Remember earlier this year when the New Zealand government and the US government conspired to send a SWAT team to arrest Kim Dotcom, founder of Megaupload, shut down the service, make 220 people unemployed, seize Dotcom's assets, and deprive millions of users of access to their files? Well now a US judge says that the trial against Dotcom will probably never proceed, because the US government didn't ever formally charge Dotcom. This wasn't a mere oversight, either. They were not legally allowed to charge him. TorrentFreak reports:
“I frankly don’t know that we are ever going to have a trial in this matter,” Judge O’Grady said as reported by the NZ Herald.
Judge O’Grady informed the FBI that Megaupload was never served with criminal charges, which is a requirement to start the trial. The origin of this problem is not merely a matter of oversight. Megaupload’s lawyer Ira Rothken says that unlike people, companies can’t be served outside US jurisdiction.
“My understanding as to why they haven’t done that is because they can’t. We don’t believe Megaupload can be served in a criminal matter because it is not located within the jurisdiction of the United States,” Rothken says.
Megaupload’s lawyer adds that he doesn’t understand why the US authorities weren’t aware of this problem before. As a result Judge O’Grady noted that Megaupload is “kind of hanging out there.”
TorrentFreak followed up their coverage with a furious interview with Dotcom:
If Judge O’Grady is to be believed all this damage could very well have been for nothing because the authorities simply can’t serve foreign companies. This could lead one to wonder whether the whole setup was to simply destroy Mega’s businesses.
This is certainly a theory Dotcom subscribes to, and it’s not the only dirty trick Megaupload’s founder believes the US Government is playing. The US is structurally denying Megaupload the chance to put up a fair fight.
“We are refused access to the evidence that clears us, we are refused funds to pay our lawyers, we are refused to pick the lawyers we want to represent us and have any chance for a fair trial,” Dotcom says.
For Megaupload the worst part is that the damage can’t be undone. The site has been completely destroyed as well as the plans to become a publicly traded company.
“We have already been served a death sentence without trial and even if we are found ‘not guilty’ which we will, the damage can never be repaired,” Dotcom says.
Nat sez, "You're on a racing yacht, 650 miles from the finish line of the fifth leg of an around-the-world race. Your mast breaks, you send a team member up to cut free the sail. He slashes at the rigging but also himself, and blood drips down the mast. He comes down white with blood loss and with a massive wound. What do you do? 'After talking to our team doctor we decided to staple him together. We took out the staple gun and put five staples in him and now he's as good as new, I think.' Nope, that's not what I would have reached for either. I wonder whether the team doctor is also the ship's carpenter?"
Groupama completed leg 5 last night with 20 points for third place, ensuring they remain in contention for the overall prize.
The French boat leapfrogged leg 5 winners Puma into second place overall, 20 points behind Telefonica, who are facing a hearing into allegations they carried an extra sail on leg 4 into Auckland.
Here's the utterly inconsequential recording that resulted in NZ PM John Key ordering raids on the free press
Juha Saarinen sez,
New Zealand media were raided by police last November just before the general election, after the incumbent centre-right Prime Minister John Key made a criminal complaint over a recording of a conversation in a cafe between him and far right-wing politician John Banks during a staged media event. The country's biggest broadcasters and newspaper were raided by police, who requested unpublished material and sources for interviews as well as the recording itself. Radio New Zealand covered the "Teapot Tapes" scandal and was raided too even though it didn't have a copy of the recording.
The recording has now leaked out onto the Internet. It reveals little of consequence, but police are continuing the investigation and are seeking witnesses who were in the cafe at the time. Police are also warning people that disclosing private conversations unlawfully intercepted can be punished by up to two years' in jail. PM Key is aware the recording is now online, but has told National Business Review that he won't seek to remove it from YouTube and other sites.
Meanwhile, Bradley Ambrose, the cameraman who recorded the conversation - accidentally he says - has been issued with a NZ$14,000 demand for legal costs by the NZ government. If convicted, he could be sent to prison for up to two years. Ambrose had given a copy of the recording to the New Zealand Herald who in turn asked Key for permission to publish it. Before this week's Internet leak, the recording has never been made public.
