Oram not drinking the kool aid

January 27th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Nice to see is avoiding the kool aid that so many others are lapping up. Oram writes in the SST:

Dangerously for us, however, has plunged into this gap. The man and his business models are the absolute antithesis of what the internet and this country need.

He dangles a glittering prospect others have offered before: he says we could generate jobs, wealth and taxes if we turned ourselves into one of the world’s great data storage sites. After all, we have abundant, cheap and renewable electricity to power the servers. All we’d need is bigger cables to connect us with the world and a change of laws to make us the Switzerland of data secrecy.

He claims his new services, if they were based here, would within three years generate more traffic than the rest of NZ online activity combined. But everything is wrong about this proposition, from the economics to the practicality and morality.

A harsh statement. Does Oram back it up?

Mega has one main difference: all data on it will be encrypted automatically as users load their files. Mega’s owner and staff, not to mention governments and copyright holders, won’t be able to check what might be pirated. …

He is also causing trouble for himself by getting offside with some in the international tech community. Within days of Mega’s launch, encryption experts exposed numerous weaknesses in its systems.

Were these given as much publicity as Wheedle’s?

In coming months he will launch his next service, Megabox, for music. Users will either pay for downloads or agree to download Mega software. This will displace ads on other websites with ads on which Mega will collect revenues. Either way, Dotcom says, artists will get money for their music. Google will certainly test the practicality and ethicality of this, since Dotcom is targeting 10 per cent of its ad revenues. He will find it, and other ad services, formidable enemies.

Russell Brown has blogged on this here. He basically labels it as stealing from publishers such as himself.

Oram continues:

Even if these businesses were successful, Dotcom’s claims that he can create significant economic value for New Zealand are pure fantasy. Data storage of the type Dotcom peddles is a commodity business with wafer-thin margins and minimal value generation, in either jobs or other activity.

So Dotcom would never invest in server farms here. Even if we offered him fabulous connectivity at dirt-cheap prices he would do as he does now – scour the world for the cheapest storage he can rent from others. We would always be underbid.

Worse, we have become deeply entangled in Dotcom’s legal problems. Our Government’s stupid decision to give him residence here, and its incompetent surveillance and arrest of him, is dragging it and the country ever deeper into Dotcom’s murky world.

We will find it very hard to get rid of Dotcom. If he wins his case against extradition to the US he will be too scared to travel abroad for fear the US will have another go at him. If he loses his case, appeals and delays will drag on for what will seem like eternity.

Meanwhile, he clearly loves life here as he plays the role of internet hero to local and global audiences. New Zealand’s reputation can weather this. Every country has its share of such comic fantasists.

Anyone with a bit of sense knows true internet pioneers brilliantly devise and deliver valuable services for others, as have the founders of companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook; or fight heroically for principles, as Aaron Swartz did – as his recent obituary in The Economist testifies.

While many in our internet community can spot the difference, some of them are far too enamoured of Dotcom for their own good or the country’s. They acknowledge his fatal flaws but think he can help fast-forward New Zealand’s internet development.

We have a lot of things to offer the internet, including integrity. But hosting Dotcom is not one.

Nice to see some critical analysis.

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18 Responses to “Oram not drinking the kool aid”

  1. Redbaiter (7,640 comments) says:

    Jesus DPF, Oram is known as a hard left commentator. Doesn’t this give you reason to think about the National Party’s stance on this?

    The raid was illegal.

    The spying was illegal.

    It was done to appease Obama and his Hollywood donors. A disgraceful motivation.

    Really, the Nats have to turn back from the leftward fork that John Key has taken them down.

    The law is the law. Dotcom may be an objectionable personality to some, but all of us deserve fair treatment under the law and he has not been given that judicial right.

    The same applies to his business ideas. If they are not illegal why stop them?

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  2. Dean Papa (743 comments) says:

    and of course, when Dotcom threatened to take his money elsewhere his residency application was expedited.

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  3. SPC (5,396 comments) says:

    Freedom and corporate cartels – New Zealand and Hollywood in this instance – are often in conflict redbaiter.

