Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Uses of Dotcom

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  • Russell Brown,

    Note that Dotcom subsequently tweeted this today:

    I don't need the help of Labour / Greens in my extradition case. John Key & his gang are already doing that with their serial-law-breaking.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Pete George,

    Dotcom also tweeted:

    If #InternetParty won't poll 5+% before ballot papers are printed we'll self destruct & put our weight behind a party adopting our policies.

    Statements like that can in politics are often self-fulfilling.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2011 • 139 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    That’s pretty big news. Trouble is, neither David Cunliffe or Russel Norman actually say that – or anything of the kind – in the report.

    And I’m really glad they didn’t, because even putting aside the politics of it all it really should be a no-brainer that's it is dangerous for opposition party leaders (or the Prime Minister) trying to game the process through the media.

    As you note, Russell:

    And ministers do sometimes say no, as British Home Secretary Theresa may did last year in the case of hacker Gary McKinnon, who was wanted for trial in the US. May cited McKinnon’s disabilities (Asperger Syndrome) and depressive illness as grounds for refusing the request, and she was right to do so.

    It was also right that, as far as I’m aware, the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader carefully declined to comment, and rightly so to avoid even the appearance of interference with the Home Secretary’s exercise of her statutory duties.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Pete George,

    Is your patron going to retire if he keeps polling zero, then?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    Hi Russell,

    I'm not sure I agree with the thoughtfulness of that column, particularly in terms of the copyright section. I'm not going to go through every part of that section line-by-line, but that part at least looks pretty histrionic to me...

    I will say this is outright silly:

    Dotcom, who knows how to create systems that ensure artists get paid for their endeavours, could provide valuable insight and knowledge in creating policy that makes New Zealand a key player in neutral and fair distribution of copyright.

    I'd be interested to know how the business model for his latest CD has worked out...

    At any rate, the monetisation of music sales through the publicity to artists, is very difficult to apply to film. Afterall, you can't tour a film live, for example. But the example of music is constantly brought up and applied to film and television in these kinds of columns, and it reads to me like changing the facts to suit the argument.

    I don't think it's too helpful to demonise virtually the entire worldwide tv and film industry who are largely in favour of enforcing copyright laws by saying 'evil Hollywood''s doing it.

    Sorry in advance for bringing the ol' copyright debate up. But when we're seriously sitting here saying: 'Gee, Kim Dot Com, would be GREAT to rewrite our copyright laws because of his superb history of supporting artists', I get a pretty strong WTF response :D

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    That's pretty big news. Trouble is, neither David Cunliffe or Russel Norman actually say that -- or anything of the kind -- in the report.

    Which is pretty sensible, as giving a straight answer either way would render their actions open to judicial review for bias or pre-determination.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Peter Cox,

    I will say this is outright silly:

    Dotcom, who knows how to create systems that ensure artists get paid for their endeavours, could provide valuable insight and knowledge in creating policy that makes New Zealand a key player in neutral and fair distribution of copyright.

    I agree. Dotcom has no track record on ensuring artists get paid. And Baboom’s business model for paying artists includes the ghastly MegaKey idea – stripping out and replacing advertising on web pages viewed by people who have installed it.

    I think this is Dotcom’s problem. There was a time when Megaupload was in a position not so far from that of YouTube – and Dotcom actually pitched the MPAA a Content ID-style scheme. It wasn’t going to happen because he seems incapable of not crossing the line.

    Otoh, there was quite a high degree of innovation in the original Megaupload, and that’s also true of Mega, which won the Privacy award at last year’s Australia-New Zealand Internet Awards. So he does know how to build new things.

    I’m thinking more of the fact that had Internet NZ not pitched in, it would still be illegal to stick a CD in your computer and import it to iTunes. Some of what was in the Rianz submission on the copyright amendment bill – especially around libraries – was just plain offensive. So there is, in my view, an extremely important space for consumer advocacy on these issues.

    Sorry in advance for bringing the ol’ copyright debate up.

    Not at all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    Good points Russell, cheers.

    Looking forward to a drink again at some point :)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    It would have been unthinkable to consign the confused, vulnerable McKinnon to the US legal system.

    FTFY. There's no justice in the US system unless you are wealthy, white, male and/or attractive.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    One of the issues at the crux of Dotcom's extradition is the difference between criminal and civil copyright infringement.

    In most of our laws this is pretty clear: not paying a bill is something for civil action, whilst obtaining goods by pretending you paid (like bouncing a cheque in old skool times) is fraud, and criminal.

    Most criminal copyright infringement cases in NZ have involved deceit, such as selling fake DVDs, or a shop full of laptops built from one copy of Windows.

    The Dotcom case wasn't like this - the rights holders knew what he was doing and could (and did) take action through takedown notices or if they felt he wasn't compliant, by suing in civil court.

    It's possible to likely that the courts will agree and reject extradition on the grounds that Dotcom's conduct did not constitute the equivalent of criminal copyright violation in NZ. If not, a future government might well want to review our copyright law and clarify the limits of the criminal law. To discuss this pre-election is entirely legitimate politics.

    If our next government were to move to change the law, it's entirely reasonable that they might also reject the extradition on the grounds of incompatibility with the changed NZ law. (Legally, if someone had a homosexual relationship in Tonga or some similarly neanderthal jurisdiction before 1986, they could be extradited by NZ based on the law then applying. They wouldn't be though, I hope).

    [I just discovered the Cook Islands criminalizes (male) homosexuality. WTF? ]

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    It's interesting. I overestimated their abilities at first, thinking that Dotcom had hired real talent and strategists (no, not those two). On that basis, I assumed that they could get in the range of 2%. Not enough to get into Parliament, and not enough to affect the result (because the votes are redistributed among the other parties in proportion to their vote). But enough to divert energies from other political parties, and a real sink on limited media time and public attention.

