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back to article Kiwis collar Megaupload kingpin, Anonymous exacts revenge

America’s war on file-dump site Megaupload has escalated dramatically, with founder Kim Dotcom and three others in Auckland among seven people arrested in connection with the site. The four arrested in New Zealand include Megaupload’s chief marketing officer Finn Batato, cofounder and CTO Mathias Ortmann, and BOFH Bram van der …

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Worth a giggle!

"amassed a fortune that allowed him to rent a vast multi-million-dollar mansion near Auckland in New Zealand."

Rented?

/me giggles!

He'd better hope that he saved lots of that money, because he is going to need it to hire lawyers.

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Anonymous Coward

Smart thinking if anything, surely? If you're concerned that your business practices might piss off the world police (USA) why spunk your capital on a bricks and mortar asset that the government can seize easily. I bet that money is littered around the world in nice safe off shore accounts..

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Mushroom

FBI 1 : Anonymous 3

This one is going to be interesting...

Comfy chair and a large tub of popcorn at the ready.

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>>"I bet that money is littered around the world in nice safe off shore accounts.."

Does that necessarily help?

You engage in lots of obfuscation, so 'they' can claim you must have loads of money hidden somewhere, do you for money laundering, and then add extra time on your sentence for refusing to give up your ill-gotten-gains, whether you actually have them or not.

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Anonymous Coward

Like the organized crime figures put in prison in America, they can afford to wait a few years for their money.

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Anonymous Coward

IF THE KIWI GOVERNMENT

Allow this then they are as weak as the UK .

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Anonymous Coward

WILL UTUBE

Be next?

I think not.

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The point about renting is that it makes it much harder for the authorities to seize your assets. It's standard practice among the smarter crim. Rent everything, own nothing and bank your money where you hope they can't get their hands on it.

Actually it's not just criminals. Well not obvious criminals anyway. It's called keeping your assets liquid and not tying them up.

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re: The Kiwi Government

Why? I mean surely you can't believe that Megaupload *isn't* primarily a resource for copyright infringement and that its where the money comes from. So why is it weak of the Kiwi government to allow enforcement of laws against this?

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Angel

me2

very very interested to see this one wind down. looking like the most massive attack ever, somebody shouldn't have pissed off anon this badly.

get the beer and crisps out, this one might take a while :)

Sit back, relax and watch the fireworks fly, it's like a digital new years eve!

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WTF?

excuse me?

megaupload primarilly a resource for copyright infringement? then why are so many big artists supporting them? i know people who contacted megaupload after they found music of theirs being hosted, they took it down within 24 hours.

Go on, give me examples of it being mostly set up for illegal content, i dare you!

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Did you read the article? He rents because he's not legally allowed to buy otherwise he would have bought. I fail to see the lol in that.

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WTF?

If busting an organised crime ring is weak ...

then you live in a very strange world.

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FAIL

Doesn't matter

The reality of whether Megaupload has a business model based around copyright infringement or not is irrelevant. The whole point of this sort of repository is that people pay some money and get a chunk of storage to put something. There are a lot of people who will have put non-illegal stuff up there who have now lost it. Doing this will simply result in all repository sites becoming potentially unreliable and therefore not of use to anyone. What's the point of that?

Even BT in this country has this sort of facility. Is there any copyright infringing material on there........almost certainly. Should they be shutdown as well? Why not? They're doing essentially the same thing.

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Mushroom

@h4rm0ny

Rather simple.

They are not pirates AFAIK, no one has been pillaged, held hostage, raped or murdered.

As worst they are copyright license infringers. Or, rather, the people doing the uploads are.

If there was any infringement of copyright then that is a civil matter, it's not a reason for the doors to be kicked in and people arrested. That's doubleplus ungood.

The world has moved on, but rather than change the MPAA et al are trying to use new, draconian laws to enforce the status quo and ensure our future culture is controlled by corporations.

This will never work, all it will do is inconvenience the honest and force them into the arms of the infringers (who tend to offer a better service).

Why hasn't Google, Yahoo! or anyone else been shut-down for linking to infringing material? Yet a UK citizen is being extradited for what is, at worst, a civil offence?

Why weren't Sony execs jailed for the rootkit fiasco?

Why hasn't the RIAA been punished for torrenting infringing material?

