by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 16th 2013 7:58pm
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 9th 2013 5:52am
from the blah-blah-blah dept
Holder, in his usual fashion, answers with generalities that don't actually answer the questions being asked. He gives his standard "intellectual property theft = bad!" speech:
Well I don't want to comment on a case that is pending. But I will say, more generally, that we are very concerned about the theft of intellectual property. It's something that we take very seriously, both in the United States, and I think our allies do as well. With regard that case, we've been cooperating with the New Zealand authorities. And I will just rely on the pleadings we have filed in court to talk about that.First of all, we've pointed this out before, but you would think that the supreme "lawyer" for the government would know the damn law. There is no "intellectual property theft." That's a made up term by copyright maximalists. There is such a thing as copyright infringement, which is what he means. He should use the actual term. Otherwise it does make him look like a pawn of Hollywood.... Which leads right into the next question. The interviewer notes that Kim Dotcom has been saying that the case is all about the DOJ "heeding the beck and call of Hollywood moguls." Holder immediately responds:
Well, that's not true. I don't want to comment on that case other than to say that it was brought on the basis of the facts and the basis of the law and it's consistent with the enforcement priorities that this administration has had.Well, yes, the enforcement priorities that have heavily been pushed for by Hollywood.
The interviewer notes the various screwups in the case, and Holder doesn't bite, saying that there's been good collaboration and they expect everything to turn out fine in the end. The next question is about how serious Holder is about pursuing extradition, and Holder makes it sound like no big deal:
We have made an extradition request. We have an existing treaty between the US and New Zealand that has been used a great many times throughout the years. And I don't see how any individual would not be subject to that treaty.Uh.... that's a bullshit answer. Because the problem with the extradition issue is not whether or not Dotcom is subject to it, but whether or not the issues in the case are subject to it. The DOJ had to bolt on some questionable conspiracy claims to make this work, since mere copyright infringement is not an extraditable offense. Holder also responded to a question about New Zealand's attempt to spy more on citizens and residents by saying he doesn't see how that violates civil liberties. When questioned on that, he throws out some random statement about cooperation to stop terrorism, and again says that spying on people doesn't need to violate civil liberties.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Mar 1st 2013 9:47am
from the it's-going-to-happen-eventually dept
In its judgment, the Court of Appeal says extradition hearings are not criminal trials and that the judge deciding whether to order extradition has only to be satisfied there is a case to answer.Dotcom has made it clear that he's going to appeal this to the Supreme Court, so there's still the possibility of at least one more level of review before this is over. I'm sure there are specific reasons for today's ruling, but I have to admit it does seem odd that you can pull someone out of their home country and take them across an ocean without having to actually prove you have an actual case first. The idea that the US government is doing any of this in "good faith" seems like an assumption that isn't particularly supportable in reality.
The court said the US government had a duty of "candour and good faith" in making an extradition bid, but a summary of the evidence held would suffice.
by Tim Cushing
Thu, Jan 3rd 2013 1:28pm
Music Company Asks For Permission To Pursue Its Delayed Civil Suit Against Megaupload; States Extradition 'May Never Occur'
from the when-even-the-'good-guys'-are-getting-sick-of-the-endless-delays... dept
Microhits, one of two copyright holders who filed civil suits against Megaupload two months after after the FBI raid on Dotcom's home, has just requested it be allowed to move forward on its civil lawsuit as it feels the DOJ's case is taking too long to proceed.
Microhits has asked the United States courts to stop delaying its case against Megaupload until the extradition issue is resolved - because it might never happen.Microhits, whose catalog includes Christina Aguilera, Rod Stewart, Marvin Gaye and Dr. Dre, had its original filing put on hold for six months to allow the US to proceed with its case, something the DOJ doesn't seem to be in any hurry to do. Megaupload's legal defense requested these two civil suits be put on hold for a number of reasons, while mentioning the close resemblance between Microhit's filing and the US government's indictment.
New papers filed with the US district court in Virginia say the extradition is "a mere possible future event but indeed an event which may in fact never occur."
In its motion, Megaupload said the civil suit allegations "appear to be copied verbatim" from the indictment filed in January. If the civil suit progressed in parallel with the criminal case, Megaupload's defendants may be forced to assert their Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination but then waive it as part of the civil case, the motion said.As it stands now, extradition hearings won't begin for another 8 months, and Microhit is worried it may never get to directly pursue Megaupload -- and that Megaupload may have its money safely out of reach by the time it gets the green light.
