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Dotcom Search Warrants Ruled Illegal 316

Posted by Soulskill
from the federal-amateur-hour dept.
New submitter StueyNZ writes "Justice Helen Winkelmann of New Zealand's High Court (non-appellate court) has ruled that the search warrants used to search and seize property from Kim Dotcom's Coatsville residence did not properly describe the offenses under which the search was being made. In particular, warrants did not make it clear that the breach of copyright law and money laundering offenses were U.S. federal offenses rather than NZ offenses. Therefore the search and seizure was illegal. I hope this means Mr. Dotcom gets his security footage back, which should shed some light on how many tourists from the FBI were present at the NZ police raid, and how many firearms those tourists were waving around as they joined in."
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Dotcom Search Warrants Ruled Illegal

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  • It's no surprise.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by intellitech (1912116) * on Thursday June 28, 2012 @07:46AM (#40477409)

    It's no surprise that this happened the way it did, and that the rest of the world really despises us because of the way our government throws it's weight around.

    I was once proud to be an american. Perhaps I still am, but my pride is severely diminished as of late.

    • by jamesh (87723) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:12AM (#40477573)

      It's no surprise that this happened the way it did, and that the rest of the world really despises us because of the way our government throws it's weight around.

      I was once proud to be an american. Perhaps I still am, but my pride is severely diminished as of late.

      I'm also both amused and terrified at how stupid the American government can be sometimes. That investigation and raid must have cost a lot of money to put together... why not do it properly? (eg no obvious cock-ups that get the whole thing thrown out of court).

      I wouldn't feel too ashamed though... my government can be just as stupid... it's just they don't have as much weight to throw around and so their stupidity tends to to be more localised and so less newsworthy.

      • by LordSnooty (853791) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:29AM (#40477719)
        They got the megaupload servers offline, with much publicity, even if the whole thing is overturned there's no way it's returning in its old form. I'm sure the US authorities are thinking, 'job done'.
        • by k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @09:17AM (#40478215)

          They got the megaupload servers offline, with much publicity, even if the whole thing is overturned there's no way it's returning in its old form. I'm sure the US authorities are thinking, 'job done'.

          That, or the US law en-forcers were actually attempting to follow the old thinking of how when the US asks something of a country it's on "friendly" terms with (e.g. allies), the US gets it. But maybe the world has changed. With things like social networking and Wikileaks-inspired news reporting, countries that would once "willingly" oblige might now be more fearful of the local backlash likely to be spawned by bending over a little for a "friend".

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28, 2012 @09:17AM (#40478219)

          I'm sure the US authorities are thinking, 'job done'.

          I think you mean: 'Mission Accomplished!'

          • by jamesh (87723)

            No I think a warcraft (or was it warcraft2) "Job Done" is just about perfect.

        • That's impossible (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @09:39AM (#40478459) Homepage Journal

          They got the megaupload servers offline, with much publicity, even if the whole thing is overturned there's no way it's returning in its old form. I'm sure the US authorities are thinking, 'job done'.

          But.. but.. that's impossible. The US government would never use force to create fear of vigilante justice in the minds of civilians, for purposes of effecting political or behavioral changes. Why? Because US government is against terrorism.

          • Re:That's impossible (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Internetuser1248 (1787630) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @11:06AM (#40479365)

            US government is against terrorism.

            I realise you are being sarcastic, but some other people probably think this is true. I would like to state for the record that the US has been convicted in international court of supporting terrorists [wikipedia.org] and ordered to pay reparations, which are still unpaid to date. In addition the US and Israel were the only two countries to vote against a UN resolution to combat terrorism [un.org] in the 80s when the whole war on terror thing was getting started.

            The US is resolutely pro terrorism in policy and has been for a long time, they are only anti terrorism in their PR and propaganda branches.

        • by C_amiga_fan (1960858) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @10:57AM (#40479283)

          I'm sure the U.S. authorities are not thinking anything, but instead picking-up the phone and telling Universal, "We followed your orders. Mission accomplished." Why Universal? Those are the guys that demanded Youtube remove the Megaupload Song in december. They even filed a lawsuit, which they lost.

