By Michael Robertson
In what reads more like a movie script than a factual presentation of a legal case, the US government filed a 90 page criminal indictment against 2 companies and 7 individuals for copyright infringement. Then they pressured the New Zealand government to send in armed forces including a helicopter to arrest a Dutch citizen (among others) for running an internet service.
What should worry many is these were criminal charges not for any direct behavior, but for indirect behavior — the equivalent of jailing the photocopy company for what users copied using the equipment they provided. Most distressingly, these defendants were denied due process. Before they could defend themselves in court the company was shut down, all assets of the company seized (annihilating the company), the parties were arrested and all their assets frozen. If you care about the rule of law and citizens being protected against unilateral actions by the government, then the Megaupload should cause grave concern.
While the government paints the operation of the service as nefarious — it’s strikingly similar to Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) own YouTube (which media companies sued and to date have not prevailed), Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Skydrive, Dropbox and hundreds of others where users upload material for their own or others use. An interesting exercise is to search and replace “Megaupload” with “YouTube” in the indictment. Read More