"This would be an unfair burden on their constitutional rights," the document contends.
Further, Megaupload argued it is broke, as its assets were frozen in January. The company has been asking the U.S. government to unfreeze some funds in order to pay for the preservation of upwards of 28 petabytes of data stored on the service and needed for the legal cases.
Microhits also pointed to the potential loss of any damages. They said Mr Dotcom had posted messages on his Twitter account in which he wrote about his new Mega business. In the posts, Microhits said he had "openly avowed to move their assets and operations out of reach of the United States".Megaupload's lawyers fired back, stating that its assets weren't even under Dotcom's control at this point.
They said the US Government had seized the assets and were "doling out limited amounts for living expenses and foreign counsel".
"Defendants' assets are still sequestered and no amount of tweets and blog-posts will 'un-freeze them' - that requires a court order."
Mr Dotcom's team said facing the civil action would be difficult because of no access to seized funds, seizure of books and records and no access to the former Megaupload servers. The FBI has copied parts of the servers and wanted to delete the rest.So, even if Microhits receives the go-ahead, its options are greatly restricted by the DOJ's previous actions against Megaupload. Microhits does have a point, though -- this case has dragged on far too long with very little progress being made by the prosecution. At this point, it almost looks as though the DOJ has settled in for a war of attrition -- one that will slowly bleed Dotcom, keeping his assets frozen, his business closed and any evidence contained on Megaupload's servers in the control of people who can't seem to decide whether to keep it or destroy it.
The longer this drags on, the less likely it seems that the DOJ has a strong case. But, as has been demonstrated by other site seizures, it really doesn't seem to matter whether there's a winnable case behind the shutdowns. Entities like the DOJ and FBI that are more than willing to seize first and ask questions later are probably not the kind that will step aside and let a civil suit take precedence. Microhits is going to find itself empathizing with Megaupload, as delay after delay push any sort of resolution back across the horizon.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Nov 28th 2012 9:32am
from the sad-that-it-had-to-come-to-this,-but-good-that-it's-over dept
The O'Dwyer case continued to get plenty of attention, with widespread protests in the UK, especially after UK officials approved his extradition to the US. Now, however, the case will be wrapped up under what's known as "deferred prosecution" in which O'Dwyer will pay a "small sum" and the case will be concluded. You can see why O'Dwyer would do this deal after a year and a half of fighting the extradition. It's also not too surprising that the DOJ would agree to such a deal, given how it ran from other similar cases once it realized that there was competent legal help absolutely decimating its ridiculous legal theories. The DOJ had to realize that it was likely to lose badly even if O'Dwyer was extradited -- so now they get to save face and pretend that O'Dwyer paying a small sum is a form of "victory."
It's good that the case is over and that O'Dwyer can get on with his life, though it's ridiculous that any part of this case ever happened.
Tue, Oct 16th 2012 3:02pm
from the hacker-stay-home dept
UK Home Secretary Theresa May has announced that McKinnon will not be extradited due to mental illness and a fear for his safety. McKinnon reportedly suffers from both depression and Asperger's Syndrome, and experts consulting with May believe that he is a significant suicide risk if extradited.
Mrs May said: "After careful consideration of all of the relevant material I have concluded that Mr McKinnon's extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon's human rights. I have therefore withdrawn the extradition order against Mr McKinnon."
Mrs May also said measures would be taken to enable a UK court to decide whether a person should stand trial in the UK or abroad - a so-called forum bar.This move is immensely significant, as it represents the first time an extradition was blocked by a Home Secretary under the Extradition Act of 2003. As extraditions over alleged computer and IP crimes have come into vogue, with the United States leading the charge, it's a welcome sign that the UK wants to be able to review cases in which their citizens would potentially be carted across the world to face massive prison sentences (or worse). One would hope similar scrutiny would be applied in the case of Richard O'Dwyer, though Theresa May has thus far failed to do so. Instead, she has so far bowed to the will of the United States and MPAA sock puppetry in extraditing him.
To be clear, none of this suggests that McKinnon will not face a trial at home. In fact, according to May, the UK will now decide whether to bring a case against him at home.