          Then two weeks later the FBI raids and shutsdown megaupload. Coincidence? I don't think so. Pretty obvious Universal lost their case to remove the Megaupload Song, then called their buddies in D.C. and asked them to remove the company. Ultimately the U.S. government serves the corporations that donate money to its reelection campaigns.

        • by rahvin112 (446269) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @11:19AM (#40479509)

          If the warrants are invalid the seizures are invalid. That means he gets all his money that was in NZ back and he can pay lawyers to fight the case in the US. One of things the FBI tries to do is take away your ability to fight the case by seizing assets. If Dotcom has the money to pay fancy lawyers he just might win the US case and the FBI will get one huge black eye.

      • by Shagg (99693) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:46AM (#40477875)

        You're assuming they didn't "do it properly". I don't mean in the sense of following proper procedure, but in the sense of achieving their real goals. Maybe they didn't really care whether or not it got thrown out of court, but wanted to "throw their weight around" in order to ruin his business and intimidate others into shutting down out of fear that they would be next. If that was their goal, then it worked out perfectly.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        I'm also both amused and terrified at how stupid the American government can be sometimes. That investigation and raid must have cost a lot of money to put together... why not do it properly?

        The people who did this are probably arrogant enough to believe that sort of thing can always be covered up later.

        • by jimpop (27817) *

          > The people who did this are probably arrogant enough to believe that sort of thing can always be covered up later.

          Ha! The people who did this are probably arrogant enough to believe that sort of thing can always be placed on their CV they send to MPAA/BSA/etc. See: Revolving Door.

      • by artfulshrapnel (1893096) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @09:01AM (#40478029)

        ...That investigation and raid must have cost a lot of money to put together... why not do it properly? (eg no obvious cock-ups that get the whole thing thrown out of court).

        They didn't do it properly because what they wanted to do was not properly legal. The US government wanted to prosecute someone on NZ soil based on flimsy evidence provided by biased parties, without due authorization or process.

        Protip for US Law Enforcement: If something you want to do is against the law it doesn't mean the law is bad, nor does it mean the law should be rewritten/removed. It means what you want to do is wrong, and you shouldn't do it.

        • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @10:12AM (#40478819)

          It means what you want to do is wrong, and you shouldn't do it.

          It's not necessarily wrong because it's against the law. There is such a thing as a bad law.

      • by ebuck (585470) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @10:16AM (#40478853)

        That investigation and raid must have cost a lot of money to put together... why not do it properly?

        One distrubing issue on why such raids are handled so sloppily has to do with the laws covering the seizure of assets under certain circumstances. If they found any evidence of drug trafficing, for example, then the raid would literally have been profitable in the "you just lost all your assets to police auction" sense (after they use the assets to convict.

        Of course, that probably wouldn't happen in a foreign country as easily; but, it is the culture of police work that american police forces bring with them. More raids means more funding, and eventually you get desensitized to the relative merits of a raiding X over Y when they all are affordable.

    • by SJHillman (1966756) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:13AM (#40477575)

      It's possible to be proud to be American and ashamed of our government. Although we are a government of the people, the government and the country as a whole are not the same thing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Without government the country is just landmass. Landmass is nothing to be proud of.

        Pride is one's country is pride in one's government, unless of course you are proud of the random location you were born in for being arbitrarily better than x other location.

        • by Hizonner (38491) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:58AM (#40477987)

          Um, your culture? Your traditions? Your ancestry? You can't think of anything that somebody might use to define a country other than its location and its government?

          I think those things are BS, and I think patriotism is nothing but soft nationalism and needs to go away. But it's just absolutely idiotic to say that governments are all patriotic people have to be attached to. Or even that governments are what most of them are attached to.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Um, your culture? Your traditions? Your ancestry? You can't think of anything that somebody might use to define a country other than its location and its government?

            Yeah, but this is the United States of America you're talking about. There is no tradition. There is no culture except popular culture. There is no U.S. ancestry. Unless you're a native, you pretty much can trace your ancestry to some other part of the world within the past 500 years. And around 300 of those years were spent as Europeans. The U.S. has existed for not much more over 200 years, while other countries have existed culturally in some form or another for well over a millenium. There is none of th

        • Government has many levels. There are pockets of sanity still left in this country, but they've been marginalized by the fucking crazies for a few decades now.

