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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Filed Under: backlash, copyright, kim dotcom, new zealand
Companies: megaupload


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  1. identicon
    Ken Martin, 30 Sep 2012 @ 4:07am

    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.

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