She said it was now for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, to decide whether he should face trial in the UK.Where he can be tried without the added threat to his well-being. A foreign national, accused of computer crimes against the United States facing trial in his home country. How refreshing.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Aug 20th 2012 12:35pm
from the epic-failures dept
The plight of Barankov poses a real test of Ecuador’s commitment to human rights. A former Belarusian army captain, Barankov arrived in Quito in 2008 thanks to the Ecuadorian government’s very liberal immigration laws. He then set up a blog denouncing corruption and other crimes allegedly committed under authoritarian ruler Alexander Lukashenko. Ecuador initially granted him refugee status, but after a state visit by Lukashenko to Quito on June 29, he was arrested and is being held in the capital’s infamous, 19th century prison while the top court hears the case on Belarus’ fresh extradition request. If sent there, according to his partner, Maribel Andrade, he will face charges of treason and could be put to death.Furthermore, the report in Time notes that Ecuador has a history of not respecting the basic privacy and human rights of its citizens and journalists:
Indeed, the hospitality that Ecuador extends to Assange is withheld from Ecuadorians who may try to emulate his online whistle-blowing tactics. Since Assange entered the embassy, Ecuador’s government has scrapped the need for a warrant to investigate private Internet Protocol addresses. Additionally, for the second time in 18 months, on July 31 government officials and police seized the computers of the newsmagazine Vanguardia, which has been critical of the Correa Administration. The charge: that the publication had violated labor laws. As a result, Vanguardia only managed to go to print this week with the help of donated computers.Kinda makes you wonder if there are any reasonable governments out there.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Aug 20th 2012 9:23am
from the there-is-no-consistency-in-national-politics dept
So it seems positively bizarre that on the very same day that Pussy Riot was sentenced to jail, Russia warned the UK against "violating fundamental diplomatic principles" in its pursuit of Assange to ship him off to Sweden. Honestly, if you had to pick one of those two cases to be sympathetic to, it seems that the Pussy Riot case is a much more clear-cut one of absolutely egregious behavior on the part of a prosecution. For Russia to complain about the treatment of Assange -- on the very day that Pussy Riot was found guilty and sentenced -- seems especially rich.
Both cases may involve significant levels of political tinkering against those who have embarrassed certain governments, but it's also pretty clearly taken away any moral high ground for the countries involved in speaking out against one another.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 16th 2012 3:14am
from the not-going-well dept
In other words, a complete and utter failure by the FBI in this effort.
The full ruling (pdf and embedded below) is quite an interesting read, if you've got the time. Basically, the court agrees with the assertion from the US that an extradition hearing isn't meant to try the full case... but, then points out that this doesn't mean you completely ignore the basic rights of the accused. It is still a criminal case, and as such they have certain basic rights that must be observed -- and which the US was trying to deny to Dotcom. The court considers a variety of case law, including some Canadian extradition cases, and even directly notes that some past cases involved "rubber stamp" approvals of extradition (literally using that term). However, more recent cases have pushed back against that and said that the home court need not try all of the evidence, but should at least look at the evidence to see if it is defective.
The court further notes the fundamental unfairness of the argument made by the US and New Zealand: "severely restrict[ing] the ability of [one party] to file relevant evidence would not easily be characterised as 'fair.'"
The bigger question, then, was whether or not the FBI needed to release its evidence to Dotcom, and again, the Court ruled against the US's position. The Court notes that the law enforcement folks rely on obsolete and outdated caselaw to make their argument, and notes that "I do not find this line of authority particularly persuasive" because they really cover different issues, and (of course) the arguments made appear to be stretched from the original intentions. The judge seems to recognize that the FBI and the Crown are making ridiculous arguments, noting that there is "nothing incompatible" with revealing the evidence in New Zealand and then using it in the US case should extradition be granted.
In my view disclosure should be provided by the requesting state. The Act provides the person sought with a right to challenge whether the threshold for extradition has been met before he will be extradited. Consistent with the requirements of... the Bill of Rights Act to a fair hearing, the person sought should be given access to sufficient information to enable him or her to fully participate in that hearing on an equally informed basis. Without access to materials relevant to the extradition hearing phase, the person sought will be significantly constrained in his or her ability to participate in the hearing and the requesting state will have a significant advantage in terms of access to information.The order lists out what needs to be disclosed, and it's a pretty long list. Basically "all documents" relating to each of the key charges.
Separately, the judge noted that the "Record of Case" document, which the Crown (with the FBI) used to argue for extradition wasn't up to proper legal standards in that it did not provide the necessary info to support extradition.
