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.