Tuesday, 21 February 2017

In New Zealand it is not illegal to steal the fruit of other people's labour

 

Yesterday we discovered that in New Zealand it is not illegal to steal the fruit of other people's labour.

I learned that from reading the Herald this morning, who on page three quoted the High Court judgement against Kim DotCom, which said, and I quote: “online communication of copyright protected works to the public is not a criminal offence in New Zealand under s131 of the Copyright Act."

This is passing strange for many reasons, not least because this was the very section of the law that led to the fat German’s arrest. But also because s131 of New Zealand’s 1994 Copyright Act (written a few years before the internet was really a thing) says quite clearly that

Every person commits an offence against this section who, other than pursuant to a copyright licence … in the course of a business or otherwise, sells or lets for hire; or distributes otherwise than in the course of a business … an object that is, and that the person knows is, an infringing copy of a copyright work.

It is without question that the internet pirate and his business cronies did knowingly and with aforethought organise, arrange and seek out the job of distributing (but not selling, letting or hiring out) a great many “objects” that they know were infringing copies of copyright work. That was this fat slug’s very business model, aiding and abetting outright theft, as demonstrated in emails sent by his other slugs saying: "We're not pirates, we're just providing shipping services to pirates." The loophole that by all accounts brought these counterfeit businessmen to New Zealand and which the High Court confirmed yesterday is unplugged is those few words “otherwise than in the course of a business.”

Those few words, it seems, mean that online communication of copyright protected works to the public is not a criminal offence in New Zealand just as long as you have those people paying these people to help them steal other people’s work. Which means that in New Zealand it is not illegal to steal the fruit of other people's labour.

We have this fat slug to thank for showing us that.

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5 comments:

  1. Sorry Peter, I would get a brain scan.

    You're claiming Telecom is guilty anytime transmits a pirated copy across its network?

    My businesses is guilty anytime uploads a pirated video to one of the servers I host??

    That's the only way I can make sense of your words, and I'm sure you know that is nonsense.

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  2. Peter, do you have any recommended reading on the topic of intellectual property, from an Objectivist perspective?

    I'm still a little hazy (and to be clear, see this as a failure of my own understanding) how:

    a) Patents work from an Objectivist position (i.e. actual ownership of an idea, with the use of force by the State against people who make use of that idea without your permission? Doesn't seem legitimate to me.)

    b) Unauthorized distribution of copies of content can constitute theft when the original is still in the hands of the owner, and fully functional. Violation of a civil contract, sure, and properly subject to a lawsuit could losses be proved objectively in court. But theft? I don't see it.

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  3. Every person commits an offence against this section who, other than pursuant to a copyright licence … in the course of a business or otherwise, sells or lets for hire; or distributes otherwise than in the course of a business … an object that is, and that the person knows is, an infringing copy of a copyright work.

    " Otherwise than in the course of a business" the whole thing seems to be circumlocution . can Dotctrim go to Appeal /?

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  4. Berend: I believe that the difference is that the aforementioned fat slug tailored his business specifically to cater to pirates, and did so quite consciously (hence the reference to shipping in his email). It's certainly a moral difference, even if the law makes no distinction.

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  5. *ping* ... still interested in any recommendations you have in this area Peter.

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