I’m in an area with very limited phone and Internet access, so I heard about the arrests yesterday, but couldn’t blog on them.
I’m reserving judgement on the issue, until details of the alleged offences are known more fully. I would make the point that to my mind there has always been a significant difference between someone who accesses a file-sharing site or torrent in order to (for example) see the latest episode of a TV show not available in NZ, and those who are commercially making money from infringing copyright, or assisting others to infringe.
Whether or not Dotcom and others have broken the law, will of course be a matter for the courts. It is worth noting that the NZ courts will not extradite unless the charges are for something that is also an offence under NZ law. So if for example there was an arrest warrant out for you because you took part in (adult consensual) oral sex in Utah, they would not extradite as thankfully oral sex is not illegal in NZ. Not sure if it still is illegal in Utah, to be honest – just using this as an example.
I’ve been saying for sometime that copyright issues will be a massive battle involving the Internet for the next decade or more.
In this case the US are not necessairly on the wrong side of the argument. I’m not saying their actions are justified either – it really depends on the details of the case. But few would argue that making money out of infringing other people’s copyright is a good thing (if that is what they have done). There is an argument they were just providing a service that “pirates” used. Again, will depend on what is revealed in court.
In other copyright news (and no I don’t think the timing is deliberately related), it looks like the SOPA and PIPA bills in the US Congress are dead. Senators have been dropping their co-sponsorship of PIPA as millions of Americans signed an online petitions and e-mailed their representatives on it.
Also of note is all the remaining Republican candidates for President have come out against the bills. So chalk this victory up to people power.