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Friday, February 3, 2012

Mega Oh Oh (Part II)

Ira Rothkin - Megaupload's Counsel
If MegaUpload was supporting infringing activity on its site why didn't the copyright holders use the existing US law to request that the content on the site be removed?  Why instead was a "James Bond" like commando raid used instead?

This would be similar to the police, suspecting you have been speeding, swooping onto your property with a helicopter and snatching your car instead of simply stopping you and giving you a ticket.  Their reasoning?  You were blatantly violating the law.  (Of course, this would have yet to be proven in court, i.e., you were not convicted of speeding.)  What if your work laptop was in that car?  Or your child?

What right does the government have to do this?  Particularly when its in lieu of existing laws that are specifically designed to deal with the issue?

Existing US copyright law supports a process whereby someone who owns content and finds it on a website notifies the sites owner via what's called at "take down notice."  This is a notice to the owner of the site that the owner of the material believes that infringing material is present and formally asks the sites owner to remove it.  If the site owner does not remove it there are further legal steps: conferring with the sites lawyers, filing a civil lawsuit, and so on.

Others have noted that the sites owners knew there was infringing material on the site and hence this makes them guilty.

But consider this quote from one of the co-founders of YouTube in regard to the Viacom lawsuit filed against YouTube for similar infringement:  "Please stop putting stolen videos on the site. We’re going to have a tough time defending the fact that we’re not liable for the copyrighted material on the site because we didn’t put it up when one of the co-founders is blatantly stealing content from other sites and trying to get everyone to see it."

Yet Viacom lost its battle.

Presently the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) has taken up the cause of a MegaUpload user who used the site for legitimate purposes but now has his uploaded data seized and threatened.

Basically the letter says that the Constitutional rights of "free speech" have been trampled by the seizing and/or threatening with deletion of MegaUpload content by US law enforcement: "... include both commercial and personal materials. We also note that, in many instances, this material included protected expression under the First Amendment, which raises additional concerns. Many of these materials are property of the individuals involved, and they are legally entitled, not only to access, but to preservation and privacy."

Ars Technica offers some counter opinions by law professors here - but reading this makes it look somewhat less than clear.

For example, there is a comment that MegaUpload was in some way attempting to make a mirror of YouTube (from the Ars linked article): "The indictment also suggests that Megaupload engaged in extensive scraping of YouTube content. Grimmelmann argued that if Megaupload were creating an unauthorized mirror of the content on YouTube, this would be particularly damning."

Except YouTube is full of infringing content?

Thieves stealing stolen property from thieves???  (The questionable YouTube Neil Young video I mentioned a while back is still there (link:, for example).

There is also the question listed by the Prof's regarding "searching" and inducing people by letting them search for a video.  Yet I found mine on YouTube with a search.

Everything these prof's say about MegaUpload is exactly true about YouTube and Google as well.

Again, no one seems to think this is an issue - save for MegaUpload's US lawyer Ira Rothkin.

It seems to me that the RIAA and Hollywood are happily creating a police state.

And worse, the average idiot in the street seems perfectly happy with this.  Happy that the government "goes after" big infringers like MegaUpload.  Happy that "blessed" sites too big to fail (like YouTube) are ignored.  Happy that the same "blessed" sites serve up stolen content.

Happy that the "status quo" is kept.

How Orwellian...

No doubt history will look differently at this time than we see it ourselves today.

Hollywood and the RIAA create content to entice people to listen, to like it, to sing it to themselves while, at the very same time, preventing them from incorporating that content in any way into their lives that does not provide them profit.

Have you ever heard the expression "I can't get that song out of my head?"

Of course you have.

But in today's Orwellian society someone owns that song and even whistling it at work is a crime.

Hollywood and the RIAA are just like drug dealers.

They provide a product with people cannot resist.

Then take access away until they pay for it.

The business model is the same.  And when that model is threatened (as in the case of MegaUpload) these "owners" behave like rival drug gangs - but instead of doing the dirty work themselves they get US (tax payers and those who listen or watch to their products) to punish those who make them accessible to the "masses" without giving them profit

Certainly they could pursue these matters themselves.

But the RIAA doesn't want to do that because it makes them look bad - suing 13 year olds for "stealing" music.

So the Justice Department does it for them.

And you and I foot the bill.

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