Megaupload criminal copyright case is 'fundamental shift'

The legal, business and political implications of the Megaupload case were examined at a breakfast panel discussion held by the New Zealand Computer Society in Auckland recently.

The panelists were IT lawyer Rick Shera, InternetNZ CEO Vikram Kumar, and TPP-Watch founder Jane Kelsey.

Shera opened with an observation that the Megaupload extradition proceedings were likely to be "absolutely fascinating" from the legal point of view. The issues were complex but he was glad "New Zealand's most tech-savvy jurist," David Harvey, would be presiding over the hearing which is scheduled to take place in August.

In order for the extradition to succeed, Shera said, "there has to an extraditable offence and it has to be serious. Some say the definition of 'serious' is a offence that could carry a 12 month prison sentence, others say it's four years."

The extraditable offence also had to be "similar or akin to" New Zealand law. While New Zealand did have the Copyright Act, Shera said there were differences between the US and New Zealand legislation, and issues such as knowledge and the obligations of third parties could be significant.

Shera said it showed the struggle by copyright holders to enforce their rights was moving towards ISPs and cloud providers, as film and music companies were discovering that suing users was not best way of achieving their goals.