    While Oram makes valid points, the positive is that this sort of market presence here does drive interest in expanding broadband supply – a second cable – that the government has shown no interest in catering for, despite its willingness to lead/organise domestic investment.

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  4. SPC (5,396 comments) says:

    On the second point has anyone noticed how, because of increased competition into Oz, the international cable prices fell and we are to also benefit from this (lower prices might deter an investment in a second cable).

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  5. labrator (1,750 comments) says:

    Were these given as much publicity as Wheedle’s?

    Considering they were nothing like Wheedle’s problems they rightfully weren’t.

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  6. Viking2 (11,146 comments) says:

    While Oram makes valid points, the positive is that this sort of market presence here does drive interest in expanding broadband supply – a second cable – that the government has shown no interest in catering for, despite its willingness to lead/organise domestic investment.

    Excuse me.
    That their mates the yanks stopped.
    Lets be frank the yanks bullied everyone involved in the cable. Just as they hauwai.

    Oram is a troll, wants the Govt. to intervene in everything. And patently doesn’t give a shit about other peoples property rights nor bothering to dismenate the truth. Just a lying repeater like so many of his kind. Fucking socialists.

    I detest useless people who never invest a cent in doing anything remarkable and who sit and whinge when someone else does. Oram fits that bill.

    Who has the most money and has made a difference in this world. Not Oram.

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  7. Keeping Stock (10,108 comments) says:

    Viking 2 said

    Oram is a troll, wants the Govt. to intervene in everything. And patently doesn’t give a shit about other peoples property rights nor bothering to dismenate the truth. Just a lying repeater like so many of his kind. Fucking socialists.

    No V2; it’s Dotcom who “patently doesn’t give a shit about other peoples property rights”, by running a business that paid people to steal other people’s work, and deprive them of income so that Dotcom and his cronies could on-sell it and make a killing.

    I very seldom agree with anything that Rod Oram says, but he can see that Dotcom’s business model is fundamentally dishonest. Full marks to him for going into print.

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  8. justinian (21 comments) says:

    I may have it wrong but the subtext to Oram’s piece on Dotcom is that he is involved in copyright infringement or outright piracy. These allegations have yet to be proven, and gives us an interesting insight into Orams approach to the presumption of innocence.

    [DPF: I didn't quite read it like that. Personally I can't conclude if how Dotcom operated Megaupload did breach US copyright laws. My view is that he certainly based his business model on making money from copyrighted files - but, and this is a big but, he may have done it legally. His history is pushing the law to its bounds - and sometimes beyond. In this case he may have stayed just within the law, or may have stepped over. That will be for a trial to determine, if of course the threshold for extradition is made.

    But regardless of legality, I think it is quite reasonable to take a position against a product such as the proposed ad substitution product, on the grounds it is bad for publishers.]

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  9. tristanb (1,133 comments) says:

    @KS
    He runs a website you can upload things to. So what? So does Google. It is not stealing, it is copying. If the music business can’t exist without constant new laws to protect them from citizens, it shouldn’t exist.

    It’s disgusting that so many people here want the government to be able to control what data we transfer to others.

    Oram hates him because he is a successful business man – that’s Oram’s business who he hates, but it seems pathetic.

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  10. Viking2 (11,146 comments) says:

    Oh KS. you still don’t get it do ya.

    And yep justinian, you are quite correct. We only have KS and a few others like him that fall for the yankee line.
    Still they rooted themselves in the end for encription will become the norm before long and that too will develop.

    Hollywood will either smarten its act and sell its realestate or die.

    Question for KS.
    What would happen if we could all order up our hamburgers online delivered on line from the hamburger joints around.
    Do you think Macdonalds would bury their heads in their real estate company and refuse to play or would they move smartly to keep up with the play?

    or Do you think any bank in NZ would survive the old traditional model of a branch without online banking. Or do you think they would get their shit together pronto and get online.

    Do you thnik Telecom would be surviving today if it still isde dial phones as its instruments of techknology?

    And what is the difference between dotcom’s mega upload and say youtube where plenty is to be found, google ditto, yahoo and so on?

    I guess you will have an excuse for all them and others like them. Except that apart from google and utube they weren’t in the top 10 alexa rankings.

