Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Mega Conspiracy

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  • Andre Alessi,

    That's something I find genuinely interesting-the charges being levelled (money laundering and racketeering ) presumably assume that other crimes were committed to make these behaviours criminal (i.e. i don' t believe you can "launder" legitimate income.) How does that work in this case?

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 862 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Q: What is the lesson of the events at the Chrisco mansion?

    A: If you rip off the poor, you get to build the Chrisco mansion. If you rip off the rich, you get to be arrested in it.

    I was shocked at the level of state force used in the raid – 76 armed police and two helicopters to arrest four geeks with no history of violence. Use of massive asymmetric force and militarised policing seems to contaminate every jurisdiction touched by the hegemonic U.S. police state apparatus. It certainly seems to feed the action man fantasies of our police force.

    But I have been even more dismayed at the way the media has breathlessly acted as repeaters of a concerted campaign of character assassination and smears aimed at the Mr. Dotcom and his colleagues by the enthusiastic enablers of U.S. economic colonialism, AKA the New Zealand Police Force. The aim is clearly to have these guys convicted before they ever get near a judge and jury.

    Another big worry is that is this is occurring against a backdrop of a hopelessly corrupt political establishment in the United States. Since, as Glenn Greenwald points out, the U.S. really is a society that simply no longer believes in due process that creates a toxic environment for anyone dealing in intellectual property who may happen to run foul of an American corporation. It seems United States companies now merely need to mention the word "pirate" and they can have anyone shut down without due process. Anyone who thinks this won't eventually be used to arbitrarily deal with competitors in all areas of IP and copyright is dreaming. Anyone in a patent or IP dispute with a US corporation is now at risk of -at the very least - having their domain name seized and servers confiscated for who knows how long it will take. At worst, you might find yourself languishing in a local jail, courtesy of an enthusiastic colonial police force. And in the meantime, the US business that made the complaint will sail on free.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1810 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tom Beard,

    Any word yet on the number of trombones?

    Yes, only 6 of them were rusty.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8587 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to nzlemming,

    I'm surprised it's taken so long for the US to have a go at the cyber-lockers.

    I agree, Mark. I've long been surprised at how little noise has been made by the mega-content owners over these.

    That said, as Russell says, these sorts of sites are extensively used by the artists and creators contracted to these companies, and there will no doubt be grumbling. I've lost several uploads myself in this - all legit.

    And this does feel to me like another building PR disaster on the part of the MPAA and RIAA. Aside from the assets seized, there doesn't seem to be an upside in this for them.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I was shocked at the level of state force used in the raid – 76 armed police and two helicopters to arrest four geeks with no history of violence.

    Mind you, one of them was finally cut from his panic room and found to have a shotgun for company. Does strike me as an especially paranoid bloke. Presumably the number of police might have been informed by a little bit of undercover work, and any time you find someone has made their house into Fort Knox, you don't take chances.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8587 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    And this does feel to me like another building PR disaster on the part of the MPAA and RIAA. Aside from the assets seized, there doesn’t seem to be an upside in this for them.

    Yup. It's like I say to people about unions - if you treat your staff like people instead of work units and treat them fairly, you will never have union trouble. The MPAA and RIAA are engineering their own demise.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2151 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    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.

    I'm quite familiar with how Megaupload works, but I still don't understand this bit. Anyone?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    another building PR disaster on the part of the MPAA and RIAA

    Torrentfreak has a rather caustic assessment of their efforts in Australia with the iiNet case.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16750 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to BenWilson,

    any time you find someone has made their house into Fort Knox, you don't take chances.

    I'd be really interested to know if Dotcom installed the panic room, or the Chrisco people :-D

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2151 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    or the Chrisco people

    this ham is rank!

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16750 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    The aim is clearly to have these guys convicted before they ever get near a judge and jury.

    TVNZ's 6.00 news last night produced a filmmaker from Christchurch who breathlessly told us how many thousands she had lost to Kim. No evidence to support this of course.

    Will they televise the hanging?

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to 3410,

    I’m quite familiar with how Megaupload works, but I still don’t understand this bit. Anyone?

    Megaupload (and cyberlockers in general) generate a unique ID for any items in their content management system and that's what you share as a link. While each ID will only access one item, an item can be referenced by many ID's. To fulfil the 'safe harbour' provision of the DMCA, providers must take down any content identifed as infringing, i.e. remove it from the server). The FBI alleges that MU did not do this. They provided a tool for the content industry to remove content, but it is alleged that it would only remove one particular identified link, leaving the content (and any other links to it) still in place.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2151 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    I gotta admit, my first reaction when this story broke wasn't "Wow, big crime and IT story" but "This guy lives in the outskirts of Auckland ?".

    I see Winston Peters is already trying to manipulate it into a political story too, surprise, surprise.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 612 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2151 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    They provided a tool for the content industry to remove content, but it is alleged that it would only remove one particular identified link, leaving the content (and any other links to it) still in place.

    Right, so how does Megaupload deactivate a hyperlink on a site that is not their own without deactivating the page linked to?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    this all seems to be a huge over-reaction given the nature of the alleged offences and the timing most poor given the anti SOPA and PIPA online protests which US politicians are now pandering to

    the trial by lifestyle currently going on in the media is disgusting - I expect similar insight into the lifestyles of the SCF directors who've outed themselves - yeah right

    sure doesn't leave you with a good feeling about backing up to any cloud based service

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 340 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Mind you, one of them was finally cut from his panic room and found to have a shotgun for company. Does strike me as an especially paranoid bloke.

