This week the U.S. Department of Justice awarded $2.4 million in grants to continue their ongoing ‘war on piracy’.
The money will make it possible for police departments to dedicate more personnel to fight intellectual property “theft”, and counter the claimed devastation of individual lives and legitimate businesses that comes with it.
“Without question, these new investments are coming at a critical time. As our country continues to recover from once-in-a-generation economic challenges, the need to defend IP rights – and to protect Americans from IP theft – has never been more urgent,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.
Holder also used the announcement to emphasize the successes booked by the Justice Department so far, achievements not just limited to the homeland either. Holder explains that the department has schooled thousands of people across the world on piracy and counterfeiting issues.
“Because IP crime is global in nature, I’ve prioritized increasing our international engagement. In fact, to date, Department officials have trained, educated, and met with thousands of foreign judges, prosecutors, investigators, and policymakers from more than 100 countries on IP protection,” Holder noted.
While it is no secret that the U.S. is helping foreign countries rewrite their copyright laws, it came as a surprise to us that judges are also being influenced by the Justice Department. Judges are supposed to be impartial and are generally quite aware of the law already.
However, Holder’s comments suggest that the U.S. was able to school judges on IP crime.
While this may have worked in some cases, there are signs that not all upholders of the law are siding with the U.S. stance. Talking about copyright related issues, New Zealand’s District Court Judge David Harvey criticized the U.S. push for harsher copyright laws.
“..we have met the enemy and he is [the] U.S,” Harvey said, a comment that made him later resign from the Kim Dotcom extradition battle.
That brings us to the Megaupload case, which was also referenced by Holder in his speech. According to the Attorney General the controversial raids and arrests are something to gloat about.
“In this year alone, we have prosecuted a number of significant IP cases,” Holder states.
“For example, in January – in one of the largest criminal copyright cases in U.S. history – the Department indicted two corporations and seven individuals with operating an international organized criminal enterprise responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works, through Megaupload.com and other related sites.”
This is an interesting comment since the Megaupload prosecution has been widely criticized by legal experts and it may yet turn out to be a fiasco for the Justice Department. Thus far most successes have been claimed by Kim Dotcom and his legal team.
But perhaps, with the proper education and training of New Zealand judges, the Justice Department will be able to turn the case in their favor.