New Zealand

United States v. Megaupload Limited

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Date: 

01/05/2012

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Megaupload Limited, Vestor Limited, Kim Dotcom, Finn Batato, Julius Bencko, Sven Echternach, Mathias Ortmann, Andrus Nomm, and Bram van der Kolk

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia

Legal Counsel: 

Ira Rothkin (counsel for defendant Megaupload Limited), Paul Davison Q.C. (counsel for defendant Dotcom), Guyon Foley, Barrister (counsel for defendant Dotcom)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

On January 5, 2012, a grand jury convened in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued an indictment against Megaupload Limited, its affiliate Vestor Limited, and principals Kim Dotcom (a resident of New Zealand and Hong Kong, and a citizen of Finland and Germany), Finn Batato (a citizen of Germany), Julius Bencko (a citizen of Slovakia), Sven Echternach (a citizen of Germany), Mathias Ortmann (a citizen of Germany and a resident of Hong Kong), Adrus Nomm (a citizen of Estonia), and Bram van der Kolk (a citizen of the Netherlands and New Zealand).

The indictment alleges that the organization and its principals were engaged in a systematic conspiracy to commit and profit from copyright infringement, through operation of the megaupload.com domain name and its affiliates, including megavideo.com.  According to the indictment, before its seizure, Megaupload operated as a "cyberlocker" or file hosting service website, where users were able to upload content to Megaupload servers and receive a unique URL which identified where the file could be downloaded later. Megaupload did not charge users for the basic service, and offered a premium subscription that featured faster bandwidth and fewer limitations on accessing the content stored. The website also featured an "Uploader Rewards" program, which gave monetary compensation for users that uploaded especially popular files to the system. Specific allegations are made stating that the defendants directly copied material without permission, helped others commit copyright infringement, received a direct financial benefit from infringement, and induced others to commit copyright infringement.

The indictment lists five criminal counts, all related to the underlying allegation of criminal copyright infringement. In addition to criminal copyright infringement (17 U.S.C. §506 and 18 U.S.C. § 2319), the indictment alleges conspiracy to commit racketeering (18 U.S.C. § 1962) by being engaged in an enterprise to commit criminal copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit money laundering (18 U.S.C. § 1956) by transferring money that constituted the proceeds of criminal copyright infringement, and aiding and abetting criminal copyright infringement (18 U.S.C. § 2). The indictment alleges that Megaupload did not designate a copyright agent, as is required under the  "safe harbor" of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 512), and that Megaupload would deliberately avoid taking down an allegedly infringing file based on a infringement notice, opting instead to only delete the link to the file on which the complaint was based.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Dotcom, Batato, van der Kolk, and Ortmann were arrested on January 19, 2012. On January 27, 2012, the Department of Justice filed a letter informing the defendants and the court that the DOJ had conducted a search of Megaupload service providers Carpathia Hosting, Inc. and Cogent Communications, Inc. in Virginia and the District of Columbia. The DOJ had copied the files from servers licensed to Megaupload, and informed the court that the hosting companies may begin deleting the contents of those servers beginning on February 2nd. On February 1, 2012, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a letter to the parties and the court on behalf of an undisclosed client, asking the court to preserve the material stored by Megaupload at the direction of the website's users, noting that many individuals had relied on the service for innocent, noninfringing storage of content. According to a Twitter post made by Megaupload Limited's attorney, the hosting services have agreed to temporarily preserve the servers until an agreement can be reached on how to preserve the material stored at the direction of innocent users.

The extradition process is currently underway for defendants arrested in New Zealand. According to BBC News, Mr. Dotcom was denied bail based on flight risk concerns.

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Subject Area: 

CMLP Notes: 

1/25 AFS began skeleto, filled out 2/6.

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

Court Filings
RSS

Hey, When Did This Slope Get so Slippery? The Danger of Self-Surveillance in Three-Strikes Internet Laws

I recall a Twilight Zone episode with a great twist: a man, in order to win a bet that he could stay quiet for an entire year, has had his vocal cords severed. The idea being, it is particularly gruesome to imagine a human being rendered mute for money.

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Gentle Wind Project v. Garvey

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

05/18/2004

Party Issuing Legal Threat: 

Gentle Wind Project; John "Tubby" Miller; Mary Miller; Shelbourne Miller; Carol Miller; Joan Carreiro; Pam Ranheim

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Judy Garvey; James Bergin; Rick Ross; Ian Mander; Steven Gamble; Steve Hassan; Ivan Fraser

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the District of Maine; Superior Court, York County, Maine

Case Number: 

2:04CV00103 (Federal); No. CV-06-11 (State)

Legal Counsel: 

Jerrol Crouter; Brian Willing, Douglas Brooks, William Leete

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)
Settled (total)

Description: 

The Gentle Wind Project ("GWP") was a "spiritual-healing" group that produced and distributed what it characterized as "healing instruments" based on designs communicated from "the spirit world." Husband and wife, James Bergin and Judy Garvey, left the group and started a web site, "Wind of Changes," to help others make informed decisions about GWP. On their site, Bergin and Garvey recounted their experiences with GWP and described what they characterize as the group's "bizarre" belief systems and practices.

Other defendants published links to the "Winds of Change" website on their websites and exchanged information and articles with Bergin and Garvey that were critical of GWP.

GWP threatened the couple with legal action and then, in May 2004, the group and a number of its leaders filed suit against them and the other defendants in the United States District Court for the District of Maine. In January 2006, the federal court granted summary judgment for Bergin and Garvey on the plaintiffs' RICO claims and dismissed the state-law defamation claims for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.

The GWP plaintiffs re-filed the defamation suit against Bergin and Garvey in state court in Maine. Before trial, in November 2006, the GWP plaintiffs asked for a settlement on Bergin and Garvey's terms. In the settlement agreement, the GWP plaintiffs dismissed the current suit and permanently abandoned any ability to sue Bergin and Garvey for anything the couple has written, including describing GWP as a cult, stating that the GWP "healing instruments" are "snake oil," or reporting the existence of group sexual activities, known to inner-circle members as "energy work." Under the terms of the agreement, Bergin and Garvey are expressly allowed to keep their Wind of Changes site open without any interference from GWP. Bergin and Garvey also received "an undisclosed amount" from the receiver of the GWP estate as compensation.

The federal court dismissed the action against Mr. Ross in January 2005. It also dismissed the claims against Ian Mander (from New Zealand) and refused to enter a default judgment against him. Mr. Mander was added to the settlement agreement between the GWP plaintiffs and Bergin and Garvey. Mr. Gamble and Mr. Fraser settled with the plaintiffs without payment and maintained their postings about GWP. Mr. Hassan settled with the GWP plaintiffs and removed all links to information about GWP in return for GWP removing statements made about him on its site.

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Content Type: 

Is It Permissible to Say that New Zealand's Parliament is Filled with Idiots?

Press Gazette (UK): MPs outlaw satire in New Zealand. New Zealand's Parliament has voted itself far-reaching powers to control satire and ridicule of MPs in Parliament, attracting a storm of media and academic criticism.

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