Home' Greymouth Star : September 21st 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, September 21, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
19 BC - Death of Virgil, epic Roman poet.
1327 - King Edward II of England is
murdered in Berkeley Castle; he is succeeded by
his son Edward III.
1745 - In Battle of Prestonpans in Scotland,
Jacobite army of just over 3000 under
Bonnie Prince Charlie defeats the
English Royal forces led by Sir John
1832 - Death of Sir Walter Scott,
Scottish novelist and poet, aged 61.
1938 - A hurricane kills more than
700 people in New England (US).
1964 - Malta becomes independent state
within British Commonwealth.
1974 - US film actor Walter Brennan dies. He
was the first actor to win three Academy Awards
and best known for his roles in westerns such as
My Darling Clementine.
1994 - Prosecutors announce that child
molestation charges will not be filed against
singer Michael Jackson; but the case will remain
open until 1999.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
H G Wells, English author (1866-
1946); Larry Hagman, US television actor
(1931-2012); Leonard Cohen, Canadian poet-
songwriter (1934-); Stephen King, US author
(1947-); Bill Murray, US actor (1950-); Kevin
Rudd, former Australian prime
minister (1957-); Nancy Travis,
US actress (1961-); Rob Morrow,
US actor (1962-); Faith Hill, US
country singer (1967-); Ricki Lake,
US tv host (1968-); Liam Gallagher,
British rock musician (1972-);
Nicole Richie, US socialite (1981-);
Jason Derulo, US pop singer (1989-).
“ We believe at once in evil, we only believe in
good upon reflection. Is this not sad?”
— Madame Dorothee Deluzy, French actress
“ You have made known to me the path of life;
You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with
eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”
— (Psalm 16:11).
A week will tell if
problem has been
solved. A new mix of
chips and bitumen has been laid around town
and indications are that it will be completely
successful and solve the chronic problem of
In the corner of a shed in the gasworks
yard lies a big heap of shiny black chips, their
coating of bituman making the whole ‘tacky’
but still able to be shovelled. They are the end
product of weeks of experiment by borough
engineer Mr W R Beyk and the council staff,
to solve the problem that has plagued road
repairing in the town with the use of imported
mixes or water-based emulsions.
Providing council staff with a good “wet
weather” job, all that is needed to manufacture
the new mix is the chips, the bitumen, a giant
gas ring on which to heat it and then an old
concrete mixer in which the lot is stirred.
Mr Beyk said this morning that the
weekend’s rain would provide all the proof
needed to test the new mix.
In a field of 12, 14-year-old Tommy Neal, of
Atarau, had a big win in a recent ploughing
competition held at Tapawera, Nelson. The
contest was conducted by the Nelson Young
Farmers’ Club and entries were from all parts
of the northern South Island.
Tommy won the award for the best ploughed
plot in the competition and won by a margin of
20 points from the next nearest competitor.
Son of Mr and Mrs W T Neal, of Atarau, the
young ploughman has done little ploughing
and has picked up most of his technique
by watching his father who attends many
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (office)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
inn Batato walks naked into
a maelstrom today. He faces
decades in jail but has little
money and none of it to spare
for a lawyer to defend himself
in the biggest copyright case
the world has seen.
“I ’m optimistic,” he says, but it’s hard
to imagine why. Perhaps it is because the
alternative is too bleak, with two young
sons at the modest North Shore home
he shares with their mother, Anastasia.
They married last month — it seemed
mad but the couple were determined
their life would not be entirely ruled by
It is almost four years since the FBI
brought the filesharing company crashing
down. Batato, the website’s advertising
manager, was paid well but never enjoyed
the cash the shareholding defendants
What little remains now sustains the
young family and even then it is running
out. A lawyer is an impossible indulgence
— too expensive to have and too costly to
And so, facing the possibility of decades
in jail, Batato will defend himself as best
as he is able.
The extradition hearing — long delayed
— has finally arrived. Though there are
applications for a delay, those who have
watched the case have a sense Judge Nevin
Dawson wants to get the meat of it. Will
they stay or will they go?
Judge Dawson does not have to find that
the law was broken. Instead, he is required
to find whether there is enough evidence
to warrant the matter going to trial, where
that finding would be made.
The men have been charged with
copyright violation, taking part in a
criminal conspiracy and money laundering.
