Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Mega Conspiracy

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  • Dylan Reeve,

    It's interesting the way the news articles seem to have been using "Mega Conspiracy"...

    Dotcom and six others are alleged to be part of a group called the "Mega Conspiracy",

    (From NZ Herald today)

    It's usually used in a way that would imply to anyone not familiar with the case or FBI indictment that they were calling themselves "Mega Conspiracy" - which of course tends to suggest they were indeed knowingly up to no good.

    As for the cost to the NZ taxpayer - 76 officers, two helicopters, etc - if Dotcom is extradited (or deported perhaps) then who gets the seized property? Millions of dollars of property has been seized by the NZ Police and I can't imagine the Americans have any claim to it, so who gets it? Perhaps that pays for the operation (and so much more)?

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 191 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    We can only presume that our taxes are paying for actions that may carry on for some time yet.

    And are guaranteed the same co-operation by other countries, as when, for example, our police were working to get back several million dollars accidentally deposited into someone's bank account.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2971 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    I've been told that it was 76 - seventy-six - police, with the Armed Offenders Squad in support that raided the mansion. All that because of unproven allegations.

    Since Nov 2006 • 520 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Martin,

    The Pirate party's Rick Falkvinge also expresses some dismay.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 184 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    Millions of dollars of property has been seized by the NZ Police and I can’t imagine the Americans have any claim to it, so who gets it? Perhaps that pays for the operation (and so much more)?

    Proceeds of crime.
    Or victims who wish to sue?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2971 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Graham, in reply to Juha Saarinen,

    All that because of unproven allegations.

    Not quite sure what you're saying here - aren't they unproven because they haven't been to Court yet, so any raid on any person/property by Police will be because of unproven allegations?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 195 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Juha Saarinen,

    I’ve been told that it was 76 – seventy-six – police, with the Armed Offenders Squad in support that raided the mansion. All that because of unproven allegations.

    Arrests do almost always happen before trials, rather than after them.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2971 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    There's a predictable bitter irony to the fact that one of the few businesses that showed it was possible to make good money by charging reasonable (and even optional!) fees for people to consume media online has been targetted here. I'd like to think that the MPAA and RIAA took this opportunity to launch their own international services, but they've hardly been managed with an eye to engaging positively with online consumers so far, so why would they start now?

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Arrests do almost always happen before trials, rather than after them

    Seizure of assets and shutting down of business operations, though? Shouldn't that require more proof than "Hollywood said so"?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I'll point out that any extradition will not be because of the copyright issue. The Extradition Act 1999, s4(2), does not allow extradition for an offence where the maximum penalty for that offence under NZ law is less than 12 months, and s198(4)(b) of the Copyright Act 1994 provides for a maximum penalty for criminal copyright infringement (being infringement for commercial gain) of three months.

    Extradition therefore must be for one of the "criminal" matters, and is still up for decision and appeal through the courts. Extradition is a judicial process, not an administrative one, and unlike others I'm not really willing to credit our judiciary with a deep-seated desire to supplicate before corporate American dosh.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Juha Saarinen,

    When the warning is that firearms are involved, the AOS will usually be present. My understanding was that a number of properties had been raided, not just the mansion. That would justify a large deployment of officers across the city.

    Just about everyone ever arrested has been on unproven allegations - the proof or otherwise happens in court, which can only come after the arrest.

    I'm getting tired of people (many of whom should know better) leaping on this as though the police have over-reacted just because those people feel copyright law is broken and therefore any action taken in its name must be wrong. If you've read the indictment, the primary charges are racketeering and money laundering of proceeds of criminal copyright activity. Those charges fall within our extradition treaty as potentially justifying extradition, but it will be up to the court today to determine whether they meet the grounds for approval.

    As Graeme notes, extradition arrests happen all the time around the world and sometimes at our request (notably the 'accidental millionaire' but also Nai Yin Xue who was arrested in the US under an NZ warrant.

    PS Russell - I believe the FBI has laid claim to all the assets, as they are part of the 'proceeds of criminal activity' claim, so NZ won't get any of it.

    EDIT: Snap Graeme and Matthew

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1701 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard, in reply to Juha Saarinen,

    I’ve been told that it was 76 – seventy-six – police

    Any word yet on the number of trombones?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1037 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Sacha,

    Seizure of assets and shutting down of business operations, though? Shouldn’t that require more proof than “Hollywood said so”?

    The case has been before a grand jury in the US and satisfied the conditions that must be met. Read the indictment – it’s quite interesting.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1701 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    so I think the theory that the raid was timed as revenge for the internet pushback against the SOPA and PIPA bills in the US House and Senate respectively is dubious.

    Agree, but I'd be more inclined to think that a push came from the fact that Universal, and by extension the RIAA, were made to look particularly stupid by the blowback from that video last year.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3185 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Also, I was told on Saturday by Someone Who Knows About Such Things(tm) that, although the USG seized the domain name, the IP address was still active and the servers were still online at that time. I can neither confirm nor dent ;-)

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1701 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Undoubtedly, but the DoJ PR indicates that the "Mega-Conspiracy" investigation has been going on for 2 years. I'm surprised it's taken so long for the US to have a go at the cyber-lockers. I'm guessing they really wanted to have their ducks in a row before they moved.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1701 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Arrests do almost always happen before trials, rather than after them.

    Indeed. The forcible closure, without a trial, of a service used legitimately by millions of people seems a little different, though.

    It's interesting that the key to the indictment is that the defendants are alleged to have committed infringements on a scale that would be familiar to most of us here -- personally accessing infringing content, sharing links with others. Without that, as I understand it, the subsequent racketeering and money-laundering charges don't fly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17967 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Tom Beard,

    boom tish!

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1701 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Almost always on that scale too, with assets seized without a trial?

    Since Nov 2006 • 520 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Oh, I forgot to post Gizmodo's Best Worst Photos of Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom. Most amusing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17967 posts Report Reply

  • Wammo,

    Interesting also that it's only now become clear why Gin Wigmore's name was mentioned in the Universal DMCA take down last year. Megaupload claimed rightly that Gin didn't feature in the YouTube clip but according to yesterday's SST story she actually recorded a pro Megaupload track but this (as far as I know) hasn't seen the light of day. It appears Universal was jumping the gun and perhaps fearful when they included Gin in the copyright claim.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 42 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    The case has been before a grand jury in the US and satisfied the conditions that must be met.

    Thanks

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It’s interesting that the key to the indictment is that the defendants are alleged to have committed infringements on a scale that would be familiar to most of us here – personally accessing infringing content, sharing links with others. Without that, as I understand it, the subsequent racketeering and money-laundering charges don’t fly.

    My reading is that their alleged personal infringement is used to show that they knew their system was being used for copyright infringement and not only did nothing to stop it, but profited personally and financially from that fact. They are alleged to not have taken down material when advised under the DMCA that it was present, but only to have removed the reported links to the material, while leaving it and unreported links in place so that infringement could still continue. This, if proven, would be a breach of the 'safe harbour' provisions. The financial profit aspect would go to the criminal copyright infringement charge, and the 'money laundering' charge would relate to moving the profits out of the US.

    It will also be interesting to see if they paid the relevant taxes in the US and Hong Kong (or even here). That's how Al Capone was taken down, remember. (No, I am not comparing Capone's activities with Dotcom/Schmitz, don't be silly.)

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1701 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Without that, as I understand it, the subsequent racketeering and money-laundering charges don't fly.

    I guess you need a crime to have proceeds of it to launder.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    I guess you need a crime to have proceeds of it to launder.

    I think that's the key to it, yes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17967 posts Report Reply

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