Cyberlaw, Department of Justice, Entertainment Law, Federal Government, Intellectual Property, Technology

DOJ Case Against Megaupload Continues Crumbling, and I Have To Admit It’s Fun to Watch

The train wreck that is the Department of Justice’s criminal copyright case against Megaupload and its eccentric CEO, Kim Dotcom, is spiraling out of control faster and faster. And I have to admit, as a music-obsessed child of the ’90s and the download era, God, it is fun to watch.

A New Zealand court made another ruling today, and it’s another sledgehammer to the government’s case against the formerly massive cyber locker. Keep reading to see what once was a slamdunk case continue crumbling before our eyes….

In short, a judge ruled that the search warrant conducted at Dotcom’s mansion was illegal. From ABC News:

Search warrants used when 70 police raided the New Zealand mansion of the suspected kingpin of an internet copyright theft ring were illegal, a court has ruled.

German national Kim Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, was one of four men arrested in January as part of an investigation, led by the FBI, into his Megaupload.com website.

I have to hand it to the massive, goofy-looking German guy with a crazy name. He (and his attorneys) are putting up a surprisingly effective and entertaining fight. Not to mention the fact that the alleged pirate has somehow managed to win the hearts and minds of the people (not unlike one Justice John Roberts, who, it seems, also has a knack for pulling crazy awesome rabbits out of hats).

In this new ruling, it wasn’t only the search of his mansion that was ruled illegal, but also the FBI’s attempts to take his electronic data out of the country:

New Zealand high court judge Justice Helen Winkelmann found the warrants used in the seizure of property from Dotcom’s mansion near Auckland were illegal.

Justice Winkelmann found the FBI’s moves to copy data from Dotcom’s computer and take it offshore were also unlawful.

“The warrants did not adequately describe the offences to which they related,” she said in her ruling.

“Indeed they fell well short of that. They were general warrants, and as such, are invalid.”

Mr Dotcom welcomed the judge’s ruling.

“People understand that a service provider like Megaupload should not be liable for actions of their users, for third parties, that’s just wrong,” he said.

Now, as happy as I am to see this happening, I’m not advocating for unchecked piracy of artistic creations. In another life, who knows, I might have been a rock star or a filmmaker (a guy can dream, right?). I want creatives to get paid as much as the next guy. But maybe when this disaster of a prosecution finally bites the dust, it will convince the record industry that its system is so antiquated that it can’t even leverage the Justice Department’s muscle anymore.

The industry needs to redesign its business model to fit the 21st century. There are ways to continue making money, but the context is simply quite different than it was 20 years ago. The recording and movie industries simply can’t continue shoving the old model down the throats of people (via absurd legal threats) who consume media in a different context. Continuing to beat its collective head against a brick wall not only alienates consumers, but it’s not commercially viable.

But still, I’ve got to admit, it’s funny to think/hope that this guy, of all people, might be the one to finally teach that lesson.

Dotcom search warrants ruled invalid [ABC News]

Earlier: What’s Happening In the Megaupload Case? Also: Kim Dotcom Joins Twitter, Uses It To Make Legal Jokes

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