They cannot be extradited on copyright
charges. It is not serious enough. Instead,
the United States wants them extradited
for money laundering and criminal
conspiracy. Those alleged crimes only
exist if copyright breaches are found to
have happened. It is a teetering tower of
criminality built on the least serious of the
Kim Dotcom has as legal counsel the
aggressively brilliant Ron Mansfield.
Megaupload’s genius programmers
Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk
have Queen’s Counsel Grant Illingworth,
whose competence is such he that has
acted for judges in the past.
They will need the legal might. The
Government ’s lawyers, led by the elegant
and scalpel-sharp Queen’s Counsel
Christine Gordon, have invested more
than 30,000 hours into cases related to
the Megaupload raid, according to Crown
Law Office figures.
The other lawyers are not allowed to help
Batato. There is a court-appointed lawyer,
whose job is to make sure Batato follows
the legal form but he is also bound from
assisting. On one occasion Batato rose to
argue his point and was praised after wards
by the lawyers acting for others. “I was
kind of proud about that,” he says.
The lawyers’ benches are stacked with
folders of evidence, case law, submissions
and legal esoterica. Batato’s is bare, usually,
except for a pad on which he determinedly
and diligently takes notes, as if it were
an exam which, if passed, would win him
“It’s intimidating. I’ve never been
charged with anything, I’ve never done
anything wrong in my life. It’s frustrating
to be in that situation. What can I say in
court? I can join in submissions if they are
“Sometimes I make a couple of my own
. . . but I have to hope the other lawyers will
make a good job.
“I can’t quote case law from 1965 or
Canadian or UK cases. I can’t. How am I
supposed to do that?”
Batato and the other defendants have
always maintained their innocence. They
say they ran Megaupload in line with strict
legal advice, removing links to copyrighted
content when alerted to it. “I would never
have done anything, ever, semi-criminal
or anything that would result in any legal
difficulties for me,” he says.
But the four, who are facing charges
in the United States, have long stopped
believing the prosecution they face is
justified. Instead, they believe the US
Government is acting for a Hollywood
threatened by the inevitable damage
the internet will have on its business
So, innocent as Batato says he is, he
concedes the worst is possible. “ The
implications if it goes not well for us is
extremely stressful and terrible to think
He and Anastasia started dating when he
was under house arrest, not long after the
police raid on Dotcom’s manor in January
Her friends questioned her state of mind
— they assumed the four accused were
guilty in the wake of the dramatic raid.
The couple fell for each other, they say,
while waiting for everyone to come to
their senses. She recalls how “ we thought
August would be the maximum amount of
time and it would be finished”.
Really, says Finn Batato, it was meant
to be over by now. “ I thought it would
actually crystallise that this is not a
criminal case much earlier. ”
There were delays — questions over the
police raid and the processes which were
not followed, revelations of illegal spying
— a nd arguments over what evidence
would be presented.
Then came Leo, who is now two, and
then, seven months ago, Oskar.
The charges — “of course it is not right
what they claim” — could put him away
for decades. “ That of course is like a death
sentence then. If you’re talking 30, 40, 50
years, it is a death sentence for what is
actually a civil copyright case.”
“The constant pressure over your head —
not knowing what is there to come, is very
hard, very tough. Everything that happens
in our life happens with that big black
cloud over our heads which especially has
an impact on me and my mood because I
can’t just switch it off. I wish there would
be a button where you can just press it and
the case goes away for a couple of days. It
doesn’t matter how fun and nice the times
are, it is always still lingering above you.”
He considers Leo, who is old enough to
interact, and wonders “how much longer
will I see him”.
He talks with his son in German.
“If everything goes down the hill, maybe
I will see him once every month in a
prison cell. That breaks my heart. I can’t
enjoy it as much as I would want to. It ’s
Batato was never meant to be in New
Zealand when the raid happened. He
should have been in Germany. Plans
changed and next thing he knew he was in
a cell in Mount Eden prison.
“If I would have been in Germany then
I would not have had the chance to raise
a family with Anastasia. There is also
something good and that is what we focus
on when we think about it and talk about
Mrs Batato talks of the “happy moments
new families have” being “tainted by this
background tension of not knowing what
the future holds.
“ You’re so scared. It ’s terrifying to think
Finn might spend the rest of his life in
prison. To raise a family on that ... to have
that fear makes everything not as special
as it could be.”
They had to take life back for themselves,
where they could. “ We decided we can’t
put our lives on hold forever. We thought
‘is it the right time to even have a child’
but it’s never really the right time. Every
parent knows that.”
