The fight between MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom and US interests have grown increasingly testy in recent months. Now, the judge hearing Dotcom’s extradition case on the New Zealand side has, himself, weighed in on the copyright debate in general. While discussing the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), the judge referred to the US as “the enemy”.
If you ever wanted a sense at just how emotional the MegaUpload fight is, you don’t have to look much further than Dotcom’s Twitter feed. It is interesting to note that the judge overseeing the extradition hearing has given his own opinion on copyright and the TPP. The NZHerald reports:
When talking about how the TPP would affect copyright in New Zealand, Harvey said it could stop the practice of hacking around DVD region codes.
These codes can mean movie players in New Zealand are unable to read DVDs from other parts of the world such as the United States.
It is legal in New Zealand to use methods to get around these regional codes and make the DVDs watchable but Judge Harvey said the TPP would change this.
“Under TPP and the American Digital Millennium copyright provisions you will not be able to do that, that will be prohibited… if you do you will be a criminal – that’s what will happen. Even before the 2008 amendments it wasn’t criminalised. There are all sorts of ways this whole thing is being ramped up and if I could use Russell [Brown's] tweet from earlier on: we have met the enemy and he is [the] U.S.”
Judge Harvey’s remark is a play on the line “we have met the enemy and he is us” by American cartoonist Walt Kelly.
While this, on the surface, might seem great that the judge in question seems to understand what’s going on with the TPP, referring to the US as the enemy might not necessarily be all that helpful given that it could give rise to complaints from crown prosecutors for bias. On the other hand, one should also point out that the TPP is a completely separate issue from the MegaUpload case given that one deal with international laws and treaties while the other deals with a specific case with a specific entity in a specific country. Yes, there is similarities given both revolve around copyright, but I’m not convinced that copyright alone is enough to make a connection between the TPP and the MegaUpload case. Moreover, even if you say that both deal with International relations, the extradition case, to my knowledge, still revolved around domestic law. What will be interesting to see is how this does affect the case at hand (i.e. will the crown complain about the judge’s action outside the court?)
Last month, the judge ruled that the warrant against Kim Dotcom was invalid and that the removal of evidence was illegal.