Key's National party won the election.
New Zealand biologists believe that honeybees can sense the faint floral odor on the breath of people infected with tuberculosis, and are trying to find a way to train bees to help them diagnose TB:
“When we tested them with the tuberculosis odours we found the bees can still smell it down to parts per billion,” says Max Suckling.
Christchurch zoologists are training bees to associate the smell of the disease with a sweet treat and to stick out their tongues when it's present.
Worldwide new TB infections occur at a rate of one per second. Right now it's diagnosed medically by expensive tests and with the disease being most common in poverty stricken areas, using bees instead could make a real difference.
New Zealand Prime Minister sends police to raid major news outlets over covert recording of negotiations with far-right party
The Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, is angry that a conversation between him and a rightwing candidate for Parliament was recorded by a cameraman - so angry that he's reported the matter to the police which is now going to raid TVNZ, Radio NZ, TV3 and another, unnamed media organisation.
Key set up a stage-managed meeting between him and John Banks from the rightwing ACT Party, with media in attendance. The meeting over a cup of tea was to discuss the candidate from Key's centre-right National Party folding in the wealthy electorate of Epsom, Auckland, in favour of Banks. National needs Banks to win Epsom, to form a coalition with ACT.
A cameraman was stopped from retrieving his microphone that he'd left on Key and Banks' table while media was allowed inside the cafe where the meeting took place, and says he recorded the "private" conversation inadvertently. The recording itself hasn't been published by anyone yet. Key and National has refused to give permission to publish the recording, but say it was "bland". In NZ, it's a crime to record other people without their knowledge.
I'm somewhat ambivalent about covert recording, but it seems clear that this isn't merely about investigating the act of recording, or punishing someone who broke the law. This feels like a campaign of intimidation against the institution of the press itself, whose subtext is, "Cover politics with kid gloves or we will make your lives hell." Meanwhile, Key has defended his use of police time by saying his government has done so much to eliminate crime that the police have spare time they can use to pursue his vendettas.
"Like Parliament, schools, libraries and universities run the risk of fines or disconnection. Unitec in Auckland has even said they might cease providing internet services for students due to possible copyright liability," said Mr Hughes.This is the copyright law that NZ's cynical media lobbyists rushed through as part of the Christchurch earthquake emergency legislation, using victims of awful tragedy as human shields in their quest to have the ultimate say over who may and may not use the Internet.
"The Government has a responsibility to ensure that public institutions can navigate around the new law and not run the risk of fines or disconnection.
"By not providing information or advice and relying on InternetNZ, Internet Service Providers, and the media, Mr Power has left schools and universities in a legal grey area."
The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act was passed through Parliament under urgency earlier this year. Only the Green Party opposed the passage of the law.
1. Presumed guilty on accusation13 reasons why the Infringing File Sharing Act is bad for you by Christopher Wood (Thanks, Juha!)
Despite the revision committee trying to fudge the issue, this law does work via the presumption of guilt. If the accused party has had their 3 warnings and goes to the Copyright Tribunal, they have to give reasons why the warnings were invalid. But if the accused party is innocent, what reasons can they have, apart from "I didn't do it"?
Presumption of guilt is rife for abuse, as has happened overseas under similar laws. In the digital realm evidence is often very temporary, complex, and easily fabricated, so providing evidence of your innocence could be very difficult, depending on how much is required. Providing evidence of your guilt is almost as difficult, but why should that mean an advantage should be given to accusers? New Zealand intellectual property lawyer Rick Shera says the law is grossly unfair, out of place and unnecessary in this analysis: http://lawgeeknz.posterous.com/nzs-copyright-proposal-guilty-until-you-prove When a new law contradicts the Bill of Rights it better have an extremely good reason... and protecting the entertainment industry isn't one.
