Megaupload Farce Stirring Up Backlash Against Copyright Overreach

from the too-much-to-hope? dept

Just when you think the Megaupload farce can’t get any more ridiculous, it does. Following revelations that New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau illegally intercepted communications in the Megaupload case and provided those details to law enforcement authorities, the country’s Prime Minister has been forced to apologize personally to Kim Dotcom: “Of course I apologize to Mr Dotcom, and I apologize to New Zealanders.” From his position of increasing strength as more and more missteps by the New Zealand authorities come to light, Dotcom graciously accepted those apologies.

But the political fall-out is continuing. An article in the New Zealand Herald does a good job rounding up the country’s deepening frustration over the way the New Zealand government carried out this botched operation, and at the behest of others:

If provincial newspaper editorials are anything to go by, there is growing anger about the authorities’ handling of Kim Dotcom. The Waikato Times’ editorial entitled, NZ: 51st state of the US, is particularly worth reading. It says that the announcement of the illegal spying has ‘heightened suspicions that this country’s relationship with the United States has become one of servility rather than friendship’. The editorial’s conclusion is worth quoting at length: ‘Dotcom is wanted in the US to face nothing more threatening than breaches of copyright laws.

That last point is new, and important: it means that people outside the world of digital activism are beginning to realize that the underlying reason this series of extraordinary blunders and abuses has come about is because enforcing copyright — and making an example of those alleged to have infringed on copyright — has been placed above concerns about an individual’s rights, or even the law.

Some are rightly beginning to question whether the price being paid by society in terms of loss of fundamental rights is simply too high for the very limited gains by the media companies as a result of these actions. In a new post on his blog, James Firth explores this theme, and makes a bold claim:

This surely is a watershed moment when even the most ardent securocrats wake up and realise such abuses help no-one. Without public trust in the security apparatus we can never feel free, even if we are.

It would certainly be good news if that were the case, but it remains to be seen how many do in fact wake up — and whether the grip of the copyright industries on both the legislative and executive branches around the world is loosened as a result.

Another question is whether in the wake of the public outrage over the New Zealand government’s supine behavior in the Megaupload case, the latter might start asserting its sovereignty a little more by standing up to the US in the current TPP negotiations, and refusing to submit over things like software patents. It now looks increasingly likely that they will be introduced into New Zealand, and the suspicion has to be that this is partly as a result of continuing US pressure. Saying “no” to software patents would allow the New Zealand government to point to an area where it has defended the country’s interests despite demands from elsewhere.

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Comments on “Megaupload Farce Stirring Up Backlash Against Copyright Overreach”

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Zakida Paul says:

The only one who has come out of this in any positive light is Kim Dotcom. The farce of the whole case has pushed pushed public opinion in his favour, which is the opposite of what the entertainment industries and governments wanted.

The NZ government look like America’s bitch bowing to pressure from foreign governments.

The US government’s reputation as the world bully has been solidified in their eagerness to do anything to appease big business.

The entertainment industries look even more like petulant children whining about big bad technology.

The various law enforcement agencies look like incompetent fools who can’t organise a proper legal investigation.

RonKaminsky says:

Re: Re:

>The only one who has come out of this in any positive light is Kim Dotcom.

I’m just waiting for the US military to classify him as “an enemy of the United States”. After all, we all know he’s an enemy agent trying to undermine the solvency of the entertainment industry, without which the US economy would totally collapse…

(Oh, if only I could whole-heartedly add a tag…)

Ken Martin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Kimbo!!

Kim Dotcom may be about to poop in his own nest. This is an extract from an English UK source.

Kim Dotcom to start ad-jacking?

27 September 2012

Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Kim Dotcom has certainly shaken up the world.

If he’s not pissing off movie and music moguls with his drop-box services, he’s exposing the skulduggery and incompetence of NZ’s politicians, along with its intelligence and police services.

So far, Kim has been blessed with the support of the mainstream media, a factor that can not be overestimated in its importance. If you have the media on your side, you have the majority of public opinion on your side.

That’s because, like it or not, the media does a wonderful job of shaping that public opinion and most people are slaves to what they read, hear or watch through that media.

So far Kim’s done a splendid job of leveraging the medium to his advantage — but I fear he’s about to make a fatal error that could have nasty repercussions.

According to reports published today, Dotcom is preparing to launch a new service called “Megabox”.

Unfortunately, Computerworld seems to have gotten it wrong in this story when they assume that Dotcom’s use of the word “Mega” means a re-release of MegaUpload.

