Filed under: Announcements & Events, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services
Signed and written by Kim Dotcom, the 48-pages long white paper is breaking the Megaupload case into small pieces. Let’s take a quick look at the highlight features of his statement.
“The United States vs. You (and Kim Dotcom)” is Kim’s story on how the United States chose to seize his business (Megaupload). What happened “represents one of the clearest examples of prosecutorial overreach in recent history,” the document explains.
The white paper goes on to remind about the failure of SOPA, and how the US government chose Megaupload as a target. It reminds the reader about a legal precedent, when, on April the 18th 2013, a court ruled that YouTube is not responsible for what its users upload (as long as the company can prove that it was not unaware of the infringement). The same clemency could have been given to Megaupload, but did that happen? As we all know, it didn’t.
Citing Professor Goldman, we find that:
[T]he government’s prosecution of Megaupload demonstrates the implications of the government acting as a proxy for private commercial interests. The government is using its enforcement powers to accomplish what most copyright owners haven’t been willing to do in civil court (i.e., sue Megaupload for infringement); and the government is doing so by using its incredibly powerful discovery and enforcement tools that vastly exceed the tools available in civil enforcement; and the government’s bringing the prosecution in part because of the revolving door between government and the content industry (where some of the decision-makers green-lighting the enforcement action probably worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the copyright owners making the request) plus the Obama administration’s desire to curry continued favor and campaign contributions from well-heeled sources.
This is where Kim made a terrible mistake, that of collaborating with US authorities in another case (read more here). Meanwhile, US investigators were gathering incriminating data on Megaupload, ultimately leading to the questionable seizure of the domain.
Kim’s white document is full of interesting details about the whole fiasco, suggesting some pretty wild ideas (including that of being a scapegoat) about why Megaupload was targeted and not Rapidshare instead.
“The United States Vs. You” also reminds us about Aaron Swartz, a young and brilliant mind who took his own life.
“The unfortunate case of Aaron Swartz also comes to mind. Swartz was a young internet entrepreneur – founder of Infogami and co-founder of Reddit and RSS co- developer – an activist for government reform, digital rights and civil liberties, and a vocal opponent of SOPA. He was indicted in 2011 for allegedly attaching a laptop to MIT’s computer network and downloading a large number of articles from an archive of academic journals. The prosecution alleged that Swartz intended to make the papers available on P2P file-sharing sites,” Kim’s paper reads.
Tragically, Aaron Swartz killed himself on January 11, 2013, about two weeks before a significant evidence suppression hearing in his legal case. Shortly after Swartz’s death, his attorney sent a letter to the Office of Professional Responsibility of the U.S. Department of Justice, requesting an inquiry into the conduct of the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann. According to Swartz’s lawyer:. . . AUSA Heymann appears to have failed timely to disclose exculpatory evidence relevant to Mr. Swartz’s pending motion to suppress. Indeed, evidence suggests AUSA Heymann may have misrepresented to the Court the extent of the federal government’s involvement in the investigation into Mr. Swartz’s conduct prior to the application for certain search warrants.Second, AUSA Heymann appears to have abused his discretion when he attempted to coerce Mr. Swartz into foregoing his right to a trial by pleading guilty. Specifically, AUSA Heymann offered Mr. Swartz four to six months in prison for a guilty plea, while threatening to seek over seven years in prison if Mr. Swartz chose to go to trial.
Read it in full here.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services
A recent report shows that New Zealand’s GCSB had illegally spied on more than eighty people, and not just on the former head of Megaupload.
In a previous article we’ve mentioned how New Zealand’s intelligence agency (the Government Communications Security Bureau or GCSB) had illegally spied on Kim Dotcom and his partners, prior to the events that led to the closing of Megaupload.
Soon after these allegations proved to be accurate, an investigation was opened to establish whether the agency’s illegal actions were limited to just Kim and his associates. The published results unfortunately showed that over 80 people were unlawfully spied on by the agency; even more worrying is that John Key, the country’s Prime Minister, is suspected to have known about these irregularities since he’s a close friend to GCSB’s head Ian Fletcher.
