Yesterday I wrote up a first reaction to the Megaupload case. Having spent some more time going through the indictment in much greater detail, I have some more thoughts and concerns.
First, it’s important to acknowledge that the founder of Megaupload, who goes by Kim Dotcom, has a long history of flaunting flouting the law in a variety of ways. That makes him quite unsympathetic in a court. On top of that, there are certain claims in the indictment that, if true, mean it’s quite likely that he broke the law. Whether or not the violations amount to racketeering & conspiracy is beyond any analysis that we’re going to be able to do here. I would say that I would not be at all surprised if he’s found guilty.
Where my concerns come in is in some of the “evidence” that’s used to add to the overall indictment. To be clear, in a case like this, the issue is the evidence as a whole, combined to show intent and a general pattern to actions. So the allegations in the indictment don’t necessarily mean that any individual action is, by itself, illegal. But, I still worry that some of the specific actions used to paint this picture are (1) potentially taken out of context, (2) are presented in a way that likely misrepresents the actual situation and (3) could come back to haunt other online services who are providing perfectly legitimate services.
Reading the list of items form the indictment reminded me of earlier attempts by the industry to restrict copying.
As I recall, they felt that even if the vast majority of copying on a VCR machine was legitimate, if even the least little bit was infringing then no one should be allowed to use a VCR at all.
It seems they are playing the same game here – it does not matter how many legitimate uses a service is being put to, if even person uses it for infringing purposes, then the site needs to be shut down.
The logic of much of the indict seems be to along these lines. If there is any sort of illegitimate use, then it does not matter how much of it is legitimate, it must be shut down.