The questions go on.

It is right that creators, distributors etc get a fair wage (as determined by a free market)

It is not right to restrict free trade or attack my freedoms simply to protect an outmoded revenue stream.

It is not right to hold our culture to ransom.

It is not right that elected representatives act against the wishes and best interests of the electorate.

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@Mad Mike

>>"The reality of whether Megaupload has a business model based around copyright infringement or not is irrelevant."

Why is it irrelevant?

If the only way to stop constant infringement is to take the site out, then the site owners are ultimately responsible for the site going dark, and if legitimate users are so unaware of the nature of where they're putting their data, or so blindly confident that 'the internet' is some kind of inviolate place, they deserve to have some kind of lesson.

If, for example, I had stuck some important data on a warez site and deleted all the other copies, even *before* the site got taken out, that would make me a fool.

An *innocent* fool, possibly, but a fool nonetheless.

>>"Even BT in this country has this sort of facility. Is there any copyright infringing material on there........almost certainly. Should they be shutdown as well? Why not? They're doing essentially the same thing."

It's only "essentially the same thing" if you conveniently ignore all the ways in which it is different.

Read the indictment at http://www.scribd.com/doc/78786408/Mega-Indictment and even if you don't believe all of it, ask yourself how many things on there are things BT would be likely to do.

*Then* come back and say it's essentially the same situation.

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@David Wilson

If we consdier the business model for a repository site like this (and BTs own), you have to look where the revenue is coming from. If copyright infringement is so widespread and common on these sites, then it stands to reason a large part of your revenue is coming from people infringing copyright. Therefore, if your site is in anyway successful, you are in the same position. Is BTs site successful? Probably (take your own view here), in which case there revenue must largely be coming from copyright infringement. The owners may take removing the content more or less seriously, but the argument is always that these site survive on copyright infringement, so you must either close them all or none.

The other stupidity around this is that there's another alternative. According to industry representatives in the UK (media companies etc.), your IP address is enough to prove you're infringing copyright and therefore get all sorts of comeback, whether speed restrictions or removing your connection altogether. Hence, lots of court cases etc. here. So, simply require these sites to keep the IP address of the uploader!! Simples. Find a copyright infringing upload, take the IP address, find connection, use existing law. Shutting the whole site is overkill and hits perfectly legal users.

Of course, whether you believe an IP address by itself is enough is open to debate and person opinion.

Either way, the American 'justice' organisations are fighting battle on behalf of a small subset of society and a battle they cannot win. No matter what they do and no matter how many sites are taken down, others will simply pop up or other methods get created. In the meantime, loads of innocents will be hurt, including all the jobs and business that will leach out of American to other countries.

Everyone knows you should never fight a battle you cannot win. Talk to the people and find another way around it. This has been proven many times in both American and other countries histories...........drugs, alcohol (prohibition), Iraq (anyone who thinks that was won is living in a dreamworld), Afghanistan (ditto), copyright theft........

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why?

In the article it explains that he rented the mansion as his previous convictions prevented him from buying it. Why is that funny?

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@The BigYin

>>"Why hasn't Google, Yahoo! or anyone else been shut-down for linking to infringing material?"

Because what they do is not directly comparable.

For example, they don't go out of their way to do it, nor do they make most of their money from doing it.

>>"Yet a UK citizen is being extradited for what is, at worst, a civil offence?"

If there wasn't a criminal offence they could at least *claim* he would be guilty of in UK law, they wouldn't be able to put an extradition case together.

Whether he could have been realistically charged with a criminal offence here if all the actions and supposed victims had been local does seem to be at least debatable, though I guess the devil might be in the detail.

One person might say "What he did is basically the same as what X did, and X's actions were found not to be against the law!", though that would probably need a good look at exactly what X did to see how much 'the same' it really was.

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@Mad Mike

>>"If we consdier the business model for a repository site like this (and BTs own), you have to look where the revenue is coming from. If copyright infringement is so widespread and common on these sites, then it stands to reason a large part of your revenue is coming from people infringing copyright. Therefore, if your site is in anyway successful, you are in the same position. Is BTs site successful? Probably (take your own view here), in which case there revenue must largely be coming from copyright infringement. The owners may take removing the content more or less seriously, but the argument is always that these site survive on copyright infringement, so you must either close them all or none."