She also found the "Record of Case", the document which made the argument for extradition, did not currently meet the legal requirements. She said the FBI was under an "obligation of candour" to provide any evidence which could impact on the court's judgment of whether the extradition threshold had been met - and no information had been provided to support FBI claims. The document "did not comply", she said.Basically, this is the final ruling on this issue. The New Zealand government and the FBI can't appeal it any higher and now have to actually let Dotcom and his lawyers see the evidence against him. What a concept.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Aug 6th 2012 12:30pm
from the nice-try-guys dept
TorrentFreak, which lately has been on a streak of finding and publishing leaked info from the legacy entertainment industry, has done it again, publishing the MPAA's talking points document for responding to press inquiries about O'Dwyer, the UK college student that the US government is trying to extradite from the UK for running TVShack.net. They also have the MPAA's plans to find sock puppets to attack O'Dwyer. The two documents are from July 19th, so it's quite recent, and they try to respond to Jimmy Wales' recent involvement in trying to stop the extradition process. As with any good propaganda, the MPAA appears to take comments out of context to twist them against O'Dwyer. For example, it quotes that the site reminded people of how much money they were saving by watching free videos, rather than paying for movies. But nothing in that statement says that the videos they were watching were infringing copies -- just substitutes for going to the theater.
The sock puppet document is the really telling one, in that they admit that that the "overall media coverage has been and will continue to be challenging." Now, when pretty much everyone sides with O'Dwyer and against the MPAA, a normal, sane organization might think that its strategy is (perhaps) a mistake. But the MPAA instead decides to double down by trying to find sock puppets to publish blog posts and editorials about why O'Dwyer is a dirty stinking criminal:
To counter these assertions, the MPAA and its allies need a coordinated effort to focus more on the criminal activity involved in the operation of TVShack and other similar linking sites. Ideally, this would be done through third parties – but finding third parties – especially in the United Kingdom – has been very difficult so far, so the MPAA must be prepared to respond to media requests on the issue and set the record straight to counter the misinformation campaign by our opponents.The thing is, the only "misinformation campaign" is coming from the MPAA itself, with these talking points and "how can we get stooges to spin this" document. The folks supporting O'Dwyer have no such things. They just speak the truth.
Furthermore, the documents completely ignore the legal arguments that make the O'Dwyer case incredibly questionable. They, of course, highlight the recent surfthechannel.com ruling in the UK to support the argument that O'Dwyer was breaking the law in the UK and the US. But that ignores the many questions raised by that ruling, and the fact that multiple similar cases went the other way or that similar US cases also seem to be going the other way too (though, that last one came out after this document was written).
There are also some laughable claims about how the decision to go after O'Dwyer was made by Homeland Security and ICE. However, as documents in other cases have shown, ICE relied heavily on claims from the RIAA and MPAA, despite little evidence to support those claims.
Separately, the MPAA weakly tries to hit back on the claims about internet freedom by saying that "this case isn't about Internet freedom. It's about a man profiting from theft." Funny, he hasn't been charged with "theft" as far as I can tell. It seems that the MPAA has trouble with ever being truthful -- even when claiming its providing facts to counter misinformation. And, as the Posner ruling recently showed, being a third party site that has embeds of infringing videos isn't infringing itself -- so arguing that O'Dwyer is some sort of master criminal is pretty laughable.
Then there's this:
Copyright law is a tool to protect the work of creators and makers, not censorshipThey should try to tell that to some of the many people whom copyright has been used to censor over the years. The fact that copyright was supposed to be a tool to protect creators does not mean it can't be used for censorship. It is, regularly. The two things are hardly mutually exclusive. And, if the MPAA were being honest (ha ha, I know...) it would note that it doesn't represent the interests of creators and makers at all. It represents the studios, who do whatever they can to rip off content creators... while keeping the copyright for themselves. If the MPAA wants to spew bogus "talking points," (and get sock puppets to do so for it) perhaps it should start by figuring out how to defend its regular actions that block artists from getting paid.
In the end, though, this just highlights how incredibly tone deaf the MPAA and its communications staff is to public perception. Attacking Richard O'Dwyer, who has strong public support behind him is not a winning strategy by any means. I'm trying to figure out what the MPAA thinks it's accomplishing here and I'm drawing a blank. The more the MPAA seeks to demonize O'Dwyer, the worse it looks. Even if he is extradited and convicted, all they're doing is creating another hero/martyr, and more people who think the MPAA is an old, out of touch, unwilling-to-adapt monster, locking up college students. At best, I'm thinking the MPAA thinks this will act as an "education campaign" targeted at other sites running forums like O'Dwyer's. But that seems doubtful at best. Similar sites are all over the internet and have been for years. All this effort is doing is helping the MPAA dig its own hole deeper and deeper. It's like a perfect case study in how not to do communications strategy today.