Wikileaks: America will foot the bill for record company enforcement in NZ if NZ will let America write its laws
The project's performance will be judged by specific milestones, including increases in the number of enforcement operations and seizures, with percentages or numerical targets re-set annually. The unit also will be measured by the number of reports it submits to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) on its contributions to IP protection and enforcement methodology.Wikileaks on New Zealand Copyright: US Funds IP Enforcement, Offers to Draft Legislation
The proposed budget included four salaried positions, legal costs for investigation and prosecution, and training programs. The RIANZ still runs an anti-piracy site, but does not include disclosure about the source of funding. It certainly raises the question of whether New Zealand is aware that local enforcement initiatives have been funded by the U.S. government
A reader writes, "In a beautiful twist of irony, New Zealand parliament member Melissa Lee has been caught in a copyright quagmire. It turns out that just hours before she spoke out in support of the controversial new copyright law being rushed through parliament, she tweeted how pleased she was with a compilation of K-Pop songs a friend copied for her."
Surprised by the call-out, Lee defended herself by saying that the songs were downloaded legally and paid for. But unfortunately for her that doesn't mean much. As the National Business Review points out, when a friend makes a copy of songs that were legally bought, the recipient of the 'gift' is still guilty of copyright infringement.Kiwi MP Called Out As Pirate After Passing Anti-Piracy Law
So it appears that Lee got her first strike already, and since the burden of proof is on the alleged infringer under the new legislation, it's up to her to prove that she's innocent. That's only fair, right?
Although it's easy to call Lee's mistake out as hypocrisy, it might be even worse than that. What if she truly believes that copying a legally bought song for a friend is okay? That would mean that even legislators who vote on copyright legislation don't fully grasp what they're doing.
Juha sez, "Disconnections under the new copyright law in New Zealand can in fact be activated any time after September 1 when the Act comes into force. This would happen if the notice-and-notice regime where rights holders can take infringers to the Copyright Tribunal is deemed not to be working. IP lawyers I've talked to expect the regime to fail due to the sheer volume of notices and cases, as per overseas experience. The Copyright Tribunal will be staffed by five IP lawyers. At this stage, we don't know if the government will allow public consultation and submissions, should it decide to activate the Internet Termination Penalty in the new law. It's not mentioned in the new Copyright Act. The review after two years is to see if mobile data connections should be subject to the new copyright act as well."
The majority of us recommend the new section 122PA, which would effect what we believe a workable compromise on this issue. The bill's provisions allowing for Internet suspension would be retained, with modifications, but would not be brought into effect immediately. If evidence indicated that notices alone (and the remedy through the Copyright Tribunal) were not having the desired deterrent effect, the suspension provisions could be activated by Order in Council. The majority of us believe this approach would create the right incentives, with the remedy of suspension able to be brought into effect if needed. We would expect an appropriate timetable for monitoring and review to be developed in consultation with rights holders. We note that a similar approach was recently adopted in the United Kingdom.Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill 119-2 (2010), Government Bill (Thanks, Juha!)
New Zealand to sneak in Internet disconnection copyright law with Christchurch quake emergency legislation
Using the tragedy in Christchurch as a means to advance the corporate agenda of offshore entertainment giants is shameful, to say the least. It's hard to imagine the depravity at work in the mind of the big content lobbyist who decided that hitching a ride on emergency legislation to address the horrific consequences of the Christchurch quake was a good idea.
The House is currently in urgency to pass Christchurch earthquake recovery measures. But a spokesman for Simon Power, who sponsors the bill, confirmed other legislation would also be rushed through.Law to fight internet piracy rushed through
Green MP Gareth Hughes is opposed to any restriction of access to the web.
He was unaware the bill was coming up today and will move an amendment calling for the clause to be removed.
''It really surprised me because we haven't debated it since November,'' he said.
After a select committee heard overwhelming opposition to cutting off the internet the legislation was revised.
The penalty remains but can only be brought into force by the minister by an order in council.
The Government will oppose Hughes amendment, Power said.
He is in pristine condition (just a little bit of concrete dust). Suitable for garden feature, or as in our case a magnificent addition to your living area.Landscape Rocks for Sale in ChCh (Thanks, Aeon, via Submitterator!)
Rocky will enhance your "indoor outdoor" flow considerably, especially if you load him in through the garage roof like we did.
Sorry, but we are unable to deliver Rocky but would be happy for you to pick him up and roll him away (please mind our neighbours when you do) :-)
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