So what will Megabox do and how will it earn money for Kimbo?

Well it’s a music download service that Dotcom hopes will earn him lots of money via two revenue streams.

The first and most conventional revenue stream is to simply ask people to pay for the music they wish to download — and that’s an option with Megabox.

However, if this was all that was offered, Megabox would be little more than an “also ran” and, in a market that’s already loaded with such sites, would be unlikely to prosper or even survive.

Kimbo knows that in order to really make a go of this new venture, he has to offer something different, new, innovative and attractive to the market — and that’s what he’s attempting with the second option. This involves downloading a piece of software he calls “Megakey” which runs quietly in the background — watching your internet traffic until it sees something that looks like an advertisement being loaded by a webpage.

According to the information thus far reported, every now and then (about 15% of the time), Megakey will intercept advertising destined to your webpages and replace it with its own ads. In effect, Megakey is ad-jacking software.

Cunning, clever, probably profitable — but ethical or even legal?

It’s claimed that this ad-jacking is really no different to ad-blocking software since it stops the display of advertisements that would normally appear on webpages. The difference is just that it replaces some of those ads with ones that earn Kimbo some money.

Now this is where Kimbo is taking a big, big risk.

Right now, the mainstream media is struggling to make money from their online presence and advertising is one of the few sources of revenue. If Dotcom starts pinching money from *their* pockets through his ad-jacking software, they will not be pleased and, as I mentioned earlier, they have the power to swing public opinion.

Right now, Kimbo is the David to the FBI’s Goliath – but if he pisses the media off by stealing the money from their very pockets, I can see this changing very, very quickly.

The very media that is his biggest ally in this battle will almost certainly do a 180 and he’ll find that he then becomes portrayed as a criminal who steals from legitimate businesses to fund his lifestyle of excess and luxury.

No matter what the Feds, the NZ government nor the Police do wrong, the media will ignore it and instead, focus on getting Kimbo and his revenue-leaching Megakey software out of their hair.

If Kim is reading this — I would simply say that you are playing with fire and you run a very real risk of getting burnt if you piss off the very people who are supporting you and shaping public opinion in your favour.

Until now, Kim has played a very clever game but I fear that with the announcement of Megabox and its ad-jacking option, he’s really screwed up.

Blocking ads is one thing, leveraging other people’s hard work for your own profits — that’s probably going to cause you a world of pain — just as it did with MegaUpload.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

they haven’t seen anything yet just wait for megabox

kim’s new program that uses injection to replace 15% of webpage ads with kim’s and gives a large portion of that to artists

Meh. Sick of all the hype about complete and utter vaporware.

Furthermore, kind of amazed at how many people are all excited about this… but freak out about any other ad injection tools out there. Ad injection is really questionable.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

But what else besides ad injection is the Megabox software going to do to with your system once it is installed? It could be sending anything back including keylogs and passwords. That is true of any software you install; it is always a matter of trusting the company that is providing the software not to do anything beyond what they say they will do. It is unlikely that I would install anything from a Dotcom-run company, especially if I was in the United States.

Of course, he could make it open source. That would raise the trust level a bit. In fact, he could release an API and let third-party clients connect with Megabox. That would bump up the trust factor a bit more if I was running software that I could trust to not send out unauthorized information. Megabox would still be raking in the cash because people would have to connect to his server and that is the place where the income is really generated.

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

There’s no need to look, they are seemingly content to act in a way that may be damaging to the ad views of other sites. The only reason to replace 15% rather than add 15% is that it’s 1) easier 2) will minimise the noticeable impact of doing it so in the hopes of getting higher adoption. The ethics of it are deeply questionable as is even with out anything else. Which actually means I’m not going to be surprised if something else is found.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s not vaporware. Kim Dotcom did bring it to market, but ICE took it down, just like all his other site. In fact, I tried it out before it got shutdown. An as for the “ad injection” thing, used have use (but can’t get free downloads without it) and most people are more comfortable then they are other ad replacers because it consensual and come from Megaupload ratter then shady no-name organizations.

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I was excited about this while I was under a false impression of how it was going to work. As it is I have issues with them replacing other peoples ads. If they want to go down this root why not an browser extension that adds a small tool bar with ads in it? I’ve got no issue with the idea of adding extra adds to my browsing to help support artists I’m listening to I guess but, injection? it’s seems to be an move designed to minimise impact with a few to increasing adoption but likely at the expense of other people.