Batato, admittedly a proud man, resisted
marriage because he did not “want to
appear like I’m getting married to stay in
the country or something. But we can’t
wait forever. At some stage you have to
move on with your life.”
Last month, with the help of family and
friends exchanged vows atop a hill above
Lake Wakatipu. The wedding photographs
play on a television screen on the wall
of their modest North Shore rental. A
modest car — a Volkswagen — is parked
in the drive. It is not all millionaires and
mansions in the Megaupload case.
Before Megaupload, Batato was managing
director of the German office of Europe’s
largest independent advertising sales house.
He had known Dotcom since they were
teenagers and in 2007 — entranced by the
internet as the future of business — joined
Megaupload as chief marketing and sales
He earned good money — the FBI
documents record him being paid
$630,000 in 2010. That was the big year
for Megaupload, when they all picked up
the benefits of earlier, tougher years. Batato
saved his money, but it was seized in
Hong Kong, when the FBI raids took
place. Legal action has released enough to
cover his living expenses. “I am currently in
a situation where I would run out of funds
at the beginning of next year.
“The case changed a lot of financial
things for me and then for us as a family.
Yeah, that sucks if every third week or
every month you have to check your bank
account if you can go grocery shopping. But
we are coping. We are a strong little family.
We can deal with that. Money doesn’t make
you happy. The money is not really the
essential thing in life. It makes things easier
but it’s not really essentially important to
Mrs Batato: “I think as a family the
stressful thing about the money is that
eventually it will run out. The unknown is
what comes next. What if Finn can’t work?
It ’s so unknown. It’s not knowing how long
it can last or how long it needs to last.”
Though Batato admits to a private anger,
Mrs Batato describes her feelings as more
of frustration and sadness. “Since the case
has dragged on so long, I got really bad
anxiety and I had to increase my anti-
anxiety medication. I feel I have to be
stronger for Finn because what he is going
through is so much worse than what I’m
going through, although I’m going through
it with him.
“I feel I have to hold myself together
when it comes to the times when you want
to be angry, or you want to cry about it or
want to think or talk about the future. It ’s
hard. It ’s just hard.”
There is a difficulty in looking for work
— “that ’s the Dotcom guy,” he says,
mimicking a prospective employer. “It ’s not
only my past good reputation they killed
with this case — and I had a very good
reputation — but it is also the future.”
In the beginning, the four defendants
were tight but it did not remain easy.
“The longer it took the more tension
built up.” Batato still sees the other three
regularly but relations between Dotcom
and the others is not as good as they have
been. Dotcom recently began publicly
attacking Mega, the company the four
built and in which his co-accused still hold
It should have been settled earlier but
the opposing sides are now “just like two
stubborn bulls are running into each other”.
“Everyone can only lose — it ’s money, face,
reputation. Everyone can only lose in this
case. There is no winner.”
The extradition case:
a beginner’s guide
In 2012, the FBI launched raids
worldwide, aimed at bringing down the
Hong Kong-based Megaupload website.
Of the seven people listed on the
indictment, four were arrested at the time
— m ajority shareholder Kim Dotcom,
minority shareholders Mathias Ortmann
and Bram van der Kolk and advertising
manager Finn Batato. The seven sought
by the FBI were accused of running a
criminal conspiracy that centred on massive
copyright violation. They were also accused
of money laundering.
What was Megaupload?
It was a website to which users could
upload files and obtain links to then share
with others. It was known as a place where
users could access movies and music
without paying. But it was also a place
which offered copyright holders a ser vice
by which they could identify links to
copyrighted material which would then be
removed. Users were also warned not to
upload copyrighted material.
What happens in court next week?
It is an extradition hearing, which could
see the four men sent to the US District
Court of East Virginia to face trial on
the charges. Judge Nevin Dawson is not
required to find guilt. His job is to find out
if there is enough evidence to suggest there
is a case to answer. In other words — has
the United States shown the charges should
have been laid?
That does not sound complicated — is
It is not as simple as showing users
accessed copyrighted material from
Megaupload. In that case, it is the users
who might have violated copyright. There
is no criminal charge for second-degree
copyright violation. It is also not enough to
show direct copyright violation because that
is not an offence for which people can be
extradited. Instead, it will have to be shown
that there is enough evidence to support
accusations of conspiracy and money
Is there enough evidence to support
conspiracy and money laundering
The FBI thinks so. The defendants
believe not. Showing a breach of criminal
copyright is vital because if it can be
shown as systemic then it transforms
business transactions and meetings into the
laundering of illegally obtained money and
conspiracy to commit crime.