To distance himself from these allegations, John Key has put on the shocked face, saying that he was not aware of GCSB’s actions, and that he’s determined to find the people who are to blame for doing so. New Zealand’s Prime Minister also promised to reform the intelligence agency and to continue with the investigation. However, opposite parties are now requesting independent reports, just to be sure that no conflicts of interest will stain the results.
In a recent tweet, Kim had asked for an official apology.
The only one to act on this request was John Key; he’s also promised to take legal action against the GCSB and police forces, for the role they’ve played on Kim’s nightmare.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services, Legal P2P News & Issues
Prior to last year’s raid, the New Zealand government, in collaboration with US authorities, spied on Kim Dotcom to build a case that eventually led to Megaupload’s downfall. The German entrepreneur accused both sides of having him unconstitutionally spied on, and now documents to clarify that claim have been released.
The following scans are statements given by various parties involved in the Megaupload case. You can either see them on Scoop.co.nz or by clicking on the direct links below:
GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau) Affidavits:
Kim Dotcom Affidavits:
Grant Wormald of OFCANZ (Organised and Finanical Crime Agency of NZ):
Affidavit of Wormald Part 1
Affidavit of Wormald Part 2
Affidavit of Wormald Part 3
Affidavit of Wormald Part 4
Affidavit of Wormald Part 5
Affidavit of Wormald Part 6
Affidavit of Wormald Part 7
Affidavit of Wormald final
While we’re confident that parts of these documents are going to be the catalyst of some heated debates, a statement by police officer Grant Wormald reveals that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been communicating with his constabulary starting with September 2011. The purpose was for the bureau to determine if police officers are ready to place Kim Dotcom, along with his “accomplices”, under arrest.
Furthermore, officer Wormald’s statement shows that the bureau took over the investigation soon after this encounter.
To secure the arrest’s legitimacy, GCSB was asked to play along. However, on the 21st February 2012 the GCSB acknowledged that Kim’s detainment may have been unlawful due to his and Van der Kolk’s residency status.
If this is proved beyond any doubt to be true, Kim could slip US’ desire to extradite him.
Being unable to personally attend the SXSW, Kim Dotcom made a virtual appearance at the festival via Skype, where he expressed his thoughts about US’ efforts to extradite him, and other issues involving the entertainment industry.
As you may know by now, Megaupload’s head is forbidden to leave New Zealand. In addition, Kim is also waiting for his extradition verdict. If he’s to be shipped to the US, the German entrepreneur could face a long jail sentence (20 years?) on grounds of copyright infringement, racketeering, and money laundering.
“I will never be in a prison in the U.S. I can guarantee you that,” he said.
Though it is true that Megaupload was (occasionally) used to infringe copyrighted content, Dotcom insists that his business was more than just a pirate haven. He also pointed to the fact that Megaupload had 220 employees, a possible IPO valuation of more than 2 billion dollars, and an impressive database of customers, including the Brazilian government.
Furthermore, Dotcom claims that just 10% of Megaupload’s users were from the U.S., and that ”of all the files uploaded to Megaupload, half had never been downloaded, not once. That shows people were using it for storage more than anything else.”
What’s more important is the fact that Dotcom disclosed the fact that local police officers spied on him without a warrant. A hearing in April will establish whether these methods were legal or not.
“…there will be some interesting leaks to come out. We will show that the Prime Minister lied in Parliament. I’m looking forward to that hearing,” Dotcom said.
Kim is also eager for the August hearing. According to him, police and officials from New Zealand and the U.S. have shown unethical behavior.
“The White House supported SOPA. It was a gift to Hollywood from the president for giving him so much campaign money to get re-elected,” he said.
“They gave Chris Dodd $2 million to go after us.”
“This is really a civil case,” he continued, speaking of the Megaupload debacle.
“They should have taken us to court. There is no criminal statute for secondary copyright infringement.”
Kim also underlined that “if files are your property, then the U.S. government has taken millions of people’s property without warning or legal standing.”
The floating head (because that’s how Kim appeared at the festival) on the screen continued saying that…
“My life right now is pretty relaxed. My new company is doing very well — over 3 million users [on Mega]. I go to the cinema. I play games. Not much has changed. It’s a different type of game now. I love Call of Duty; this is just a different type of Call of Duty. Instead of modern war, this is legal war.”
