File-Sharing Protest Bomb Threat Video Lands Teenager in Court

A teenager who appears to have taken his protest against an anti-piracy law a little too far will find himself in court tomorrow. The 18-year-old allegedly posted a video on YouTube protesting the legislation just passed by New Zealand. In it he claimed that websites would be hacked and that explosives had been planted in government buildings.

According to New Zealand Police, a teenager will appear in court tomorrow after posting a video to the Internet earlier this month.

The 18-year-old, who is reportedly an opponent of New Zealand’s just-introduced “3 Strikes” Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011, allegedly took his anti-legislation demonstration too far, by announcing that websites were going to be hacked and that government buildings had been rigged with explosives.

The man from South Auckland was subsequently tracked down by local police with the assistance of the National Cyber Crime Centre and the Electronic Crime Laboratory.

He was charged with making Threats of Harm to People or Property under the Crimes Act 1961, an offense carrying a maximum sentence of 7 years in prison.

“Such threats are taken very seriously by Police and this investigation demonstrates Police has the expertise and resources to trace those who make such threats on the internet,” said Acting Detective Inspector Pete Jones.

Under the new anti-filesharing legislation, those who are discovered uploading copyright material are first sent two warnings via their ISP. On receipt of a third, copyright holders can take Internet account holders to the Copyright Tribunal where they will face fines of up to $15,000 and disconnection.

Unfortunately the evidence gathered by rights holders is only accurate enough to identify an ISP account from where an infringement took place, and is unable to identify actual infringers. The New Zealand government dealt with this eventuality by making account holders responsible for infringements even if they didn’t carry them out.

This has annoyed a wide cross-section of New Zealand society and generated a number of both peaceful and law-abiding protests. Inevitably though, in highly-charged situations and with a backdrop of the ‘Anonymous’-style direct action cyber-protests of recent months, some people will overstep the mark.

The facts of the case will be heard tomorrow when the 18-year-old appears in court, but considering the charges it seems clear the authorities believe that he had no intention of carrying out any threats.

On this basis it will be interesting to see how the man is dealt with. A man who made a 6 minute-long call to police in August claiming that an airplane passenger was carrying a bomb was said to be only facing a bill for the call and a charge of wasting police time.

An interesting footnote is that since the anti-filesharing legislation was introduced earlier this month, not a single warning has been sent out to Internet subscribers, reportedly because rightsholders haven’t paid up the required $25 per notice admin fee.

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