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There has been much in the news the past few days on the take-down of Megaupload.

The US government dropped a nuclear bomb on "cyberlocker" site Megaupload today, seizing its domain names, grabbing $50 million in assets, and getting New Zealand police to arrest four of the site's key employees, including enigmatic founder Kim Dotcom. In a 72-page indictment unsealed in a Virginia federal court, prosecutors charged that the site earned more than $175 million since its founding in 2005, most of it based on copyright infringement.

As for the site's employees, they were paid lavishly and they spent lavishly. Even the graphic designer, 35-year-old Slovakian resident Julius Bencko, made more than $1 million in 2010 alone.

The indictment goes after six individuals, who between them owned 14 Mercedes-Benz automobiles with license plates such as "POLICE," "MAFIA," "V," "STONED," "CEO," "HACKER," GOOD," "EVIL," and—perhaps presciently—"GUILTY." The group also had a 2010 Maserati, a 2008 Rolls-Royce, and a 1989 Lamborghini. They had not one but three Samsung 83" TVs, and two Sharp 108" TVs. Someone owned a "Predator statue." Motor bikes, jet skis, artwork, and even 60 Dell servers could all be forfeit to the government if it can prove its case against the members of the "Mega Conspiracy."

The case is a major one, involving international cooperation between the US, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Canada, and the Philippines. In addition to the arrests, 20 search warrants were executed today in multiple countries.

Why the Feds Smashed Megaupload

This came at a time when millions of Internet user and thousands of Internet companies, many major entities such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Wikipedia, had just executed a 24 hour protest against the SOPA / PIPA bills under consideration in the House and Senate. Those bills came under intense criticism primarily because they contained legislation that would try to enforce how the underlying technologies of the Net, especially DNS, the domain naming system, work, and corrupt it; they would destroy the concept of due process through judicial review and create a power of accusation and enforcement by the corporate oligarchy; and they would create law that would be a major steeping stone to massive censorship of free expression on the Internet.

Many thoughtful commentators on these issues, who were pretty much universally opposed to SOPA / PIPA, criticized the Megaload take-down. A prime example by a consistently thoughtful commentator on Internet Privacy and Network Neutrality wrote on the isuse here: The Megaupload Mega-Mess: When Innocents Are Crushed Their criticism actually related to the criticisms of SOPA / PIPA, and focused on the fact that not all users of Megaupload were committing criminal acts. But because of the total shutdown of the site, legitimate users suddenly found themselves cut off from their files which they were storing on the site's servers and domain.

It seems pretty clear the guys running Megaupload were major criminals. Just read the news reports about the literally millions of dollars they were sucking in, and look at the pictures of their mansion, the luxury cars, the whole nine yards. The news is chock full of screen shots of what are clearly contemporary major movies that have been pirated and are being sold for download on the site. That there was major criminal activity and theft of IP by this site hardly seems in doubt.

The bad part of this action remains, though, and that is that those users of the site who were NOT committing crimes were caught up in the action, and lost access to their files.

There is moment to add to the discussion of these issues here, I think, an opportunity to make a very strong point against the current SOPA / PIPA legislation.

Namely, the Megaupload action was taken under existing law, using existing due process, warrants, and investigative procedures.

It is for that reason an illustration of precisely why the SOPA / PIPA overarching legislation is so dangerous. It would obviate and bypass the law, pretty much, and put power of investigation, accusation, and shut-down totally in the hands of the corporate oligarchy, simply bypassing due process and the judicial review process completely.

If any legislation is needed, it is just legislation to reinforce that all such actions must follow the existing legal process, and that further, guidelines and procedures need to be put in place to insure that innocent users, domains, whatever, are not brought down in the process of bringing down the real criminals. Which is precisely what SOPA / PIPA would do, with its insane dabbling in the DNS system. What we don't need is legislation by idiots in Congress who have no frickin' idea how the technology works legislating how to use it.

Anyway, just my thoughts. Yes, piracy and copyright violation is a problem. No, we do not need stupid laws passed by bought and paid for scum like Sen. Dodd, whose motto right now seems to be "once bought, always bought" by MPAA.

