Watching the interview with Kim Dotcom on Campbell live the other night, it was an interesting view to hear his point of view.
If we assume that he was telling the truth about the key facts, then this will be an interesting case to follow:
Kim Dotcom is accused of copyright piracy, or aiding copyright piracy. In practise, Kim Dotcom provides a simple technical solution. With MegaUpload, you can upload a file to their servers, create a private link, and then share that link with your friends. The intended purpose of this is to share large files which are too large for email attachments.
There is nothing technically illegal about what their service was. However, anyone can upload a file containing copyrighted material, and share the link far and wide with friends. In this case, is the copyright infringer the person who uploaded the file, the person or people who downloaded the file, the service provider who unknowingly stored the file on their servers, the ISP who allowed the file to be uploaded or the ISP(s) who allowed the file to be downloaded? Consider that ISP's might also cache files, which creates a storage and publishing issue.
Let's make another example. When someone sends illegal drugs through the post, do we blame NZ Post?
Or another example involving ISP's. Most of the internet traffic these days is typically illegally downloaded music, movies and porn.
Kim Dotcom claims that MegaUpload servers dealt with thousands of transactions a second. Is it reasonable to expect a file sharing service provider to manually check every link? Would it be more reasonable to let copyright owners do their own checking, and give them a login to immediately delete any link on the system that they know about. After all, every link would have a unique reference, and if the copyright owner knows of a link, it could be a relatively simple feature to let them delete those links in a 24/7 capacity.
There are laws which state that the responsibility of an ISP is limited to removing illegal content as soon as it is bought to their attention. Kim Dotcom claims they acted responsibly providing the auto delete service above, and responding in a swift fashion to any other complaints. It would seem that they have broken no law.
Kim Dotcom raises another point, no one has sued them. It seems strange that no one has. It also seems odd that Kim Dotcom had squads of police knocking on his door in the middle of the night, for a matter that seems to be more of a commercial issue, when another recent case involving the "switched on gardener" allowed them to trade until such time as the court ordered them to be shut down.
Consider also that it will take several months before Kim Dotcom goes to trial. In the meanwhile, he is innocent until proven guilty. He is entitled to live in his home and cover expenses, these expenses will be recovered from the assets confiscated, and at the rate that Kim Dotcom spends money, there may be few assets left by the time this goes to trial.
The only failing that Kim Dotcom has, is that he has made alot of money from providing a service which is widely used for copyright piracy. Their service is free, but you can pay for faster download speeds. The target audience who would want faster download speeds, are those who want to watch new "movies" every night, or download alot of "music". It is in this regard only, that it is clear his money has mainly been made off the backs of content providers. However, this is not a matter which needs police envolvement. I don't believe my tax payers money should be spent prosecuting Kim Dotcom. If the movie producers have a strong case, then they can fund their own battles, and make it a civil matter. It may end up being that they can legally recoup the money, or seek a share in the proceeds. Even if he leaves the country, those content providers could petition the government in his absense, to block his web address.
He could of course start up another service by another name, but then that raises another key issue in Dotcoms defence, he hasn't done anything anyone else isn't doing. Technically, there is little difference between some of the file sharing and video watching services of Google, Apple, Youtube, Microsoft, and many other services very identical to MegaUpload, such as RapidShare. Many of those companies have been involved in legal disputes over copyright, but none of them have had their CEO's taken to prison for several days.
Another argument he makes is that there would be less of a need for people to share illegally copied movies/tv, if those movies/tv were released internationally at the same time, thus allowing all views to see the original legal content at the same time as everyone else, so that they can all participate in conversations online. Consider the issue of belonging to a forum for a favourite TV show when NZ is a season or 6 months behind. Such a change in the world would allow content producers to solve their own piracy issues.
I'm not saying Kim Dotcom is a good guy, nor innocent, nor am I saying he should not be sued, but I am saying that we should not be wasting our police and justice system resources on this man, and especially should not be impinging on his civil rights to be treated fairly by our police and justice system.
Posted: Tuesday 6 March 2012