Don't care how much you dislike Kim Dotcom, this is wrong

Andrus Nom was a programmer at Megaupload, the file sharing site run by Kim Dotcom. He was arrested in Virginia this week and has under a plea bargain with US prosecutors pleaded guilty to “felony copyright infringement” and been sentenced to a year and one day in prison.

Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said in the statement. “The Mega conspirators are charged with massive worldwide online piracy of movies, music and other copyrighted U.S. works. We intend to see to it that all those responsible are held accountable for illegally enriching themselves by stealing the creative work of U.S. artists and creators.”

Nom’s defence made the following statement in return-

The [Department of Justice] apparently used Andrus Nomm’s weak financial condition and inability to fight back to manufacture a Hollywood style publicity stunt in the form of a scripted guilty plea in court.

The facts mentioned in court, like a lack of cloud filtering of copyrighted works, are civil secondary copyright issues, not criminal issues. The facts read off in court sound like the civil allegations against YouTube made by Viacom, and YouTube won.

The plea deal appears to allow the [Department of Justice] to obtain testimony from Andrus Nomm under threats of an increased sentence if they take issue with his level of cooperation. If Andrus Nomm testifies truthfully including about the copyright neutral software code and robust notice and takedown system such testimony will help the defense.

So what the US has done, on the basis of laws framed to please the lobbyists and donors from the Hollywood anti-piracy faction, is harassed this simple coder for three years, someone completely without the means to defend himself, especially considering his assets were frozen, and forced him to accept a plea bargain in return for admitting to a framework of charges that read as if they were specifically set up to make sure the case against Kim Dotcom succeeds.

Its much like a hostage being forced to make a speech into a video camera by his abductors.

How many people know the same kind of code written by Andru Nom is used at every file sharing site in the world, including Google, Dropbox, YouTube and a hundred other such sites? Are all of these coders now at risk? If Nom’s conviction is solid they should be.

Its worse than that though. The Dept of Justice and therefore the American taxpayer has become the enforcement arm of the RIAA and the MPAA. Through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act the downloading of a $5 movie or 50 cent song becomes a $600,000 felony.

Not much different to the people who made the cassette recorder using their big money connections with government to preserve their multi-billion dollar income earner when in fact because of advances in technology that business model collapsed decades ago.

The cold hard reality is this. Technology has moved on and its just not possible for actors like Tom Cruise and producers like Steven Speilberg to make hundreds of millions from movies anymore. The business model is outdated.

I sympathise with software developers, but one has to weigh the massive injustices and infringements on liberty that result from these acts against the rights of people to earn income from software. I think the price of enforcement is far too high.

BTW, don’t expect any rational comment on this from the usual John Key worshiping National Party blogs. It will all be “cant wait to see this fat German bastard in an orange jumpsuit” etc etc. For objective and mature comment, I suggest you look offshore.

4 thoughts on “Don't care how much you dislike Kim Dotcom, this is wrong

  1. Well, I never thought the day would come, but I have to agree with you.

    One of the worst aspects of the US legal system is displayed here, the use of “plea bargains” in an attempt to subvert justice by forcing a defendant to “cop a plea” rather than having their day in court.

    The Innocence Project has uncovered so many false and malicious convictions based on the brow beating and threats during “plea bargaining”, and sadly, the supposed defence counsel is often a major force in getting the plea accepted.


    • I think if you are a true right winger you support small weak basic government providing core services only. For example you cannot be a Libertarian and then say you support the huge government structures and accompanying invasions of privacy needed to enforce the kind of copyright laws that exist today. Copyright should be a private issue and breaches dealt with under corporate contract law.

      This case is IMHO driven by big money donors out of Hollywood pushing the Obama administration to act and it always has been so. The prosecution of Kim Dotcom here in NZ was just another example of people who know people in govt pulling strings and collecting on friendships and favours.

      The plea bargain with Andrus Nom just tops off what a terrible corruption of procedure and justice this whole event has been.


  2. Yes the whole Dotcom saga should be a warning to everybody.

    Sad to see our Government acting like some submissive gimp to big money interests in the US.


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