Copyright breach is theft

The media’s fascination with Kim Dotcom has irritated me.

He seems to hae been given a lot more attention and treated far more sympathetically than he deserves.

It will be interesting to see if they’re a little less enamoured with him after this news:

The Publisher’s Association has expressed disappointment that links to author Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize winning novel The Luminaries have been made available for free download by a New Zealand registered company.

The novel was discovered on Kim Dotcom’s file-sharing website MEGA yesterday.

“Everyone is rightly proud of the achievements of Eleanor Catton on the world stage so to see her work given away without her consent by a fellow Kiwi company is really appalling,” Publishers Association of New Zealand president Sam Elworthy says.

“We should be doing all we can to support the good work of not only these two artists but also every New Zealander who makes an honest living from his or her creative works.

“MEGA should do more to ensure this kind of thing does not occur.”

Victoria University Press spokesman Fergus Barrowman, which publishes Catton’s novel The Luminaries, said the fact a creative work was easy accessible for free over the internet did not make it right to do so.

“We live in a digital age and authors and publishers recognise the changing nature of how readers want to access material. We made sure that The Luminaries was available as an ebook to New Zealand readers in a timely and accessible way, and we are delighted so many of them have taken advantage of this.

“We are not surprised to be told that there are also illegal sources, but are nevertheless very disappointed,” Barrowman says.

Elworthy says the discovery of Catton’s work on a site such as MEGA was the “tip of the iceberg”.

“Just a few weeks ago we had to ask MEGA to take down an entire educational textbook written by a New Zealand author and which had been made available on their site. This type of illegal sharing is happening at an alarming rate and really hurting New Zealand creatives.

“New Zealand books and music are enjoying enormous success right now. We’re getting creative work out to millions in all sorts of formats all around the world. But while Eleanor Catton is doing big things for our international reputation, it’s disappointing to see her being ripped off by a website which calls itself a New Zealand company,” Elworthy says.

Kim Dotcom is fighting extradition to the United States on copyright and racketeering charges over the operation of his previous file locker site Megaupload.

It’s difficult to make a living from creative endeavours anywhere, harder still in New Zealand where there’s such a small market.

The Man Booker win will have exposed Catton’s work to a much bigger audience but thanks to the free downloads she won’t be getting all the money she’s earned from it.

Beach of copyright, illegal sharing, call it what you will, it’s theft of intellectual property.

7 Responses to Copyright breach is theft

  1. Every single online file storage site has this potential problem, Ele. You can upload anything to Google Drive, or to Dropbox, then send the link around to friends. Ta-dah, illegal file sharing. They take-down on notification, but it’s not like they can pre-emptively do it. And especially not when it is totally legitimate for people to upload their music files and whatnot to those services for their own non-shared use.

    From what I’ve gathered this weekend, the uploaded file was taken down before Mega got a formal take-down request – they pulled it as soon as they heard about it. And, it was apparently downloaded only once, from the same IP address that uploaded it.

    I would put at least even odds that somebody, likely Whale (one chance in three), uploaded it to Mega then jumped up and down about its being there.

    What fix are you proposing for this problem, Ele? If it’s Shut-Down-Mega, what do you propose if I post a YouTube video of me reading the Catton book? Shut down YouTube?


  2. Andrei says:

    What Eric Crampton says.

    Kim Dotcom came up with a successful business model, which is why he is rich and the exactly same concept is now being employed by Google and Apple among others.

    I have always been a bit suspicious that this whole Kim Dotcom saga is really about the big boys (from the USA) shutting down an upstart entrepreneur who is not from the USA


  3. inventory2 says:

    I agree that Dotcom’s business model (pay a few people to upload original content that thousands will subscribe to access) was profitable Andrei, but let’s wait until he has been tried in the US on serious criminal charges before judging the ethics of it.


  4. FWIW, here’s Vikram from Mega on their take-down of The Luminaries:

    “A lot of people have asked how MEGA identified the two files and any implications of that for privacy.

    I saw a tweet that pointed to the blog post on Whaleoil. There were screenshots of the two files, partially obscured. MEGA URLs have two parts- the first points to the file on MEGA and the second (optional) part is the decryption key. Our tech team were able to look at the screenshots and locate them from the first part of the respective links.

    MEGA does not takedown files for alleged copyright infringement without getting a formal notice from the copyright owner or their agent for exactly the reasons you have stated. However, in this particular case, I decided to act without waiting for a formal notice.

    MEGA did not have an ability to look at the files as the decryption keys part of the URLs were too obscured. In line with MEGA’s published policy, the company acts on information received rather than make a subjective judgement about a particular file.

    This should re-affirm MEGA’s user controlled encryption, i.e. without the decryption key that only the uploader has, MEGA is unable to view stored files. This also applies to doing a general search for a particular file by name as the name of files are also not visible to MEGA.

    MEGA protects privacy but will act when people abuse the service to the extent possible.”


  5. blokeinauckland says:

    So Dotcom should attend the court in the US and make his case. He’s a big boy.


  6. Andrei says:

    Hopefully he wont be- the extradition request is dodgy to say the least – I know National Party supporters are willfully blind to this because they cannot admit to themselves that New Zealand under John Key is behaving as the lapdog of American special interests


  7. robertguyton says:

    Andrei’s correct in everything he says on this issue.
    Blokeinauckland and Keeping Stock epitomise the willfully blind National Party supporters Andrei cites.


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