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  11. Keeping Stock (10,108 comments) says:

    I think I’ll pass on the online hamburger thanks Viking; sounds a bit plasticy. Might not have been the best analogy.

    And the difference between Mega and Youtube? Youtube doesn’t charge users to access content.

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  12. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    We have a lot of things to offer the internet, including integrity. But hosting Dotcom is not one.

    Who does ‘we’ refer to? Does Oram want the government to intervene in the business of NZ citizens… because he doesn’t like the nature of that business?

    KS – The difference you cite isn’t relevant. Mega has a fee-for-service business model, and Youtube has an advertising business model. They both generate income.

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  13. Brian Griffin (22 comments) says:

    Kim Dotcom seems to be a private citizen going about lawful business, and as such it is our obligation as right-wing extremists to support him. It is saddening that Mr Key seems to have been stooping to (sorry) performing fellatio on the Americans in order to secure jobs and create local investment, and that he has been prepared to “bend” our laws a little to accomodate their needs.

    Dotcom is a new breed of businessman bringing a forward-thinking model to New Zealand, and bloody Oram just can’t – or won’t – see it. Mr Key will eventually realise that we need people with vision and capital to create growth and for the trickle-down effect to bring prosperity to all, not just the elite that is presently becoming more and more a distant part of New Zealand reality.

    Anyone who wants a clearer – but possibly biased – picture of Dotcom can access a very well-written article here, on Wired Magazine. http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/10/ff-kim-dotcom/ and if you want a view from his legal camp, check this out:
    http://goo.gl/vb9BH

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  14. boredboy (250 comments) says:

    “Kim Dotcom seems to be a private citizen going about lawful business,”

    Jury’s still out on that.

    “Dotcom is a new breed of businessman bringing a forward-thinking model to New Zealand,”

    Kim Dotcom is a criminal. In Germany, he has been convicted of 11 counts of computer fraud, 10 counts of data espionage, and an assortment of other charges including accepting gang-related stolen goods. He has also been involved with insider trading. He is not a new breed of businessman, he is a convicted embezzler and fraudster.

    Certainly things need to change around how content is distributed and sure we need better internet infrastructure but Kimble “Kim” Schmitz is not the man to lead it.

    It doesn’t matter how appealing he is, how intelligent he is or what have you. The fact is he has a track record going back into his teenage years of criminal behaviour and continues to be pursued by authorities who allege further criminal undertakings. If he gets off this it will be due to a technicality.

    Would any of you hire someone who has this sort of track record? Particularly to run areas of your business that you don’t really have that much understanding of? A man who is a convicted embezzler and fraudster and applied that same specialist knowledge in order to carry out those crimes?

    Get off the grass!

    If you think we have to rely on someone like him to carry out the operations proposed, we are in a more dire state than I thought.

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  15. V (668 comments) says:

    @boredboy

    Oh FFS he dialled up a PBX phone system and entered the default passwords and cracked an algorithm generating phone-card numbers, as a teenager. Hardly crime of the century. You might even congratulate him for turning things around.

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  16. Brian Griffin (22 comments) says:

    Yep – V gets it in one. Probably bothered to do his homework, those links I posted are worth the read. Sounds like someone (BB) just sucks up the Kool Aid.

    Get off the Grass indeed. Get off the meth, Steph!

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  17. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    Does anyone know why Dotcom is banned from entering Thailand?

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  18. itstricky (1,577 comments) says:

    Oh FFS he dialled up a PBX phone system and entered the default passwords and cracked an algorithm generating phone-card numbers, as a teenager. Hardly crime of the century.

    Errr, so that would be a convicted crime then. (notice – full stop at the end) -: crime (full stop)

    You might even congratulate him for turning things around.

    So that was a convicted crime then. Crime (full stop)

    Crackers have been playing that game for a decade. It’s the same thing as “I wouldn’t download it illegally if it was cheaper”. It’s still a crime (full stop). And if anyone other than Dotcom had done it you’d be warrring on about how illegal it was.

    The guy didn’t make his millions selling lollipops.

    Brian, the link you sent is from Wired. Wired loves talking up the digital world and “digital warriors”. Although not biased, they will paint him to be the new messiah because that’s what their audience like reading about.

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