          I'm proud of where I grew up, but where I grew up no longer exists. It's still physically there, but it's nothing like the neighborhood I grew up in, with the people I grew up with, and the sense of community that once existed there is long gone. Now people are more concerned about a mosque potentially going in than the fact that the number of peop

      • We've four times had presidents who lost the popular vote.
        • by Pope (17780)

          Good thing the electoral system was never set up to elect the President by popular vote.

          Oh, wait...

      • Oblgatory 'The Newsroom' rant clip:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h__uutzcQXc [youtube.com]

      • by hey! (33014)

        Although we are a government of the people ...

        ... for some value of the word "person".

    • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:25AM (#40477689)
      Here in the UK, you are despised for an extradition agreement which allows you to successfully have someone sent over for prosecution who has committed no crime under UK law and never even entered the US. America has long been seen as the global champion of freedom and equality, but the government over the last few administrations has been striving to correct this.
      • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:54AM (#40477941)

        America has long been seen as the global champion of freedom and equality

        Which is, of course, mainly due to American politicians repeating it over and over and over again, not necessarily because of anything we've actually done. Certainly not within any of our lifetimes...

        I chalk it up to the last bit of Cold War propaganda that's still kicking around in the global collective consciousness. Give it another generation or two and, much like all the lessons learned during the Great Depression that have gone right the fuck out the window, it will all be forgotten...

      • by i_ate_god (899684) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:56AM (#40477963) Homepage

        curious, why would you despise the US government for a treaty that the UK signed?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          The last government who agreed to sign us up for the treaty is also despised for its lack of backbone.
      • by DM9290 (797337)

        Here in the UK, you are despised for an extradition agreement which allows you to successfully have someone sent over for prosecution who has committed no crime under UK law and never even entered the US.

        Why are you despising the US for an agreement that your own government freely entered into, and enforces against you and your fellow citizens?

        All it would take is an act of parliament to guarantee no one shall be extradited on the grounds of an accusation of acts which were committed while the person was inside the UK. Your vulnerability to foreign prosecution in a foreign land is entirely your own government's fault.

    • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:28AM (#40477707)

      I've always maintained that the CIA has done more to damage to the U.S. over the years than any terrorist could ever dream of. Their work has built us up quite a long list of enemies too.

    • Yes, it's entirely the United States fault that world governments are slipping into totalitarianism.lol
      NZ made their own choices. As heavy handed and anti-freedom as our government is turning, NZ didn't need any coaxing to go along with this.
  • Jurisdiction (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tommy Bologna (2431404) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @07:48AM (#40477423)
    Whatever happened to the concept of jurisdiction?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They worked with New Zealand police. Or did you forget that part?

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @07:54AM (#40477463) Journal
      Citizen, citizen, nothing whatsoever has happened to the concept of jurisdiction. In fact, we value this legal principle so highly that we've been carefully collecting as many samples as possible, from as many areas of the world as possible, in order to better appreciate its value...
    • by symbolset (646467) *
      The US Justice department is infiltrated with agents of Big Media. They don't care what the law is, they know what they want it to be and they have power.
      • The US Justice department is infiltrated with agents of Big Media. They don't care what the law is, they know what they want it to be and they have power.

        Power without intelligence is like a rocket engine without a nozzle.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28, 2012 @07:57AM (#40477481)

      Jurisdiction died that fateful day when copyright pirates flew their torrents into the WTC. NEVER FORGET.

    • Don't you get it, we're all within the jurisdiction of the RIAA and MPAA...

  • Impressive... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @07:52AM (#40477441) Journal
    Has there, so far, been a single aspect of this case that didn't turn out to be an embarassing cock-up by the feds? Warrants not in order, video footage of the raid quietly goes missing, seized materials swiftly duplicated and fedexed out of NZ before anybody has a chance to object, Carpathia left sitting on tens of thousands a day in servers-in-legal-limbo, random megaupload customers who were using the place as a backup/transfer system locked out for months...

    Was somebody delusional enough to start out thinking that they had an open-and-shut case, and bodged it up? Did they start out thinking that; but start 'improvising' once it became clear that they didn't? Was the whole operation fully intended to be an incrementally-more-legal-than-just-having-a-Reaper-handle-it intimidation job?
    • Re:Impressive... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @07:58AM (#40477483)
      You seem to still think that this was about prosecuting Kim Dotcom. It wasn't.

