And the madness that is this Kafkaesque case against Kim Dotcom continues, this time the Court rules that the Police had no cause to have arrested Kim on the charges of Copyright infringement, but have given our legal sovereignty over to the United States by instead finding trumped up fraud charges as the excuse to trigger extradition.
David Fisher recaps the terrible level of incompetence and acquiescence to America that John Key locked us into…
When our elite anti-terrorist police stormed the Coatesville mansion to make arrests, the warrant they issued to Dotcom cited exactly the section of the Copyright Act which the court now says in not an extraditable offence.
It’s worth considering this in context with what else happened at the time.
There were also issues with the restraining order for Dotcom’s assets. It was the first major blunder in a case which would see others.
There were innumerable issues with the search warrant – it didn’t go through the right approval channels and contained dodgy intelligence which overstated the risk.
There was also the spying failure where it turned out the Government Communications Security Bureau – partner agency to the National Security Agency – was following a rulebook written on a misunderstanding of its own law.
And so how long was it known that it might not be possible to extradite Dotcom for alleged criminal violation of the Copyright Act?
The court hearings started to feature the word “fraud” some time after the arrest. It was at least six months and possibly a year. Prior to that, all the references were about “criminal copyright”.
Just how many errors have there been in the Dotcom case? The only thorough rinse-through of any of the errors seems to the review of the GCSB by then-Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Kitteridge.
The reason it matters is that we’re still a few years away from a conclusion to this case.
…I appreciate NZers have bought into the right wing John Key narrative that Kim Dotcom is some Bond Villain who deserves to be thrown to the Americans. The unbelievable way New Zealanders and the mainstream media framed the Moment of Truth as a giant waste of time because Kim didn’t prove Key knew about him before he claimed shows the juvenile nature of our immaturity as a society.
The Moment of Truth had Assange, Greenwald and Edward Snowden prove without a shadow of a doubt that John Key had lied through his teeth about mass surveillance. It showed the NSA and CIA have staff here, it showed they planned to spike the sea cable and steal data directly from that feed and it showed that our GCSB went and met with the NSA to assure them the law Key had just pushed through allowed for mass surveillance despite Key telling the NZ public that it didn’t.
But what did NZ focus on? Kim not proving Key knew he existed before he claimed to have known.
This is us as a country…
So why should you care about this legal case? There are 2 reasons why you as a NZer should care about the Kim Dotcom case.
The first is the unbelievable injustice of the entire fiasco. Kim was illegally spied upon by the GCSB, he was set up by NZ immigration services so that he would enter the country in the first place, our security apparatus slavishly followed US agencies with a live feed to the NSA during the raid, the entire event was politically motivated after Corporate Hollywood threatened to with-hold donations to Obama’s Presidential bid if they didn’t make a symbolic gesture against internet piracy, and the case against him is so weak it looks like incredible over reach by our authorities and US authorities…
One of Dotcom’s lawyers, Robert Amsterdam, told The Independent that the criminal case against his client, which alleges that Dotcom used Megaupload as a front for a criminal enterprise that willingly shared and profited from millions of dollars’ worth of copyrighted material, is based on erroneous use of civil law and is rooted in the relationship between the upper reaches of the Democratic party and the film-making industry.
In particular, Amsterdam cites the friendship between Vice President Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and a former Senator.
According to Amsterdam and his co-counsel, the US Department of Justice is going to great lengths to prosecute, and thus appease the Hollywood lobby, using racketeering laws to bolster a weak case built on non-existent civil theories of ‘secondary copyright infringement’.
“Here you have, if you excuse me, computer geeks, and they’re being treated as if they’re the heads of the Gambino crime family,” he says.
Expanding on a white paper recently released via Dotcom’s website, Amsterdam points out that the raid on Dotcom’s mansion came on the same day as the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill designed to tackle online piracy, was shelved in US Congress after outcry from online giants such as Google and Facebook, which claimed it would curb online freedoms.
The day before, Dodd made comments implying that the MPAA would stop supporting President Obama if something was not done to tackle copyright infringement.
Dodd, a man Biden has described as one of his best friends, had told FOX News: “Those who count on quote ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don’t ask me to write a cheque for you when you think your job is at risk, and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”
For Hollywood, a considerable amount of money is certainly at stake. The MPAA estimates that online piracy costs the US film industry around $20.5bn per year. Though critics say the true figure is in the hundreds of millions, it is still a significant loss for an industry that is already facing other funding pressures after the 2008 financial crisis.
Amsterdam argues that shutting down Megaupload, and the raid on Dotcom, was a “Plan B” to pushing through SOPA.
“I think, when the President of the Motion Picture Association, on 19 January says that if people basically don’t help him out, he’s not writing any cheques, and then on the 20 January [authorities] attack my client… and throw him in jail, there’s at least an inference there that at least requires an explanation.”
Amsterdam also points to White House logs, which show President Obama hosted Chris Dodd for a two-and-a-half hour private lunch meeting in the Oval Office on 9 December 2011, six weeks before the raid.
