What the US did object to, however, was Dotcom's request to be able to go to a nearby recording studio to complete an album he is supposedly working on. The US seems to question whether this album really exists as well as its likelihood of commercial success. However, the judge notes:
This Court cannot speculate on the success or otherwise of Mr Dotcom’s venture. The numerous varieties of modern musical genres suggest that there are probably unimagined audiences available, and modern legitimate digital distribution systems are changing the face of the music market. I could venture to suggest that notoriety alone could well be a marketing angle for Mr Dotcom’s venture.
In the end, he does allow Dotcom to go to the studio, but with specific requirements, including having to notify officials when he's going there, and only staying for four hours at a time. He has to alert officials when he arrives, at the 2 hour mark, and 5 minutes before he leaves -- and he's supposed to do so with a photo of himself on a smartphone (if he has a smartphone).
The US also objected to allowing the four defendants to meet in person, saying that by allowing them internet access, they could just Skype each other. However, the court agreed with the defendants that Skyping is not the same as actually meeting in person and is allowing that as well (again, in a limited fashion). The court notes that the "flight risk" that the US keeps worrying about appears to be exaggerated, though it's still keeping pretty strict limits on Dotcom and the others, and may revisit the rules in the future.
Of course, I'm still wondering why internet access was banned in the first place. It seems like such an overaggressive ban on something that's so central to the ways in which everyone communicates these days.
Generally speaking, if you're facing criminal charges, it's probably not a wise idea to give public interviews to the press, and I don't see how doing this helps him in any way. He more or less lays out his expected argument concerning the copyright infringement claims, which are pretty much what you'd expect: that they followed the DMCA, took stuff down on request, and even gave copyright holders special access by which they could take links down themselves. Dotcom is clearly very well versed in the legal issues here, and he's choosing his words extremely carefully, but it still seems a bit silly to reveal such arguments outside of court, and it could come back to haunt him later (you can bet US prosecutors are pouring over every word to figure out what they can hang him on.
Also, while the interview focuses on the copyright issues, it avoids the key part of the charges, which is the criminal conspiracy issue. Obviously, those are built off of the copyright claims, but just fighting the copyright claims and ignoring the conspiracy charges is unlikely to be a winning strategy.
One key point he raises in the interview is the fact that, despite being in business for seven years, no MPAA studio ever took any legal action against them other than sending DMCA takedown notices which he claims they obeyed (the indictment suggests that Megaupload didn't necessarily have the greatest record on following takedowns):
JC: CNET, in an article that looked pretty well researched to me and well sourced said, and I quote, “among the copyright owners who’ve accused Megaupload of piracy, including software and video game companies none of them presented the FBI with more, quote, significant evidence, end quote, about Megaupload than the MPAA. Did any members of the MPAA come to you and say “we have concerns, Kim, about what’s going on in Megaupload”.
KD: Never. And I gotta tell you this – if you are a company that is hurt so much by what we are doing, billions of dollars of damage, you don’t wait and sit and do nothing. You call your lawyers and you try and sue us and try to stop us from what we are doing.
JC: So a cease and desist of some form or other. Did you ever receive any letters from members of the MPAA saying “the latest James Bond film is being exchanged, ad infinitum, through Megaupload, you must stop it”? Did you ever receive…
KD: Absolutely not. No legal document has ever reached us from any of these studios. The only thing that we get is Takedown Notices and them using the direct delete access on our website. So, isn’t it surprising to you that when I’m the pirate king and I’m causing all this damage that none of them has ever even attempted to sue us, to sue us for damages, you know? If you would run a business that loses billions of dollars because of me, you wouldn’t just sit there and do nothing. I mean, this investigation was ongoing for over two years, you know, the company was live for over seven years, the MPAA has always thrown names at us and called us all kinds of things but they’ve never actually done anything to you know, take us to court and for the very simple reason that there is a law in the US that protects us which is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that protects online service providers from actions of their users and this is the same law that allowed Google to still exist, that allowed YouTube to still exist. You know that Viacom sued YouTube and YouTube claimed that they were protected by the DMCA and they won. And if you look at the YouTube case files, the emails that were exchanged internally we are a lamb compared to what was going on at YouTube at the time but these guys got away. They won their lawsuit and I’m sitting in jail, my house is being raided, all my assets are frozen without a trial, without a hearing. This is completely insane, is what it is.