What I thought was going to happen was a effectively a spotify/myspace/bandcamp mix. You can stream music from the site or an application that comes with ads that can be removed for a small subscription and the artist would get paid based on number of plays. It wouldn’t be much but it would be something. Then the site could be used as to sell downloads to the fans.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You have to understand that Kim has no problems making a living off of others people’s work – so why would he have a problem hijacking the ad spaces in someone else’s site?

It shows a general lack of respect for everyone except himself, and any artist stupid enough to team up with him is in for a royal reaming at some point.

Kim has no interest in music, he has an interest in Kim. He’s not in this for a noble goal, he’s in it so he can maintain his high living lifestyle and so he can thumb his nose at the law at every turn.

Supporting him is on par with the “snitches get stitches” mentality. It’s self-defeating and stupid, and only helps someone else.

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’ve always hated the guy, I feel sorry for him given the US is trying to do but this move with megabox is going to cause a lot more harm than good.

Dotcom is in a place that other music start ups would kill to be and could with megabox has a chance to use the publicity and interest to gain traction for any number of new models. Instead we are going to get what is going to be, well, a clusterfuck frankly, that is going to undermine other music start ups and tar the idea of new models for music with “but he had to steal ad view from other sites to afford it, music then can’t be free!” stupid but since when do we expect the copyright lobby to be anything but?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Oh, Please Spare Me the Hype

You have to understand that Kim has no problems making a living off of others people’s work

So you’re saying that he’s just doing what the rest of the Nocopytainement Industry does (i.e., living off other peoples’ work [FTFY – the grammar was very poor]).

Are you seriously trying to suggest that Nocopytainement Industry has a problem living off other peoples’ work themselves ? So, exactly who is allowed to live off other peoples’ work and who is not?

I’ll bet the rest of the Nocopytainement Industry is just jealous that Kim “called dibs” on his chosen mechanism (which has always failed in other realms and, as I currently understand things, sounds doomed to fail in this realm for mostly technical reasons), before they could.

ECA (profile) says:

I dont know how many of you understand HOW

How this could happen.
HOW does the USA have enough power to FORCE TPP onto other nations.
we have these strange trade agreements…What happens is that we GIVE FOOD to nations for THEIR FOODS. Under this trade we POUND TONS of Corn and wheat products to nations with other foods we want. Its not an equal trade.
NOW that we have all these folks HOOKED on abundant products..(yes the USA ships out 80%+ of out corn and wheat)
What would happen to those nations if we Withdrew the food?
MOSt of those nations could NOT supply the food needed by their people.
That is why these are going into TRADE agreements.

For this type of idea lookup Food as a weapon, there are a FEW sites that do have good info, and most are idiots.

What gets my goat, tends to be the CONTROL that corps are using in this world.
AND since most are dealing from OVER SEAS, insted of the USA..why not MOVE THERE…could it be easier to SAVE/HIDE TAXES HERE??

Beech says:

Clearly Apologism

It is increasingly clear that all Kiwi’s are naught buy dirty filthy pirate apologists. Oh sure, they try to cover it up by complaining about “due process” and “basic human rights,” but all they really want is free stuff. I say it would be a totally reasonable response for us to add New Zealand to the Special 301 list, then fire some nukes off at them. That will show them to pretend they have their own rules and laws!

KenMartin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Clearly Apologism

As a Kiwi, I love to watch C+W music videos on YouTube. I cannot buy them, though!

Ex Senator Dodd and his hairy numnuts Hollywood mogul mates are like dinosaurs sitting in a pond whining about the incoming meteor. They ought to provide what consumers want, at a reasonable price, instead of trying to shore up an outdated marketing model by pressuring the American government to insert repressive clauses in secret TPP discussions. The American government should stop bullying those they disagree with.

Anonymous Coward says:

I knew this will eventually happen, and we’ll see more of this. RIAA and MPAA and the Obama administration think that the more they push and force this issue on other countries, the more success they’ll have, but the exact opposite will happen. People will start waking up to the abuses of the current copyright system and will demand reforms, which will make the situation even worse for RIAA and MPAA (from their point of view).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“RIAA and MPAA and the Obama administration think that the more they push and force this issue on other countries…”

Actually, boy it was Republican congressmen who’ve been pushing this ENFORCE OR ELSE crap.
Republican congressmen have also stopped us from having a balanced budget and healthcare for the poor.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

not that the democrats, as a whole, fight back that hard. they benefit from this stuff too ­čśŤ

your entire political spectrum is varying degrees of corrupt, and noticeably right-shifted. making it party based is mostly just showing an inability to think.

