I was scanning the news out there and came across this article about Kim Dotcom’s current trial in New Zealand stemming from the Mega Upload Case . I know I had promised everyone Freedom Friday to be the forum for discussion of these issues involving freedom and technology (which is the subject of the book I am working on). However, it’s Saturday and I just want to get this out. Call it a precursor post for my weekly feature.
At issue here are his skype messages not about mega upload but about the judge. The prosecution of course is using anything they can get from the discovery which includes material seized from his laptop including skype message about the judge. I am sure this will fail the “true threat” requirenents as the words
“At some point, a judge will be convinced about how evil we are…”
could hardly be considered truly a threat more as a statement of fact about moralizations made by some judges. This is an example of the grey area just at the boundary of free speech limits. But without testing those limits you can never expand them. While the current writer does not advocate abuse of judges, it is the desperation of the prosecution that is notable here. They obviously went to great lengths to find Kim Dotcom’s words deep within a Skype message stream to use against him.
Typically, in cases involving First Amendnent issues, this sort of tactic is used where the prosecution does not have a strong case. Clouding the issue here is also his extradition from New Zealand as both countries have differing requirements to carry it out.
The case ostensibly involved copyright law but the implications for internet freedom are significant if he ultimately loses. Copyright restrictions currently not severely enforced on sites like YouTube would come under vigorous enforcement significantly curtailing one’s viewing. Previews might even be restricted or even eliminated for instance. The ability to watch missed TV episodes even of old shows might come under question. Worse yet, sites like YouTube that are basically free might become premium in part a response to the added costs of enforcing copyright in all expanded aspects across the board. One can easily see the restraints on internet freedom in such a case.
Needless to say peer to peer sharing in all forms (not just bit torrent which is a traditional p2p sharing software) would come under more scrutiny finally even impacting social media like Facebook.