Elsewhere he notes that he's an easy target because of his "flamboyant" past, but that, alone isn't illegal. But he also responds to the basic questions pretty clearly, noting that they can't proactively monitor the service, because (1) that's not required by law (2) it's technically impossible and (3) it could raise privacy questions under US law (that part might be a stretch, since the uploads weren't private, but public).
I still think there are serious problems with the lawsuit, but the case against him is a bit bigger than what he portrays in the interview, and he's going to need a much stronger defense if he's going to actually win the case.
Whatever you might think of Kim Dotcom (originally Schmitz), the founder of Megaupload, he at least deserves a fair trial. US officials had worked hard to keep him locked up without bail, but a New Zealand court has finally granted him bail after no one could show him having access to vast funds elsewhere that he could use to make a run for it. Apparently, US officials insisted that he must have those funds, but couldn't produce any evidence, and the court realized that's not a particularly good reason to keep him locked up:
In the North Shore District Court this morning, Justice Nevin Dawson said that after a long time where officials could investigate the Dotcom's potential access to funds - none of significance had been found. Justice Dawson said it was "highly unlikely" that he had other financial resources available to him that had not already been seized.
Prosecution acting for the United States Government had said that because Dotcom was "very wealthy" it was probably he had more bank accounts.
However, Justice Dawson said that put Dotcom in the position of having to "prove a negative" and that assertion was not enough to imply his flight risk.
Four new bank accounts were discovered in the Philippines, but they were empty, he said.
"The suspicion that Mr. Dotcom is very wealthy is not evidence of further assets and cannot be used against him."
I've certainly noticed attempts by many to try Dotcom based on his outward appearance or the fact that he clearly was a show off who flung money around. And I can understand that desire. But, any trial should be based on the actual facts against him, not the fact that he was apparently tacky and a showoff when he spent money. If that, alone, was a crime, then tons of famous musicians, movie stars and athletes deserve the same treatment.
That said, the conditions of bail include no internet usage, which (as we've noted in the past) is pretty ridiculous, since nearly everything touches the internet these days, including popular phone systems. It seems perfectly reasonable to say that he can't have anything to do with cyberlockers or Megaupload or such, but a complete internet ban seems extreme.
Rikuo: to be more accurate, he was named in the comments, not the video itself dennis deems: Jay, thanks for that reminder Christopher Best: Andrew Stack was not a member of the Tea Party movement. He was a disturbed individual, and a disgruntled software developer. There's explicit tax law that treats software developers very unfairly if they try to work as independent contractors... yaga: that's very true CB Alana: AJ Seriously just compared arguments against copyright infringment to rape. ... Yeah, nobody should take him seriously at this point. err, against copyright* silverscarcat: seriously? Jay: Glenn Beck asking for a 9/12 movement isn't the least bit suspicious? Along with all of the other issues with the IRS right now? Ninja: I am honestly amused that the community is marking the comments of that "horse" guy as funny silverscarcat: Who takes Glenn Beck seriously? Jeff: did the 'new' comment color bars go away? dennis deems: ya I hadn't noticed until you said that. I don't recall seeing them the last couple days. Mike Masnick: new color bars ran into some big technical problems. :) we took them down while we fix them. fix is currently going through testing and should be back (and better than before) soon. dennis deems: yay! the color bars rule! Jeff: whew! Thought I was going... wait for it... "Color Blind" thanks! I'll be here all day... :-) Jay: @ssc I'm talking more in 2011 at the peak of TP hysteria TheResidentSkeptic: @mike - mod for your business model - CwF+RtB+DoP..too many miss the "Deliver On Promises"