After striking a huge success with Mega, Kim is planning on launching a music service called Megabox. Unlike iTunes, Megabox is going to be hosted on the internet, will use HTML 5 coding, and will give musicians 90% of all sales. Kudos to that!
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Digital Media, Mobile Phones, P2P technology, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services
Not long after Kim’s business plans that bear the name of Mega were tempered with in more than one way, the German entrepreneur decided to lay down a mega deal – Bitcoins as payment for premium accounts on his new storage service.
A while ago, the anti-piracy group named StopFileLockers started a campaign against Kim’s website, aiming to cut some of its financial sources (read more here).
Although the group’s campaign proved to be somewhat successful, Kim delivered a heavy blow to their victory by letting everyone know that Mega is now accepting bitcoins as payment for premium accounts.
A bitcoin is worth approximately 20 euros, and the beautiful thing about this currency is that it’s not sustained in any way by any government in the world. This huge advantage was all that Kim needed.
“#Mega now accepts #BITCOIN via our newest reseller Bitvoucher: https://bitvoucher.co,” Kim tweeted last Saturday.
As such, for less than 10 euros (that’s half a bitcoin), one can purchase a premium account, taking advantage on the 500GB of data storage and 1TB bandwidth per month. Mega’s payment plans also include yearly subscriptions.
However, the bitcoin is yet to be accepted as a currency worldwide. The first step into becoming a recognized and recognizable currency was taken last year, when Bitcoin Central managed to get the approval of the French government to operate as a real bank. To learn more about what bitcoin means, about its features and economic rules, you can visit this website: http://bitcoin.org/about.html
“The Bitcoin payment system allows its users to make payments without revealing their identities or other personal information, unlike credit cards, Paypal and similar systems,” BitVoucher says. “Both Bitvoucher and our payment processor, zipbit, believe that an excess of customer information is already collected through existing channels, and we like to consider ourselves a haven from the intrusive nature of most payment processors. … We place a tracking I.D. in your browser (BVID located in the top left of your screen in blue) so we can identify you in the future; do not clear your browser data before completing your order and obtaining your Mega Voucher or you’ll be unable to retrieve your Mega Voucher code,” BitVoucher said about the security of these transactions.
An informative FAQ about how Mega and BitVoucher work together can be read here.
In related news, the Megaupload case catches our attention once again, with federal authorities disagreeing with Kim’s claims that he was led into a trap after collaborating with them in a case against a rival file-sharing service – NinjaVideo (read more here).
In short, NinjaVideo was using Megaupload’s infrastructure, thus becoming a target for a federal investigation. Although, at the same time, Megaupload was itself under investigation (unbeknownst to Kim), Kim agreed to give a helping hand. This decision proved to be fatal for Megaupload, as the 39 infringing files that were attributed to NinjaVideo were also used to prove Megaupload’s culpability.
“Megaupload had every reason to retain those files in good faith because the government had sought and obtained Megaupload’s cooperation in retrieving those files and warned that alerting users to the existence of the warrant and the government’s interest in the files could compromise the investigation,” Kim’s attorney Ira Rothken said in a recent court filing.
In response, the federal prosecutors told the court that there was more evidence to prove Megaupload’s fault, besides the files in question.
“The affidavit noted infringing content was present on the website, see id. at ¶ 13, and included evidence of Megaupload’s awareness of infringing content on its own system by describing how members of the Mega Conspiracy had searched Megaupload databases in order to personally access infringing content. Id. at ¶ 13. The affidavit also stated, based on reviews of e-mails sent or received by members of the conspiracy, that Megaupload willfully ignored takedown notices regarding infringing content, and that members of the Mega Conspiracy had themselves uploaded infringing content to the website. Id. at ¶ 15. Finally, the affidavit stated that the various domains to be seized had been facilitated and promoted by the conspiracy’s illicit proceeds. Id. at ¶ 18. This was more than sufficient to demonstrate ‘a fair probability’ that the domain names were subject to forfeiture,” the filing reads.
You can read the whole statement here.