Four New Zealanders Arrested In Auckland On Charges Of Copyright Infringement and Money Laundering.
January 20th 2012: This post contains thoughts about two issues which are related: One – the proposed extension of anti-piracy laws on the part of the American government. These bills are called SOPA and PIPA, – SOPA standing for ‘Stop On Line Piracy Act’, PIPA – ‘Protect IP Act’ – and Two – the arrests this week, in Auckland, New Zealand, of the MegaUpload.com king-pins. These arrests were made by New Zealand police acting for the FBI. It is alarming that MegaUpload.com has been taken down by the American authorities, and the bosses arrested, even before SOPA/PIPA have become law, AND before a fair trial of Kim.com and his colleagues. The MegaUpload bosses are currently sitting in an Auckland jail, awaiting extradition to America, where they will be tried for breach of anti-piracy laws.
The FBI website has been sabotaged by Anonymous.com, in protest of the proposed extension to anti-piracy laws, currently being debated by the US Senate.
BBC reported tonight, 21st January, 2012, 3 am, that visitors to the file-sharing site MegaUpload.com accounts for something like 10% of all world-wide internet use. There are roughly 50 million page impressions per day made on MegaUpload.com. This is just massive, and it is no wonder that the founders of the site have become extremely wealthy. However, their extreme wealth has come to the attention of the FBI, it seems, who have been pressured by Hollywood movie and music giants to have MegaUpload.com shut down on charges of on-line piracy. Hollywood movie giants reckon they have lost something like 500 million dollars because of people down-loading movies and music files without paying for them. But Hollywood giants are behaving a bit like Kodak – they are not keeping up with the play – not moving ahead with technology. Many people believe that, just as you can’t stop the digital movement in photographic technology, you cannot stop people sharing files of movies, music, and information on-line. Which would make this whole MegaUpload debacle a bit pointless in the long term. Meanwhile, there are some very worrying issues to consider, and fight for:……..
Only days ago, we were ‘all ears’ to hear the outcome of the US Government’s attempts to extend their powers to on-line piracy. Lovers of free speech and free material on the internet all over the world were on edge, hoping that nothing would change. The worry is that if the American government has the power to shut down sites if they suspect breach of copyright, then the next thing will be to control the content of sites, which would amount to censorwhip. And if they succeed in gaining control over internet material, then there goes democracy and the power of free speech – The American government will be no better than the Chinese government and other repressive governments who censor material on the web.
Internet Protest: The internet giant Wikipedia shut down its site for twenty four hours yesterday, the 20th January 2012, NZ time, in protest of the government’s intended new piracy legislation. Several other big sites apparently followed Wikipedia’s example, to protest the legislation. A Wikipedia spokesman said on BBC yesterday, 20th January 2012 NZ time, that Wiklipedia would not be able to function if the American government succeeded in their plan to moniter material on the internet, and the down-loading of movies and music. They could not function, he said, because if any one of their articles had a link to a site which gave away free files, then the whole of Wikipedia would have to come down – not just the pages in question. So this proposed new law would wreck an otherwise useful and legal site.
The question should really be whether a site is ‘dedicated to infringement activity’, says one commentator on BBC broadcast to NZ through the night. This is what the American judge should have worked out before authorities pulled off the entire content of the Megaupload.com. It has not yet been proven whether or not its founders are guilty of the alleged crime. So – innocent until proven guilty should be the maxim.
The timing of these arrests is interesting – the same week as the proposed extension of internet anti-piracy laws. The incident of the Megaupload arrests and enforced crashing of the site is obviously meant to set a new precedent which illustrates the power and might of the US government, and its intentions to instill their will and way of thinking upon American people and the rest of the world.
Another commentator on BBC has just said that the American Government has simply exercised its existing powers in having New Zealand police arrest the four Metaupload bosses on suspicion of copyright breaches and money laundering charges. Why wait until right now to arrest these people. And is the action of NZ police, under instruction by FBI officials, completely legal? There is some question about the Megaupload arrests in NZ, the seizing of their assets, and the shutting down of their web-site. Have the rights of the Megaupload.com founders been abused?
The Mega upload arrests have similarities to the arrest of Julian Assange. Julian Assange of Wikileaks was arrested on what was a trumped-up charge, the instigators being the FBI and/or CIA who wanted Julian Assange behind bars, rather than being free to tell the world about the crimes of the military, and other government failings. This is an example of website censorship in action, with two men, Julian Assange, and Seargent Manning, having been jailed and silenced for divulging American war crimes on the internet.
The maxim “Innocent until proven guilty” is not being applied, and we have what looks to be a ‘trial by media’ in process. For a start, the Mega upload men have not been tried, yet our New Zealand television gave a damning report on the Megaupload.com founders. We were shown the arrested men in several different situations, including one shot of the four all lined up in court. We were given photos of some of their expensive cars, and other goods, being confiscated. We were given unrelated video footage of the leader, Kim.com, driving a vehicle over a golf course, and laughing about the absurdity of the situation. This was unnecessary footage to show on national television at news time. It was chosen deliberately to portray Magaupload bosses as being irresponsible, wasteful and flambuoyant people, to persuade the public that these men deserve to be punished. Because the FBI are behind it, the NZ media are backing them all the way. The media have assumed a guilty verdict without a trial, and portrayed the situation accordingly.
Update 25th January, 2012: Television ‘Campbell Live’ is attempting to give impartial coverage on the issue of the arrests of MegaUpload.com bosses and the enforced closure of their web-site. The judge is reported as saying, TVNZ3 25th January, 2012, on the Campbell Live show, that he cannot see the FBI as having any strong evidence to support a case against Mr Kim.com. Thankyou John Campbell for bringing the relevant and important details to light on national television.
The media’s stance so far would seem to be in support of the FBI instigating the New Zealand arrest of the men, the closing of their website, and the seizing of their assets – $10 million from bank accounts, $6 million worth of expensive cars – as if they are guilty simply because they have expensive assets. But Megaupload accounts for 10% of all internet traffic – so you would expect them to be wealthy. These are financially successful masters of the web. Just because they are wealthy does not mean that they are crooks.
Google and Twitter are powerful companies who sometimes inadvertantly find themselves in breach of copyright laws, yet the American government does not shut down their whole operations, as they have done with MegaUpload.
Hackers have attacked the FBI website in protest of the arrest of Megaupload founders, and the destruction of their website.
The shutting down of Magaupload.com, and the arrest of its founders, sets a precedent for repressive regimes around the world to control and censor the internet.
21 st January 2012 – Today is the birthday of Kim.com. He turned 38 today. TV news NZ has just given us a bit more on MegaUpload and the arrest of the four founders: Apparently police waited for the birthday party to begin before making arrests, so that they could catch the visitors at Kim.com’s mansion, who had flown in for the event. Rotten, eh? The good news on TV news tonight is that MegaUpload is going to hire Bill Clinton’s lawyer Robert Bennet, to fight for the re-opening of MegaUpload.com. God willing, may you succeed.