You're starting off from a premise that megaupload and BT are basically the same, and then trying to argue from that to prove they're equivalently legit.

That's logically fallacious reasoning.

Few people, if any are saying that *every* site on the internet that stores data is making money largely from promoting or knowing tolerating copyright infringement.

In this case, some people are saying specifically that this particular site is doping that, and giving explanations of why they think that..

As I said, read the bloody indictment and *then* come back and tell us that BT and megaupload are 'effectively the same,' and explain why all the apparent differences are actually trivial from a legal standpoint.

>>"Either way, the American 'justice' organisations are fighting battle on behalf of a small subset of society "

In this case, they're seemingly also fighting it /against/ a very small subset of society.

A subset who most people probably won't be weeping much for if they do get banged up.

In any case, whether 'right' (like defending a company against unfair competition from some subsidised competitor or would-be monopolist), 'wrong' (like naked protectionism) or something more debatable, surely *any* government action on behalf of one or other commercial interest is 'fighting a battle on behalf of a small subset of society'?

Just because it's related to the specific interests of a small group doesn't automatically make it 'wrong' or 'unfair'.

>>"Find a copyright infringing upload, take the IP address, find connection, use existing law."

Which would then inevitably get any number of responses about how unfair it was that poor little teenage Johnny was being done while the site actually making the money wasn't.

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"Even BT in this country has this sort of facility. Is there any copyright infringing material on there........almost certainly. Should they be shutdown as well? Why not? They're doing essentially the same thing."

Not quite. Not by a very big quite. The BT site like many others is supposedly for users to store their data so that they can access it themselves. That's not what Megaupload or Rapidshare or any other similar sites are about. They are about putting files where other people can get at them easily.

Are you being deliberately obtuse or can you genuinely not see the difference.

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Anonymous Coward

Whose laws?

It's New Zealand, not the USA, an independent, sovereign nation with its own parliament and laws. Or are you saying any law made anywhere in the world applies everywhere?

Silly, gullible boy.

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@david wilson

"For example, they don't go out of their way to do it, nor do they make most of their money from doing it."

Wrong, they do make money from it. Ad revenue.

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@The Big Yin

>> >>""For example, they don't go out of their way to do it, nor do they make most of their money from doing it.""

>>"Wrong, they do make money from it. Ad revenue."

What part of the word 'most' is causing problems here?

If someone gave Google a magic algorithm for detecting any links to illicit uploaded content, and they implemented it, how much difference would it actually make to their income?

If someone gave megaupload a magic algorithm for detecting any illicit uploaded content *that they were hosting* and they implemented it, how much difference would it make to their income?

You seriously believe that the answers are 'effectively the same'?

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simple

: The Kiwi Government → # h4rm0ny#

It would show that New Zealand doffs its cap to USA and that you will become a slave nation to them.

Whatever you say master we will do as we are told!

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@david wilson

"What part of the word 'most' is causing problems here?"

Most of Google's money comes from ad revenue (if not all), so the amount they raise from ads placed beside links of infringing material is going to be pretty substantial. Perhaps not in relative terms, but certainly in absolute and possible on a par with (if not greater than) Megaupload. Have you asked yourself why Google opposed SOPA? Do you think it was really about freedom?

"You seriously believe that the answers are 'effectively the same'?"

Pretty much. Just because Google is big is no reason that they should avoid the law (even though I do not agree with said law). Actually, the best thing that could happen is someone going after Google in exactly the same way, then the law might get changed. But no, they would much rather chase down teenagers and get toadying governments to kowtow to them.

As I said at the start, I do not agree with depriving the artists/creators of income and I think they do deserve a wage (as determined by a free market, which might not be as much as they think they are worth). But the fact remains that the majors have not got their shit together and that is why the infringing services exist on the scale they do.

It is these services that are proving the people what they want. Ready access to content with no bullshit. And you know what, some creators do rather well by following such a model. Most of the infringing could be stopped almost overnight if the majors started playing fair (time an again surveys have shown that the biggest infringers are also the biggest legit customers, they are simply trying to by-pass the artificial barriers; e.g. region-lock).

There will always be some, such is life.

Attacking our on freedoms is NOT the answer to anything.

