The one about Kim Dotcom

Kim Dotcom, born Kim Schmitz is a colourful larger than life character. He even lives local to me. But he is a rogue, and has done knowing and wilful things.

Putting aside the rights and wrongs of his arrest and the actions or inactions of the NZ Police / FBI et al which is a whole other story, there is the nagging thing about Megaupload that to me sticks out as knowing and wilful.

He’s even constructed a website, and is has a handy FAQ page

On on that page you can find an indication of one of the cornerstones of the case against him. Contained in Questions/Answers/Facts #2 and #6

 2. How did Megaupload use technology to maximise Storage Efficiency?

Megaupload, similar to other large cloud storage providers that rely on efficient data storage like Dropbox, was designed to store a single useable copy of each unique file uploaded to its servers. If multiple users uploaded identical files, Megaupload would retain one instance of the file, and generate a unique link for each individual user, called a Uniform Resource Locator (“URL”). One user might choose to keep his unique link private; another user might wish to share his link with others via email or by embedding it in a webpage such as a blog post.

So, if two people uploaded the same file Megaupload would keep only one version of the file but generate two unique url links to that file, one for each user. If 10, 100 or 1000 people uploaded the same file there would be one instance of the file stored and 10, 100 or 1000 unique URL links to it.

6. Did Megaupload honor takedown notices?

Megaupload processed takedown notices swiftly and efficiently. Megaupload went beyond the ordinary and used technology to speed up the take down process. For example trusted parties including major Hollywood entities received access to an innovative real-time direct takedown web tool.

Megaupload negotiated with major copyright holders or their agents—including the Recording Industry Association of America, Disney, Warner Brothers, NBC, and Microsoft—to allow them access to take down directly, in an automated manner, an active link to material they believed infringed their copyrights. Megaupload was commended by Hollywood organizations for its take down processes.

So if the unique URL was being shared as a link to a copyright holder item then Megaupload allowed that URL link to be deleted, or taken down.

Not the file deleted, just the link to the file. So perhaps 10,100 or 1000 unique URL still remained pointing to that file.

There then seems to be a conflict between knowing what files are duplicates of other files, since clearly they boast that technology, but then to somehow with a straight face say well we’ve deleted the link therefore no infringement.

Reading the indictment documentation it seems apparent that various people at Megaupload were aware of the nature of the files being stored and were sharing them internally for use, and not removing the offending files, rather just the public links to them.  Sure not having a URL does not allow me to download a file that has copyright claim against it, but that there might have been 10, 100 or 1,000 unique URL’s available to that file kind of negates the holier-than-thou thing going on.

Good on Kim for engaging a public relations exercise, he’s setting himself up to be a people’s person, a mans man, a wronged individual.

Sadly I don’t buy it.  I have sympathy for his plight, and I’m not exactly engaged with the ethics of the arrest/seizure, but I am sure that there was knowing and there was wilful.

Frowning week: Farms / Dotcom / Unions / Breakfast TV

I can’t get along with the media this week, or the bits of it that have caught my eye and attention, It might be the back to work blues, it might be that I’m sitting in an office and the sun and blue sky are outside being annoying. However these are the things that this week, in particular, made me frown, for either reason of Faux Outrage or otherwise.

  • Crafar Farms, a NZ$200 million bid to buy them by a Chinese Company that sees them lease them back to Landcorp. It’s not that big of a deal. The amount of land is paltry in comparison to similar overseas land investments in New Zealand sanctioned by both the Labour and National governments, past and present.
New Zealand 2007
Image by Szymon Stoma via Flickr

Dont get me wrong on this, Allowing the sale to any foreign entity based on “well they did it, we’re going to do it” isn’t exactly a way to run a country. Their bid however, and we’re an open country, is the highest bid and apparently a good price.  Jingoism and Xenophobia are two words that come to mind.  This is an emotional play by the opposition parties to gather doom clouds over the recently elected and current government, it’s not about ownership of farms. The current government by not engaging in any words on this is not making itself any friends, and it’s position looks stubborn and appears contrary to “the will of the people” who are the people that are the opposition party, not the real people. OF course asked a question like “Should a chinese person buy our land” is always going to be a NO!, and this is what joe public has in their mind now, it’s not going to end well.

  • Kim Dotcom. A foreign national resident in New Zealand (as am I, I’d like to point out). Founder/Owner of a hosting site he’s had charges of  alleged piracy and allowing piracy of material to the tune of some US$500million.

He’s a bit of a wide-boy and would, in my opinion, do a runner, or make it as hard as possible to be found if he chose. Not sure what the ongoing faux outrage is with this. I am impressed with the media’s use of close cropped head shots that appear to highlight mr.Dotcom’s chubbyness. But this is a side-show to an underlying problem where law has not kept up with technology, sharing the latest TV show, or Film from the US that may not get to NZ for 3 months or more – what outcome does the producer hope to get, people want it now, the same producers have avalanched us with reality tv shows in real-time for ages, and suddenly they’re not in control.

  • Ports of Auckland. An Employer who want to drag’s it’s work ethic into the modern era.
English: View northeastwards from one of the c...
Image via Wikipedia

My understanding is that an employed worker has a shift/roster, and  is available to work. My understanding also is that should a ship dock half way though that time slot the worker can continue to work through untill the ship is unloaded and that counts as overtime, even if for the first portion of that roster there is no work available – so time for free. What it seems the ports want to do is normalise a working schedule, based on modern technology that says “A bot will arrive at this time and you are required to work for x hours as part of your roster. It’s not decided the day before, shipping companies know pretty much to the hour where their fleets are. The unions are against this for many reasons, mostly to do with self empowerment and grandiose self importance.

  • BreakfastTV, we’ve rebelled against the machine and have taken flight to TV3, where there appears to be News being covered in a newsy kind of way, and not 30 second segments of recycled quick cut clips of tabloid headlines and pet stories. TVOne has really shot itself int he foot with a new set, atrocious front people and a format that really is brain-dead.

Megaupload – Faux Outrage

I might be seeing this wrong.

If it was Bernard Madoff, Sir Allan Stanford, Nick Leeson, Ken Lay, Bernie Ebbers, Dennis Kozlowski & it was a $500 million alleged financial fraud, & they were arrested in NZ you’d probably be thinking “good job” and be in general support.

I think the thing is there are two issues:

  1. The fact that Kim Dotcom has been arrested or held at the behest of the FBI in New Zealand. This seems to be counter to most people’s expectations of a fair and free existence, and seem to trample on our sovereignty and right to police our own country. A sort of  “How dare they!”

The NZ ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has this handy document on Extradition. “The Act does not require a foreign country to have a treaty to request extradition from New Zealand”


  1. That most of the tech-savvy may have at one time or another used the services facilitated by Megaupload, or one of the many other similar services, such as PirateBay, LimeWire, Rapidshare, and that we don’t collectively see this as a ‘theft” or “fraud” issue.

Megauplaod upload exists to facilitate the movement of large files in a direct download model between users, on an often anonymous basis. Someone uploads a file and then others can pick and choose to download that file – in total- as they choose, or not.

To drag someone back to the USA to face a media storm and circus seems a little odd. But then financial fraud and crime needs to be dealt with in a far more seveer manner than most other crimes.

Bit of a pigs ear then, the “authorities” could have closed down the business, and frozen assets under various RICO and money laundering / income from crime statutes I imagine without the drama of extradition and display, which in the end would result in one man in jail for a few years for being a visionary, albeit a bit of a dodgy one.