.

A grand jury doesn't form on its own, an FBI prosecutor initiates the indictment, and as the famous quote says, a prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich if that's what he wanted.

Also, yea, New Zealand is not Australia.

I know a lot of NZ'ers who would consider your comment an insult!

This doesn't surprise me at all. As I've said before, including in reply to some hopeful comments regarding the Obama Administrtion's possibly intervening in the SOPA/PIPA fracas, Biden is a tool -- and a complete tool, in this regard.

Joe Biden: Tool. Perhaps his legacy, reduced to a single word. (Oh, and "trains!")

that biden is a stooge for the entertainment industry is no secret, though i doubt he could've made this happen at a drop of the hat, as the article purports.

mpaa chairman chris dodd is an influential democrat with strong ties to the obama administration, biden in particular. entertainment industry has historically had an oversized presence in washington, and the tech industry an undersized one. this is why our copyright debate has been driven by an incumbent-dominated industry rather than the innovator/disruptor one such as ours.

it's telling that we've all so negatively reacted to recent story of washington telling apple to spend more on lobbying, calling it a shakedown - but we'd be wise to think about that more carefully and not dismiss at our own peril.

Joe Biden is sick idiot.

I just cross-posted this to a subreddit I started recently, /r/Orwellian. It's still small at 76 readers, but I figured there might be interest here. I'm hoping for it to be a non-partisan place to share/discuss the myriad of government abuses coming to light.

Can't say I'm a big fan of the name "Orwellian" for that category. I know the term commonly refers to the premise of Orwell's 1984 novel for which he's most known, but he wrote important pieces on other subjects, such as communism, which adds baggage to the term. Maybe referring to the novel 1984 more directly, such as /r/1984 or /r/bigbrother would be an improvement. Otherwise, I'd probably go for something a little less tinfoil-hat since there's already a /r/conspiracy with lots of followers.

Slashdot has "Your Rights Online". Ars has "Law and Disorder". Looking up a few keywords, I notice that there's also /r/SOPA, /r/rights, /r/yro, /r/privacy, /r/freedom, /r/internetfreedom, /r/civilliberties, /r/civlib and others. Maybe some consolidation is in order.

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