      MegaUpload is done and dusted. There doesn't need to be a prosecution; It's Mission Accompllished. Dozens of similar sites shut their doors based upon these actions out of fear and intimidation, and that's what it was all about. "We're bigger than you, and we don't like what you're doing. We're going to beat seven shades of shit out of you in public, nobody is going to do a damn thing about it, and at the worst we'll get a strongly worded letter, which we'll use as toilet paper."
      • Re:Impressive... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:29AM (#40477721)

        Pretty much this. They needed to get the pirates using P2P again so that the new 6-strikes rules the ISPs are all implementing is actually enforceable, and they've got the deep pockets and the influence to do so.

        The cat and mouse game will continue as it always has, but at least this way they get John Q. Taxpayer to shoulder the cost of protecting their IP...

      • by nurb432 (527695)

        Right, mission was accomplished and the *AA is happy and didn't have to pay a dime to do it.

        However, it was short sighted as its only a temporary blip and it will cause the next batch of providers to be harder to catch, AND we burnt some bridges in the process.

      • Re:Impressive... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Thursday June 28, 2012 @09:05AM (#40478085)

        MegaUpload is done and dusted

        Yep, just like how The Pirate Bay got raided that one time and now they're gone forever.

        Kim Dotcom has way more money than a bunch of technically literate Swedish dudes. He'll do the same thing TPB did, though. He'll rebuild the site and make it as difficult as possible to take down on a technical level.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Personally, I don't think they (our shit USA gov't and law enforcement). They have accomplished what the big media companies donating hundred of millions or more to members of the gov't wanted; the operation shut down. Honestly, even if right now, everything goes back to normal for dot com, how long will it take for him to get everything back and running if he ever does? Did you read about the server the FBI seized and held for 13 month, basically are the request of the RIAA and while the RIAA tried to f

    • Which feds? The NZ ones for sure. However this doesn't say anything about warrants issued by US courts, so until it does it seems the seizure of servers located in the US is still a valid action.

      Whether evidence that was leaked out of NZ could be used in US court proceedings, I don't know, but surely there is a lot on the US based servers.

      I imagine this means there will still be attempts at extradition etc.

  • At Least... (Score:3, Funny)

    by sycodon (149926) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @07:52AM (#40477449)

    ...they didn't bring SWAT along, bust down her door and shoot her dog (and possible her).

    • Absent the shooting of pets, this is exactly what they did.
  • Well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28, 2012 @07:54AM (#40477467)

    I'm sure that'll make kim happy.
    Now that the goverment has destroyed his business and siezed a bunch of his assets.

    See, thats how serious the riaa is. Guy starts talking about promoting independant artists himself on his own site... And the riaa gets the usa goverment to stomp on him with both feet. ILLEGALLY!

    Such bullshit.

    • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by magic maverick (2615475) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:04AM (#40477523) Homepage Journal

      Not only does the "goverment has destroyed his business and siezed a bunch of his assets" (which government? please be clear), the damage done to his house, and the money spent in defence is all gone. He won't be compensated for damaged property, let alone mental anguish or similar.

      The police in NZ really fucked it up, and nothing will happen. The cop in charge won't even get a blackmark, let alone the judge who signed off on the illegitimate search warrant.

      It doesn't matter if this individual is the most foul and awful person ever, they deserve to be compensated (and not a mere pittance either, but damages plus extra) to discourage this sort of behaviour. And some of it should come out fo the pockets of those directly responsible.

      But no, we can't have that, we can't have any sort of fetters on the ability of the police to fuck up livelihoods, nor can we possibly actually hold accountable those responsible.

      (Most of the above post applies to all the world, not just NZ.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:02AM (#40477513)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvrRaeHD5TE&

  • MegaBoxed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wild_quinine (998562) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:05AM (#40477537) Homepage
    How interesting that Kim Dotcom has his assets seized and his business killed just a couple of months after announcing a new service called MegaBox that would have competed directly and legally with record labels.