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Childcatcher

You're better of leasing/renting everything and hiding the money abroad.

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Flame

Asshole-versus-Asshole

This is just another struggle between the empowered/moneyed alpha-elites.

Asshole "A": the RIAA/MPAA and their paid-off multi-government tools.

Asshole "B": the prime movers of MU who made millions of dollars by hosting un-paid-for intellectual property (I'm not going into the "illegal/immoral" aspects of this).

The apparent citizen-level issue is, "Why should US laws be enforced against non-US citizens who have not stepped foot into the US?"

"Because they did bad things" is an insufficient answer. I'm certain many countries (middle-eastern, China, North Korea, and others) have laws "against" criticising their leaders or their leaders' actions. I'm also certain there's been at least one US citizen who has criticised one or more of those countries' leaders or actions on the web; yet, the US has not handed such persons over to those countries to be tried for their alleged crimes.

The REAL citizen-level issue is that their governments are corrupt.

The US-based multinational corporation International Business Machines provided technology and consulting services to the Third Reich, enabling the Nazis to better track jews, gays, Roms, and other Reich-designated "undesirables".

Yet the US government did not prosecute IBM's officers, nor penalize the corporation.

Clearly, "money talks."

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Stop

Extradition is quite appropriate for the Megaupload Four.

Kim Dotcom is German-Finnish, both Mathias Ortmann and Finn Batato are German, and Bram van der Kolk is Dutch. So the Kiwis have every right to expel them in a USA-bound direction. Roughly speaking, all countries should have the right to get rid of undesirable foreigners. None of these guys are Gary McKinnon, or that poor dude who got told last week that he could be extradited to the US.

However, I do not know about the other three. If any of them is a NZ citizen, then they should not be extradited. At worst, they can be charged and serve the crime in their own country. People know it's wrong to extradite people in such circumstances.

There's a word for people who betray one's own countrypeople for financial or political gain. It's called "treason". It's why people get angry about Gary McKinnon. But the New Zealand government is not doing anything treasonous with the Megaupload Four.

Yet.

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Big Brother

oh dear.....

This is the start of some kind of disaster. Get the bomb shelters built...

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Anonymous Coward

Or, more prosaically,

get downloading EVERY damn thing you vaguely thought you 'might do, some time'. While you can.

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Black Helicopters

4G

This story is SO three hours ago..... (yeah not funny)

In any case, law or no law, this Administration will do whatever it wants, when it wants.

Bastards.

8|

Btw: icon should be "I hear the distant sound of drones....yada"

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Lame song

Can't they be charged for that too?

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Big Brother

Esentially this is the end of the freedom on the net

First megaupload, a few years later every single eCommerce site will be infringing into someone else's "Intellectual Burp" (IB, you heard it here first pun intended) and either they pay the extortion fee or Uncle SAM will nuke them.

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>>"First megaupload, a few years later every single eCommerce site will be infringing into someone else's "Intellectual Burp" (IB, you heard it here first pun intended) and either they pay the extortion fee or Uncle SAM will nuke them."

Sure, because it's not possible that 'they' could ever do anything without it being the thin end of an enormous wedge which will obviously end life as we know it and/or subjegate the entire world.

Just like all the other wedges in the past were.

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Anonymous Coward

Updates...

At first, reading the BBC article, it seemed the site was hosted and run out of Hong Kong. Now this article is saying that servers on US soil have been snatched. If they were stupid enough to have a single item of kit on US soil I, in the words of B.A. Baracus, "pity the fool". That mistake will be their jurisdictional undoing.

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Spot on. If the operation was purely run out of Hong Kong it's likely the US wouldn't touch it. Fucking with the Chinese not being something the US would want to do given the US reliance on Chinese manufacturing. It's the infrastructure on US soil that has allowed this to happen.

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Don't be so sure

@Grease Monkey China might not happen to have much in the way of its own IP at that moment, but it is going around the world and buying it up, and producing it at home too. Give it a year or two and China will be as willing as the rest of the world to enforce IP claims.

You are probably better of in a US gaol than some Chinese Laogai.

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Black Helicopters

Nice to see...

The US CEO is not mentioned, as clearly is it ALL EVIL FOOORNERS who do all this... evil.