What we need is funding for staff in the government enforcement agencies to monitor and followup and enforce existing law.

Oh, and we also did not need the copyright length extensions beyond the lifetimes of the creators. They are destroying, well, have destroyed, the whole point of copyright, which was reserving benefits to the author during their lifetime. Oh, I forgot. Corporations are now people. So next up we will probably see Congress trying to pass eternal copyright for corporation's ownership of the intellectual properties they have acquired from individuals.

Somehow I now feel even worse for having thought this through logically to that point.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.” --Yogi Berra

    by HeartlandLiberal on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 05:15:48 AM PST

  •  Megaupload (7+ / 0-)

    So, these assets were seized because the perpetrators were found guilty in a trial, right?




    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 05:18:16 AM PST

    •  Who needs trials or evidence? (6+ / 0-)

      They didn't get slave wage jobs with the pre-approved companies! They probably didn't even go to college! This is America, and clearly when entrepreneurs are successful working outside of the box they must be criminal scum.

      And just look at these alleged license plates! It sounds like something those rappers would have, and we all know what color those people are. Clearly good moral people can only conclude based purely on dislike for their lifestyle choices that they're guilty. I mean, what is this, Sweden, since when do we need evidence to lynch people?

      Next you'll be saying we need to close down Guantanamo Bay!

      (-7.62, -6.31), Blood type "O", Democratic-socialist, social anarchist, KY-01, "When smashing monuments, save the pedestals. They always come in handy." — Stanisław Lem

      by Setsuna Mudo on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 06:14:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Since when (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeartlandLiberal, izzitgd

      is a conviction needed to collect evidence?  This is no different than impounding a car that has a couple kilos of heroin in the trunk.

  •  Property seizures are routine in raids. Moreover, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OnlyWords, Niniane

    I have a lawyer friend who deals specifically with trademark infringement cases. She has actually been through raids that bring many lawyers handing out warrants and other documents. I can't remember where I saw the New Zealand broadcast where they mentioned legal warrants.

    So say we all! Battlestar Galactica (re-imagined version)

    by nerve on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 05:46:16 AM PST

  •  Glenn Greenwald wrote a good article on this: (6+ / 0-)
    •  fuck Glenn Greenwald (0+ / 0-)

      I read that article and lost IQ points doing so

      •  Your careful analysis is much appreciated. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brown Thrasher, Hayate Yagami, debedb

        You are to be commended for sounding like a complete arsewipe without even making a case against Greenwald.  I am awaiting your insightful reply with eager anticipation.  What did you disagree with in his article?  Or is it just a general hatred for this great media critic, and constitutional expert who has exposed your favorite president as a war monger hypocrite who will trample our constitutional rights whenever it pleases him?  Perhaps you do not like to hear the truth about our "secret" drone wars?  Indefinite detention without trial?  Obama's targeting of American citizens for death without trial?  Yeah, that must be it.


        •  ok... here it comes (0+ / 0-)

          His analysis here:

          the very power they feared the most in that bill — the power of the U.S. Government to seize and shut down websites based solely on accusations, with no trial — is a power the U.S. Government already possesses

          Tells me that he doesn't even know the purpose of SOPA or PIPA. Yes, they already possess this power when the perpetrators are residents/citizens of existing treaties that allow it. If Kim Dotcom was in a non-treaty country, they had no recourse - so Glenn is talking out of his ass.

          More absurdity here:

          the U.S. Justice Department not only indicted the owners of one of the world’s largest websites, the file-sharing site Megaupload, but also seized and shut down that site, and also seized or froze millions of dollars of its assets — all based on the unproved accusations, set forth in an indictment, that the site deliberately aided copyright infringement.

          Just as in cases where the government arrests someone for a drug case, money laundering, investment fraud, etc etc. They ALWAYS seize assets that they later have to prove were the fruits of the crime they are charging the defendant with. It is common sense because non-seizure would allow the defendant to use those resources for his/her defense or to hide them away. In the case that the government cannot prove guilt... all of those assets will be returned. Since you claim that Glenn Greenwald is a "constitutional expert", he should already know this and it has nothing to do with "unrestrained government power".