Though some would call this conspiratorial, and sceptics will point to the many other issues a former Senator and Hollywood bigwig would discuss at the White House, Amsterdam argues that Megaupload and its founder are likely to have cropped up.
“Starting off from all of the legal grounds that exist and moving to the political nature of the attack [we must ask] ‘was this discussed in the White House?’ and ‘who said what to whom?’,” he says.
Hollywood’s long-standing financial support for the Democrats is no secret. Amsterdam describes the relationship thus: “The MPAA is to the Democrats what the NRA is to the Republicans.”
One glitzy, celebrity-packed dinner organised by George Clooney raised $15m for Obama’s re-election campaign last year.
…this case has been an abomination of legal process, jurisdiction and injustice. You might not like Kim Dotcom, but the manner in which his rights have been breached and 70 odd armed paramilitary cops broke into his home and terrorised him and his family is as unacceptable as the abuses of power used in court against him.
This is not what our justice system should be used for, we are not a puppet for US interests, we should be a sovereign state with our own laws and judicial system that is beyond influence by America and their corporate overlords.
I’ll appreciate if this is all news to you, because this is the current standard of political journalism in NZ…
…why tomato sauce doesn’t pour properly. That’s the standard of our journalism.
But the injustice of this case may not move you. You may have bought into the media hype of Dotcom as a Bond Villain and enjoyed his failure at the ballot box. You may have decided that despite Assange, Snowden and Greenwald proving at the Moment of Truth that John Key lied to us about mass surveillance, that Kim fell short of what he promised and he got his just desserts.
If you fall into that category then the possibility of being sued if this goes south may concern you…
New twist in Kim Dotcom case
The managers of the nation’s finances were kept at arm’s length when the Kim Dotcom case required Kiwi taxpayers to underwrite a potential future legal suit from the internet entrepreneur, a new document shows.
Instead, then-police commissioner Peter Marshall signed the “undertaking in respect to costs and damages” – the agreement which would allow Dotcom to sue New Zealand if it emerged the FBI case against him was unfair and unfounded.
It was the first time that the Crown was required to give an “undertaking” in a case where the property of someone facing charges was seized and was because the charges were brought by a foreign agency.
The need to provide an “undertaking of liability” emerged after police seized the tycoon’s cash and property without notice. The law required Dotcom have the chance to challenge the seizure and be given formal notice of his right to sue the Crown.
The need to provide an undertaking in March and April 2012 surprised the Crown and the Herald sought details of the debate and consideration over the risk to which NZ was exposed through the Official Information Act in July 2012. Treasury refused to supply the information sought so the Ombudsman was called on to investigate.
After three years of deliberation, Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakeham found there was a “public interest” which would be met by releasing a summary, which Treasury sent to the Herald this month.
The summary showed there were meetings “to discuss the case and how to inform ministers” were held Crown Law, police, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice and Treasury.
On March 22 2012 Finance minister Bill English was told he “did not have a role in approving or signing off this kind of undertaking”. Instead, it was the Commissioner of Police’s role under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act.
While Mr English was kept briefed – including a briefing from Mr Marshall and Attorney General Chris Finlayson – there was no process established through which he was able to be formally involved in the undertaking.
Under the Public Finance Act, Mr English is responsible for matters which might impact on Crown accounts. Dotcom has claimed the loss of Megaupload cost him more than $2 billion although others have argued the impact is far less.
The summary provided to the Herald said there had been a review of the mutual legal assistance framework of which Treasury was a part. It “intended to use the forum to recommend the establishment of a consultation process and set out criteria for issuing undertakings”.
The requirement to give an undertaking to the court to meet any damages was a factor which put Sony off joining a civil case seeking to claim Dotcom’s assets, emailed hacked and released last year revealed. Sony’s top copyright lawyer, Aimee Wolfson, said it was “not at all unimaginable” Dotcom would avoid extradition or even successfully defend himself in the United States.
The studio is not a participant in a case in NZ courts with discussion in the emails showing potential exposure to a legal suit from Dotcom concerning executives.
The risk to which New Zealand is exposed was underscored by a legal opinion released today from Harvard University’s professor of law Lawrence Lessig, one of the world’s leading experts on copyright law. He said the FBI charges would not stand up in US courts and there was no basis in law for Dotcom to be extradited.
…let’s re-read that again. Sony decided not to sign up to the case against Dotcom because they believed there was a chance he would get off these trumped up charges and in turn sue everyone involved in taking him down to the tune of $2billion???
And we had to sign up to this?
So how much exactly are we on the hook for here? If you don’t care that he has been unjustly dealt with and his rights breached, you may be in for one hell of a shock if he wins and we are left paying for this politically motivated prosecution.
To date this case so that John Key could get a round of golf with Obama has cost NZ $30million, it’s going to cost another $20million and if Kim wins, he will have damages in the billions to claim against NZ.
Still laughing sleepy hobbits? Perhaps the majority of NZ needs to stop sniggering and start asking some serious fucking questions here because if the Supreme Court refuses to allow America to declare they have jurisdiction in cyber space, we are on the hook for a damages case the likes we’ve never seen before.