1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Monday, 23 December 2013

Mega revelations may make uncomfortable reading for the Dotcom team

The defence team for Megaupload boss Kim 'Dotcom' Schmitz seem to have suffered a bit of a set back against moves extradite Dotcom to the USA to face criminal charges - as alleged new details have emerged about how the Mega system actually worked - and how those behind the platform went about their business.There again, they are only set backs if these allegations are actually true, and that has certainly not been tested or proven as yet. 

Firstly it has been argued that the Megaupload 'takedown' system, which was meant to allow owners of infringing content have their material removed, was not only ineffective - it was allegedly designed to be ineffective. The 'Abuse Tool'  was made available to U.S. copyright holders, and would purportedly remove copyright-infringing material from Mega-controlled servers. All very good and very DMCA compliant, The Abuse Tool allowed copyright holders to enter specific URL links to copyright-infringing content of which they were aware, and they were told by MegaUpload that that the Mega Conspiracy’s systems would then remove, or disable access to, the offending material. However - the Abuse Tool "did not actually function as the copyright owners were led to believe .... because the Abuse Tool only disabled the specific URL link identified, and the Abuse Tool failed to disable access to the underlying copyright-infringing material or remove the file from the server" and indeed would not disable other URL's linking to the same infringing content, even though Mega would have a list of all links to that content. So it was still there - still linked to - and still available.

Secondly,  files released by the U.S. Department of Justice,  to comply with a November order by Judge Liam O'Grady in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, show multiple conversations about the scope of copyright infringement on the site. The DOJ seized Megaupload in January 2012 and charged owner Dotcom and other defendants with criminal copyright infringement and other crimes. Here's just a few examples of alleged conversations from what has been released:

- In a May 2007 Skype conversation, Megaupload CTO Mathias Ortmann told head software developer Andrus Nomm: "I have a feeling that Kim tolerates a certain amount of copyright violation." Nomm responded "Yep, but not too obvious ones" .... "Since it helps initial growth," to which Ortmann added. "But we must not overdo it."

September 2007, via Skype: "We're modern pirates" said Bram van der Kolk, Metaupload network engineer; Ortmann responded : "We're pretty evil, unfortunately, but Google is also evil, and their claim is "don't be evil." '. To that Van der Kola added : "The world is changing, this is the internet, people will always share files and download their stuff for free, with or without Megaupload."

And finally in March 2009: "We do have legit users" Ortmann said. Van der Kolk responded "Yes, but that's not what we make $ with."

At the end of August Kim Dotcom has resigned as managing director of the cloud hosting company to channel his energies into fighting extradition to the United States, as well as launching a music service, MegaBox, and political party. The party will be launched at a "big event" on 20 January 2014, although John Key, New Zealand's prime minister, said that the new party should be called the "No Hope Party".

Background on the 1709 blog here and here and here.

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