and feeling the need to talk down to people who disagree with you just shows you’re an arse.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

only in that someone without money would have folded a lot earlier due to running out of resources and/or not caught the media’s attention as quickly.

and even then only because the odd bit of legal weirdness that lead to Dotcom becoming a resident in the first place was questionable (not his actions, but the actions of those that made it an option in the first place). the police raid would have made the news anyway.


yeah. someone without money probably would have got off too if they were willing to fight it that long and got the same judges.

heck, the simple fact that it’s the US government pulling the strings on the other side would have meant that it got a lot of the same reactions.

only difference is that, as he has money, he has had contact with a lot of upper level types who have also screwed up and are being dragged through the mud too, where as otherwise they would have been separate things and not caused quite such major scandal and upset…

‘course, if he hadn’t had money this wouldn’t have come up in the first place. wouldn’t be a high enough profile target, probably.

but yeah, no money = government funding for defence and less immediate media attention. so long as he was willing to fight it, that’s about it.

Chargone (profile) says:

Unfortunately, the current government are US puppets.

sadly, if the media is anything to go by, while the Dotcom case is big news, the TPP is barely even a blip on the public’s radar.

also, given the current government, it doesn’t matter What the public wants, TPP and other such stupidity will go through. under any other government (except maybe ACT, i guess, if they somehow managed to form one by themselves) this sort of nonsense might have lead to some changes… (heck, a lot of the smaller parties would have been fighting against US influence from the start. Nationalism (for want of a better term to use in opposition to globalism and/or foreign imperialism, economic or otherwise (we Might accept a re-consolidation of the commonwealth. any other such manoeuvres get bad reactions. see the recent uproar over selling farms to Chinese interests)) is/was becoming a major plank in the platforms of… well, everyone but national, though how much so varied (not their positions on it, but how willing they are to compromise those positions in favour of other stuff))

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

unfortunately, given who our current PM is, that’ll probably happen too as soon as possible (he’s done it before).

master of saying one thing and doing another (the current lot don’t even bother using interesting spin and propaganda. they just claim one thing, do another, then pretend no one told them about it while passing laws to cover their arses.)

bshock (profile) says:

Five bucks and graciousness will get you a coffee

Obviously Dotcom’s acceptance of the New Zealand PM’s apology was not gracious, but then (a) when someone has totally screwed you over, you don’t owe him a kiss on the ass, and (b)kissing the ass of people who want to stomp you like a bug isn’t likely to accomplish anything beyond making you look like a particularly squishable bug.

Sure, Dotcom is pushing his luck with every move he makes, but what the hell? If the U.S. wants him, it will have him. If that clown Biden wants to make an offering to his pals in Hollywood of Dotcom’s head on a pike, this is going to happen regardless of whether Dotcom bows, scrapes, cries, begs, or acts like the most innocent creature in the universe.

Dotcom probably sees no point in trying to making his situation better because he can’t — he’s already been indicted, convicted, and sentenced in absentia, and we’re just waiting to see how much time will pass before the FBI drags his hefty ass to prison.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Five bucks and graciousness will get you a coffee

Depends on what kind of ‘example’ they’re trying to make out of him.

If it’s simply a matter of ‘break the law and we will go after you’ the response is going to be limited to, you know, actual legal actions.

If however, in a case like this the example they’re trying to send is ‘if we want to crush your business, throw you in jail, and seize all your assets for interfering/competing with us, we can do it, no matter where you live, and no matter what laws may stand in the way’, then you get this whole thing, with the swat teams, hidden and/or illegal evidence, and the rest of the circus.

Anonymous Coward says:

really, the rest of the world should just tell the US to fuck right off. the only interest here is to ensure the continued dominance of the USA and it’s industries. if it is so worried that things are happening to it’s home produced movies, music etc in other countries, that it doesn’t like, keep it all in the US. problem solved. i doubt if there would be too many tears lost if a Hollywood movie wasn’t available in Aus. after all, they have to wait months to get it anyway.

Satan says:

All involved were crooked

Everyone involved with this, from the Prime Minister John Key, to Detective Inspector Grant Wormald and the GCSB, are the people New Zealanders should be worried about. These people have broken the law numerous times, lied in court, refuse to disclose information and colluded with a foreign spy agency against a NZ resident. I expect nothing more than a full investigation by the government and subsequent laying of charges against those involved in breaking NZ law.

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