Also nice to see them going after the GRAPHIC DESIGNER, because he is clearly a lynchpin of the whole organisation of evil; although if he used Comic Sans fonts he might be liable for Crimes Against Humanity under UN Human Rights Laws.

It doesn't matter that SOPA didn't get through, the Merkins will just do whatever they want anyway.

Black Helicopters, because I am certain that reading subversive FOOORN TEERRST publications like El Reg will make you a drone target soon enough....

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Big Brother

"...It doesn't matter that SOPA didn't get through, the Merkins will just do whatever they want anyway...."

Yes, and that's the important bit - it doesn't matter if SOPA and/or PIPA fail; what cannot be done via the front door can always be achieved via the back door, bit-by-bit, until the government/police/corporations have rearranged the internet in exactly the way they would prefer to see it, right in front of our indifferent eyes. We're like bugs, sinking on a peach.

SOPA and all the distracting hot air around it is ultimately meaningless; governments and government agencies will never stop, they will never give up, they will always be seeking new ways to wrestle the web away from ordinary people, using sensational scare tactics, bogus statistics and blatant disinformation.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever."

-G. Orwell, 1984

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"...It doesn't matter that SOPA didn't get through, the Merkins will just do whatever they want anyway...."

The point about SOPA and PIPA is that the US administration are admitting that there are foreign websites which they can't touch. Megaupload is an example of a foreign website that they can touch.

There are still plenty of countries in the world with which the US does not have a cosy relationship. Sites hosted in these countries are clearly outwith the control of the US authorities. So what SOPA and PIPA aim to do is to restrict access to those sites from the US either by technical means or by making it illegal to reference those sites from within the US. It is largely the latter that is upsetting so many people.

I read much of SOPA/PIPA as being about saving money. No doubt the operation against Megaupload has cost the FBI an awful lot of money. If, however, the feds could have blocked access to Megaupload from within the US or made it an offence to link to or even to access the site then that would have been cheaper. That would not, perhaps, have resulted in the king pins being arrested, but the loss of the US market would have been a big dent in Megauploads income. But it's more than just the US. In their usual arrogant way the US administration seem to believe that all the countries with which they are friendly will enact their own versions of SOPA/PIPA.

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Kim Dotquack

See Attrition.org* for some fun facts about Kim Schmitz , AKA Kim "dotcom", AKA Kimble; and this "secret hacker army" of his. No tear will be shed this side of the discernment line.

Although the response does seem a bit heavy-handed. Wasn't Kim supposed to be BFF with the FBI? Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer. And above all keep your "friends" closest!

* http://securityerrata.org/errata/charlatan/kimble/

Post edited to avoid El Reg'ing Attrition.org's primary server.

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Anonymous Coward

A prison cell awaits you

DotMoron.com and his supporters who hack should know that a prison cell with their name on it awaits. This should be good media fodder for a couple years as the clueless get hauled off to prison.

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Stop

Is that...

...you again "Morris D"? You really should change the record... tape, CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, MP3, MP4 or whatever next format you're going to try and spout the same old shite to us in!

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Please correct me if I'm wrong, but...

I thought Megaupload and related sites were protected under the DMCA safe harbour provisions, by providing a way for content owners to have infringing files removed.

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Mushroom

Yeah they are. But only if they actually take down content on request. YouTube supposedly does... MegaUpload ignored the requests... hence the shut down.

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Anonymous Coward

From what I heard

It has more to do with intent and the site knowingly encouraged and profited from the infringement while making it difficult for rights holders to get their content off the site (i.e. the same file could be referenced by hundreds or thousands of links, and a DMCA complaint had to be filed for each link).

Apparently you can lose your DMCA safe harbor under certain circumstances (that didn't apply to the YouTube case).

IANAL of course, just passing along what I heard.

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@Jan and @AC:

I'm not sure where you're getting your facts about megaupload. They've always been VERY fast to respond to DMCA requests and to remove content that allegedly infringes copyright.

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Meh

Probably the Ars-technica article

which seems to go into a lot more detail.

After reading that, i have a lot less sympathy. Of course, all these claims of could all just be bollocks, as the feds have a track record of making stuff up if its convenient.

Besides, they made the RIAA look like (bigger) Fools with that Video. As i'm sure the RIAA have told the honorable members of the senate they purchased, MegaUpload have to die.

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