          This cute little anecdote is a logical fallacy as noted:

          Congratulations, citizens, on your cute little “democracy” victory in denying us the power to shut down websites without a trial: we’re now going to shut down one of your most popular websites without a trial.

          If someone steals your car and it is later discovered at a chop shop, wouldn't you want the police to recover your car and close the chop shop? Should the criminal be continued to operate a chop shop just because it's a front that also services customers vehicles in a legal manner?

          This assumption that websites shouldn't be closed during the indictment process is ridiculous on it's face and the people who are claiming that these actions somehow violate someones right to due process is stupid. The government hasn't taken permanent possession of yet... it is being held as evidence, essentially. They do the same thing for any business that has been used to facilitate a crime.

          He continues his logical fallacy and adds a heap of hyperbole:

          Whatever else is true, those issues should be decided upon a full trial in a court of law, not by government decree. Especially when it comes to Draconian government punishments — destroying businesses, shutting down websites, imprisoning people for life, assassinating them — what distinguishes a tyrannical society from a free one is whether the government is first required to prove guilt in a fair, adversarial proceeding.

          As I explained above, due process is given to Kim Dotcom and his conspirators. If they are proven innocent... their property will be returned and they will have civil remedies at their disposal.

          Now, your NDAA rant is another example of this same failed logic. The "indefinite detention" applies to people who are determined to be a substantial threat to the security of the nation because they have demonstrated the desire to use, contributed to the use of or have executed the use of military force against the US. The rights and protections of the constitution DO NOT APPLY to military personnel and never have.

          •  How is he talking out his ass... (0+ / 0-)

            you have not contradicted what he said here:

            the very power they feared the most in that bill — the power of the U.S. Government to seize and shut down websites based solely on accusations, with no trial — is a power the U.S. Government already possesses

            He did not say they had this power in every country which is what you appear to be implying.

            People arrested for drug use are often victims in the same way.  They get their property taken away without trial as you mentioned... this is also wrong.  Not something to hold up as a good argument, unless you are arguing the justice dept. is doing the right thing when they go straight to punishment before trial by taking people's homes away from them for growing pot.  In your weak chop shop analogy, a stolen car is a very different thing. It is very easy to immediately determine the legal owner of a car... takes about 5 minutes.

            Now, your NDAA rant is another example of this same failed logic. The "indefinite detention" applies to people who are determined to be a substantial threat to the security of the nation because they have demonstrated the desire to use, contributed to the use of or have executed the use of military force against the US. The rights and protections of the constitution DO NOT APPLY to military personnel and never have.

            Determined by whom? Who says they are military personnel? But really, even if there was transparency as to who was doing the determining, this is obviously unconstitutional and un-American to boot.

            It sounds like you enjoy authoritarian rule.  Good for you.  We are well on our way.  Enjoy.


            •  It has been this way for decades (0+ / 0-)

              you are only now realizing it, I guess.

              The disconnect is a basic understanding of criminal law.

              •  It has been getting worse for decades and your (0+ / 0-)

                guy is part of the problem.  And yes, he used to be my guy too, but I got off the fucked up Obama train a while ago... about the time I realized he was a wall street stooge and a war monger who doesn't give a shit about due process or fundamental fairness.


                •  I live in reality (0+ / 0-)

                  it seems that you live in a utopian fantasy world.

                  •  Wow, you are good, I have never come up against (0+ / 0-)

                    such a brilliant debater.  Your shit got knocked over like a house of cards, and your comeback is straight out of grade school... albeit with much more flowery phrases.  I'm very impressed.  Let me give it a try... neener-neener .... well shit, I'm just not as good at it as you are.  Carry on!


                    •  The funny thing (0+ / 0-)

                      that I have found is that people like you, who base their "debate" on ideology over reality, are never able to understand a different point of view than their own.

                      It is the same problem that Republicans have.
                      It is the same problem that Creationists have.
                      It is the same problem that Pro-Lifers have.
                      etc, etc, etc

                      •  Perfect, and par for the course! (0+ / 0-)

                        Don't have the facts, so you equate me with folks we both can't stand.  People like me?  Funny.