    The bad news for those guys is that it's still good to go. I wonder if it will be successful.
    http://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-artists-rejoice-megabox-is-not-dead-120621/ [torrentfreak.com]

    • by Stickerboy (61554)

      How interesting that Kim Dotcom has his assets seized and his business killed just a couple of months after announcing a new service called MegaBox that would have competed directly and legally with record labels.

      The bad news for those guys is that it's still good to go. I wonder if it will be successful.

      http://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-artists-rejoice-megabox-is-not-dead-120621/ [torrentfreak.com]

      How interesting really is this? Not very. Bandcamp already does this [bandcamp.com]. Spotify already does this [spotify.com]. And, if megaupload was any indication, both services will be much better than megabox.

      • How interesting really is this? Not very.Bandcamp already does this [bandcamp.com]. Spotify already does this [spotify.com].

        Whataboutery, and irrelevance.

        This is a story about a Filelocker service that has been deemed to be a haven for piracy launching a legitmate service directly in collaberation with the artists themselves. Unlike BandCamp and Spotify what its success would tell you is that many Artists aren't having a problem getting into bed with a so called haven for piracy. And a good number of them may even be choosing it in preference to working with all those 'legitimate' labels.

        I would find that very interesting inde

  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:10AM (#40477559)
    Hey, the FBI takes cheating at Modern Warfare 3 VERY seriously, okay? (see Kim Dotcom's wikipedia page)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is a good example of how totalitarian police activity can help to turn a career criminal like Dotcom into a hero. Look at this guy objectively: Has he done a single thing in his whole life which was not about breaking one law after another for his own selfish benefit? Don't delude yourself: he wasn't doing any of this to free our culture from Big Media or even to give you shit without you having to pay for it. This has always been about benefiting himself.

  • "Helen Winkelmann Arrested on Rape Charge"

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:38AM (#40477807) Homepage

    will it be to have the USA send back to New Zealand those FBI officers who we now know committed illegal acts when they were last in New Zealand ?

    I can't see the USA giving this any attention other than to laugh at it .... but what would they say if it were the other way round ?

  • Payback (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:54AM (#40477947) Homepage Journal

    Sort of payback from NZ officials for being treated like they were by the FBI after they did their best to cooperate. Not real surprised to see a virtual bird flipping back.

    But, Kim was put out of business for a while, so the effect was the same. Short sighted goals.

  • by FeatherBoa (469218) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:57AM (#40477967)

    I wonder, when the dust settles, as I suppose it one day must, will anyone add up the appalling costs to the NZ taxpayers to play out this farce? The Crown is likely going to have to fold their entire case and may face liability for wrongful conduct. It's all well to say that the Americans have achieved their goals just by putting the fear of god into all the offshore quasi-ethical file-share outfits and screwing up Mega's business. But NZ taxpayers will face millions in court costs and lost police and prosecutor time sorting this out. If the costs are large, the embarrassment significant and the gains are negligible or non-existent, how many more times will NZ or other small powers accommodate American expeditions of this type so willingly?

    I think there's an onus on New Zealanders to complain to their parties about the policies that let this happen, use access to information to ferret out the complicit officials into the light of day. Make the costs and embarrassment of following though on this farce a political issue for the government.

  • I'd be asking for a separate cell in Gitmo.

    Kim might eat him! What is it about billionaires that makes the majority of them obese?

  • by davydagger (2566757) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @09:38AM (#40478455)
    This might be the waterloo for copyright enforcement, and outrageous demands by the DOJ worldwide. Think about it. Since an NZ court threw out American charges, other allied countries get the nuts to do the same. The government might have to resort to *gasp* diplomacy, or even trying to respect the rights of citizens to maintain credibility.
  • Name some names (Score:4, Interesting)

    by UnoriginalBoringNick (1562311) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @09:45AM (#40478531)

    After the media storm following the arrest of Mr. Dotcom - who has yet to be proved guilty of any crime - can we now hope to have published the names and photographs of all those who took part in these illegal acts. Not to mention descriptions of their homes, cars and financial assets.

    If the aim of the action was to scare all the other download sites out of business voluntarily I feel that natural justice requires the DOJ and NZ police forces get an example made of them to make sure they and other national police forces never try to perfom such egregiously illegal acts again.

    Way to go, MAFIAA/DOJ. You managed to convert someone most people would have loved to hate into a martyr.

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