The Pirate Party of New Zealand says New Zealand law and the rights of New Zealand citizens who may have legally stored material on Megaupload’s servers should have been taken into account before the file storage service was closed.
In deciding whether to extradite Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and his colleagues to face charges in the US, “the defendants in question should be [subject] to our laws first and foremost, as this is the country where the defendants were arrested,” the party says in an emailed reply to Computerworld’s questions.
“We do not see the importance of Dotcom’s personal life or how he lived it — neither do we see him as a saint. What is important is substantial evidence that could prove moral wrongdoing, victimisation [or] infringement against New Zealand’s civil law or the safety of our citizens, with support only for hard facts. If, for instance, file sharing services were running a child porn operation or [the like], we could see a strong case for conviction, but generalised file-sharing of documents, sound bites or software is a grey area, and has to be dealt with accordingly with our current laws and the values of the various communities. We believe hearsay has no credibility and no place in our system.
“This country has no official law covering file-sharing infringements for cyber-locker service providers, only peer-to-peer file sharing, and this should have been taken into account,” the party says. “It would have been better for the courts to assess these defendants on the basis of the amendments that were [passed] here in 2011 and not accusations by foreign nations.
“We know that most of these accusations show an appalling lack of technical understanding of how file sharing services work. For example, US authorities believe that automatic de-duplication of files implies copyright infringement - if you don’t replicate the same file every time someone else uploads it, that’s piracy.
“Internet service providers in the PPNZ’s view [simply] provide a service, which connects us to the internet, a type of public good. This logic also applies to online services like Megaupload or those of Google. They remain a neutral platform between the world and us. A postal courier wouldn’t be responsible if an iPod sent for repair has pirated music on it, so why should it be any different for an ISP or a website?”
On the rights of legal Megaupload users who may have lost data stored on its servers, the party quotes the New Zealand Bill of Rights: ‘No person is to be deprived of the use or enjoyment of that person’s property without just compensation.’ Concern with copyright seems to have overridden this right in this case, it says.
“The PPNZ are not supporting other’s intellectual property being plagiarised or blatant theft or profiteering from other’s property, only suggesting that greater access and openness is given in the first place so piracy isn’t necessary, or indeed even applicable anymore.
“There are many measures in place even now that allow for the original author to be acknowledged such as in the open-source community and [provide for] software or artworks made to be duplicated and improved on, but not to be sold for profit
“We strongly object to profiteering from others’ work, but believe it is important for it to be shared fairly and [in an orderly way]. The very idea of private property has created a philosophical condition that motivates hostility by many institutions toward any sort of proposal for common ownership by users who choose it. The internet is a place where this might actually work.”