                        I base my debate on facts that are inconvenient for those who are still Obama supporters. A few years ago many of these same folks were vehemently against the same policies he is now neck deep in.  Must be tough ignoring the facts about your hero... but not nearly as tough as the harsh reality of his betrayal... at least for all decent thinking people who find actual policy more important than pathetic partisan politics.


                        •  facts (0+ / 0-)

                          President Obama has done what he can do while dealing with an intransigent Congress... did you miss that part maybe?

                          •  No, I did not miss that part. (0+ / 0-)

                            Did congress make him expand the drone wars, murder US citizens, and surround himself with wall street pirates?  Did they make him split up more immigrant families than Bush ever did?  Did they make him continue the stupid war on drugs? Blaming the obviously ignorant and evil republicans for Obama's extremes is lazy.

                            And by the way, your original comment of "Fuck Greenwald" suggests that perhaps you do not realize he is in a committed relationship and would probably not be interested in you in any case....


                          •  Again... (0+ / 0-)

                            Your ideology is the degree of separation.

                            Expanding the drone attacks means that Al Qaeda has been decimated.

                            You say "murder"... I say that Alwaki  joined the enemy and was an enemy combatant who contributed to military force against the US and it's allies in a WAR - even if the war is of a different type than previously engaged.

                            If you are here illegally... you take the risk of being deported.

                            He never claimed he would end the war on drugs and that is not a part of the Democratic Party platform.

                          •  No expanding drone attacks means (0+ / 0-)

                            more innocent lives destroyed, including women and children, and more recruits for anti-American forces.  Alwaki was never convicted much less tried for anything.  His 16 year old son was murdered shortly after he was along with a young friend.  This is not justice, it is murder and terrorism.

                            The way you can figure this out is by changing the names of the players.  Canada wants to kill suspected terrorists inside the US and ends up killing your neighbors by accident.  Are you for that?

                            The deportation of thousands separates children from the their parents.  Were they guilty of crossing an imaginary line in the earth too?  You would make a fine republican with your  lack of empathy for the innocent and all.  But don't worry, you do not have to change parties.  The democratic party is going your way.


    •  While I may not agree with him on other matters... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Setsuna Mudo

      ...Greenwald got this one absolutely correct.  The carte blanche already given for the government to throw out any due process in the name of "copyright" (which traditionally was something that a company had to pro-actively prevent or relinquish rather than a government responsibility) is just breathtaking.

      The entertainment industry has used child pornography, terrorism, and all manners of other tangental issues to help press their case.  But the truth of the matter is all they needed was campaign contributions.

      This is a time where I really miss Rick Boucher who was one of the few congressmen to fight this insanity until he sadly lost in 2010.  He even asked how a piece of legislation would affect "PlayOn" during a committee hearing.  If you've ever watched Hulu on your android phone you know exactly what I'm talking about.  And how sad it is that there is probably no one left in congress who'd ask that question.

  •  Don't forget about PCIPA (HR 1981) (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poliwrangler, Setsuna Mudo, Taget, Niniane

    ...another Lamar Smith POS that's already been passed out of committee & headed to the House floor very soon.

    Not only does it propose forcing ISPs to record & hold everyone's IP addresses & online history for a year & a half;

    not only does it ban secure sockets layer (https) & other security measures, kneecapping e-commerce & providing a field day for identity thieves;

    & not only does it cynically claim, with yet another Rovian title, that this is all about "protecting children" as an implicit threat against anyone voting against it;

    ...but Lamar Smith could very easily slip SOPA into that bill during the on-floor amendment process.

    It's not over by a long shot.
    We need to STOP HR 1981 NOW.

    Tell Congress: DON'T BREAK THE INTERNET! Learn about the OPEN Act.

    by Brown Thrasher on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 11:37:46 AM PST

    •  I just read HR 1981 (0+ / 0-)

      Secure sockets layer is not mentioned anywhere in the bill.  

      Online history is not mentioned anywhere in the bill-only the IP address.  

      In addition, I cannot find any corroboration for your accusations anywhere else.  Please provide evidence, or retract.  

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