    It astonishes me how many people allow their line of thinking to be formed by police press releases dutifully relayed through a friendly media. The police positively encourage people to install (legal) security systems. Panic rooms are common enough these days. Mr. Dotcom’s security systems were all legal. I would suspect Mr. Dotcom has an accurate assessment of how much effort international authorities would put in to saving him should he be kidnapped, which makes his personal security arrangements less paranoid than realistic. I note that the shotgun was legally owned and in an approved gun safe in the safe room and NO firearms charges in relation to them have been laid. God, the police couldn’t even score the trifecta of “guns, drugs and cash”.

    The police propaganda machine has been in overdrive in inviting people to imagine Mr. Dotcom was sitting in some sort of aberrant fortress nervously fingering a shadily obtained sawn off weapon, and only the wise presence of overwhelming coercive state power prevented a Ruby Ridge in Coatsville. I suspect it was more about keeping the Americans happy than stopping a potential shoot out that dictated the police’s tactics.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1810 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Mega mage game implode...
    Computerworld has a piece on the implications for unwary 'Cloud' users as well...
    And who is to say that Google or Apple* might not 'go bad' or be perceived by some Hegemony to be a threat to their interests and also be 'legally restrained'...
    Witness the reaction to Wikipedia being down for a day - and they only store public domain information !
    I wonder if New Zealand's Police Cyber Crimes unit was also involved or if they were bypassed by the FBI?
    Perhaps there is a case for any action like this to have Cyber Receivers or Administrators, to ensure the continuation of legal services while illegal actions are investigated - as having all eggs in one basket can have dire economic results for affected individuals and companies...

    Once again I wonder if this is part of the price for NZ's admission to the TPPA, jumping when the US copyright moguls crack the whip...

    *Apple's new create your own iBooks app has a sting hidden in the fine print...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5046 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I was shocked at the level of state force used in the raid – 76 armed police and two helicopters to arrest four geeks with no history of violence.

    76 police officers, some of them from the Armed Offenders Squad, and two helicopters, to search and contain this place. I just cannot get my rage on at that number of officers being used on such a massive property. It’s fucking enormous, and with this being about digital offending it’s not an unreasonable concern that the suspects might try and erase evidence if they weren’t apprehended promptly.

    Also, as has been observed, Dotcom was eventually cut out of a panic room which contained a firearm. Presumably he has a firearms licence, and that information would have been weighed when deciding to utilise the AOS. That the shotgun was in a safe is irrelevant, as its very presence in a panic room would be prima facie evidence that it was owned for self-defence and that’s not considered a lawful purpose.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to nzlemming,

    I'd be really interested to know if Dotcom installed the panic room, or the Chrisco people :-D

    Heh. I bet he's the only one who used it, though. Cracks me up, the idea of using a panic room against the police, though. Did he think they'd just give up and go away in the end?

    He should have had an escape tunnel, if it was the police he was avoiding, leading to a cave with bushes that part as his amphibious car slips out. He could have got to his submarine before they even got into the panic room.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8587 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    The police propaganda machine has been in overdrive in inviting people to imagine Mr. Dotcom was sitting in some sort of aberrant fortress nervously fingering some sort of shadily obtained sawn off weapon.

    I'm surprised they didn't say that he had a knife. ;)

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Urquhart, in reply to 3410,

    Right, so how does Megaupload deactivate a hyperlink on a site that is not their own without deactivating the page linked to?

    Simple - the target page doesn't actually contain any specific content. The link goes to a script which looks at the ID supplied in the URI and then serves up the media that ID is associated with.

    Remove* the association between the ID and the media and the link containing the ID will no longer work. (The page will display whatever message it is programmed to in that instance.)

    *or more likely just toggle a flag next to that ID in the database so you can still track how many people try to use that link.

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2009 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    And this does feel to me like another building PR disaster on the part of the MPAA and RIAA. Aside from the assets seized, there doesn’t seem to be an upside in this for them.

    Quite – and I was one of the ‘Big Six’ studios who are the MPAA I'd be re-thinking whether new head ‘Senator’ Chis Dodd is really earning his keep.

    "Candidly, 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,” Dodd told Fox News. “Don’t ask me to write a check 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."

    Shorter MPAA: “Yo ’Bama, when I buy a bitch I expect her sweet little ass to stay brought!” Really smart, guys. And small usage note: Candidly, lobbyists who speak in the majestic plural on behalf of an entire industry they have no mandate to speak for don't come across well.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to nzlemming,

    Rick Shera on Breakfast TV this morning

    Or, as Corin Dann would have it, "Rick Sherpa".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18961 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to 3410,

    Right, so how does Megaupload deactivate a hyperlink on a site that is not their own without deactivating the page linked to?

    Sorry? The site is their own. They are not just posting links, they are actually hosting the material. So the link is internal. CMS's are databases of content which construct 'pages' on request from templates. There are no actual pages to deactivate, in the way that you or I might write HTML pages.

    EDIT: What Robert said

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2151 posts Report Reply

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