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.