    Now I think he will represent a minor distraction.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • alobar,

    auckland • Since Apr 2010 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    Which is pretty sensible, as giving a straight answer either way would render their actions open to judicial review for bias or pre-determination.

    I'm not sure about that. Perhaps if the statement were along the lines of "we'll extradite him by lunchtime" there might be a case of predetermination, but when the statement at issue is instead "we won't extradite him if we become Government" it's hard to see who would challenge the resulting decision if there was follow-through (not Dotcom!) and given the wide discretion afforded by the Extradition Act, how it could be a successful challenge.

    It might be daft politics - it's silly to adopt such a specific policy on an issue that still has a way to go before there is some true factual clarity - and the States would obviously be annoyed, but I'm not seeing any a administrative law exposure here.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere,

    I'm not sure about that. Perhaps if the statement were along the lines of "we'll extradite him by lunchtime" there might be a case of predetermination, but when the statement at issue is instead "we won't extradite him if we become Government" it's hard to see who would challenge the resulting decision if there was follow-through (not Dotcom!) and given the wide discretion afforded by the Extradition Act, how it could be a successful challenge.

    +1. The People acting for the United States in seeking extradition are the Crown Law Office. If a Green Party Justice Minister decides not to extradite, there's no way that Crown Law is going judicially review that decision.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3212 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The herald picks up the story but doesn't do much with it:

    Greens leader Russel Norman told 3 News that a Greens government would probably fight to keep Dotcom in New Zealand.

    He said that he did not support the extradition process.

    "I just don't think it's fair ... look at the way they have been acting illegally against him ... They illegally raided his mansion, they illegally obtained evidence, they illegally gave the evidence to the US Government against the directions of a judge.

    That is not a lawful or fair process.''

    Labour leader David Cunliffe this morning rejected any suggestion that Labour would block an extradition order.

    He said the court process so far appeared to show the Government's actions were flawed, but he respected the separation between the judicial process and political matters.

    Prime Minister John Key said opposition parties were "foolish'' for discussing an intervention in Kim Dotcom's extradition.

    "We have an extradition treaty with the United States. In my view this is not a political issue. This is an issue where the United States is invoking the extradition treaty.

    "Mr Dotcom is before the courts, and I actually think it's very foolish of politicians to personalise a particular issue.''

    This is what Key said in the same 3 News report:

    "He's got his own motivations for wanting to set up a political party. I suspect they are not to better New Zealand," says Mr Key.

    Mr Key suggested this motivation was Dotcom wanting a change of Government to prevent his extradition to the United States.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    He's got his own motivations for wanting to set up a political party. I suspect they are not to better New Zealand

    That Karl Rove 'accuse your opponents of your own weaknesses' thing is really being thrashed by the Nats.

    Let's hope more media folk notice so they don't get horribly embarrasssed for being repeaters, when the shit hits the fan.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    It would help immeasurably if the MSM were to decide that, PM or not, Key's "suspicions", "suggestions", and other such freshly squeezed opinions do not deserve to be treated as news. Some chance of that though.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1940 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to linger,

    He's the PM. Be grateful they don't treat his fundamental bodily functions as news! (Though I'm not entirely convinced they don't report some of them as official policy.)

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to linger,

    but he's such a nice bloke. gave me some wine for xmas. so relaxed at the barbie. what do you mean my job involves thinking?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Pete,

    You all may have your reasons for not/voting for National but when John Key used the word "learnings" twice in one recent soundbite that cemented the deal for me

    Since Apr 2008 • 106 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to linger,

    It would help immeasurably if the MSM were to decide that, PM or not, Key’s “suspicions”, “suggestions”, and other such freshly squeezed opinions do not deserve to be treated as news.

    It would also help immeasurably if Messers Key and Cunliffe learned from their UK counterparts and practised saying "no comment." There really is a great deal of wisdom in the old saw, " 'tis better to keep silent and be thought a fool..."

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    It would also help immeasurably if Messers Key and Cunliffe learned from their UK counterparts and practised saying “no comment.” There really is a great deal of wisdom in the old saw, ” ’tis better to keep silent and be thought a fool…”

    Key has the art of dismissing or changing the question mastered, but doing so would not help Cunliffe. "Why won't you answer my question David? Why?"

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Tweet last night from Gower:

    The Greens-Dotcom election deal: #Epsom #Ohariu #EastCoastBays and now… #Coatesville http://t.co/YM9OIMzszU

    And a reply from Greens press sec Clint Smith:

    @patrickgowernz mate you’ve accidentally not included bit where Russel said “Did I made any kind of assurance around that? No”. No such deal

    If Gower has floated this claim of a deal and left out an outright denial that’s the case, that’s shabby.

    Also: what on earth would the Greens have to offer in votes in a Coatesville electorate race? Seems silly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    If Gower has floated this claim of a deal and left out an outright denial that’s the case, that’s shabby.

    The outright denial is at 2:24 in the video linked to.

    Did you float a claim of shabby journalism without even watching the story about which you floated the possibility of being shabby?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3212 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    If Gower has floated this claim of a deal and left out an outright denial that’s the case, that’s shabby.

    That’s a very polite way of saying “a breech of fundamental journalistic standards.”

    Key has the art of dismissing or changing the question mastered, but doing so would not help Cunliffe. “Why won’t you answer my question David? Why?”

    George: How about this – “Well, Patrick, I’m not answering your question because by law and convention extradition requests are assessed by the responsible minister not the Prime Minister/Opposition Leader through the media. Labour/this Government thinks that’s a good thing, why don’t you?” Would that really have been so hard?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

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