What evidence did the FBI have?
Investigators had accessed massive
amounts of e-mail communication between
the accused, and detailed exchanges they
said supported the charges. Some of the
exchanges were compelling — in one, van
der Kolk said: “ We are the pirates here”.
And what did the defendants say?
They said the FBI evidence was a self-
serving stitch-together of e-mails designed
to support a case that was motivated by
Hollywood pressure on Washington.
Was the case motivated by Hollywood?
Hollywood certainly pushed Washington
to go hard on filesharing websites,
including Megaupload. In 2010, the
White House made intellectual property
— a nd copyright — an issue of national
security. The movie and music industry
was described as a cornerstone of the US
economy and in need for protection from
rogue internet businesses.
Was Megaupload a rogue business?
It was a registered Hong Kong company
that paid tax and hired staff in a number
of countries. It sold advertisements, had
paying customers and sought and received
extensive legal advice. It had no offices in
the US and its founder Kim Dotcom had
never been to the country.
How is it the US’ business?
That is an interesting question because
there are different copyright laws in
many countries. The original prosecutor,
Neil McBride, the US attorney for East
Virginia, said in 2012: “I’m convinced that
most e-mails in the world at some point
transit through servers that sit somewhere
in the Eastern District of Virginia, so
that gives us venue.” By venue, he means
jurisdiction, and that means US law travels
with the internet.
— New Zealand Herald
PICTURE: New Zealand Herald
Van der Kolk, left, Dotcom, Ortmann and Finn Batato outside the High Court in 2012 for a hearing over search warrants used
in the raid on Dotcom’s mansion.
Dotcom faces the music
A pioneering Australian scheme to
improve the management of water in the
world’s driest inhabited continent is facing
its first real test as an intensifying El Nino
threatens crops and builds tensions between
farmers and environmentalists.
The three-year old management plan for
the Murray-Darling basin, an area twice
the size of Spain and home to 40% of
Australia’s agricultural output, has been
lauded internationally and suggested as a
guide for drought-hit California.
Forged in the wake of a ruinous 14-year
drought, the scheme set up a market-based
water trading system, improved co-
operation across state borders and focused
on efficient water usage.
“All of these lessons are appropriate to
the United States,” said water policy expert
professor David Feldman of the University
of California, Irvine, where the state is
suffering from a four-year dry spell that
has threatened agriculture and helped fan
severe wildfires this summer.
Australia’s Murray-Darling basin
encompasses two major river systems
in Australia’s south-east, but years of
siphoning off water to irrigate crops has
devastated water ways, creating dried-out
wetlands and acidic soils, toxic algal blooms
that threaten animal and human health,
and high levels of salinity.
A 2012 water management plan instituted
a raft of water-saving measures, and set
up a market-based system where farmers
who have been allocated water rights
under decades-old systems can trade their
Under the scheme, the government buys
water to keep the river healthy, farmers can
buy water to irrigate crops in lean years
or during the hot summer season, and
investors are also welcome.
But changes to the Australian plan amid
a resurgent El Nino weather pattern have
worried environmentalists who say its
reputation and credibility are now at risk.
The plan initially met little resistance in
rural areas, but dry weather this year has
depleted some dams that store river water,
forcing farmers to accept big cuts in their
The loss is particularly hard for summer
crops that rely heavily on irrigation like
cotton, rice and sorghum. Australia is the
world’s fourth-largest exporter of cotton.
Cotton accounts for about $1.4 billion in
export earnings, or about 7% of total crop
earnings, and production is forecast to fall
nearly 10% in the year to end-June 2016
from last year’s five-year low.
While the dry weather is hastening a shift
from water-intensive crops like cotton and
rice, it has also sparked calls for changes
to the management plan as farmers say
too much water is being used for the
While farmers can buy water on market,
prices have jumped sharply to more than
$145 a megalitre in some regions — well
in excess of viable limits for many, who
argue that having to compete with the
government has driven up prices.
Australian lawmakers last week nearly
halved the amount of water the government
can buy from local farmers, instead giving
farmers subsidies to save water that would
then be available for sale.
Environmentalists and some academics
question the changes, which the Australian
Conser vation Foundation (ACF) says will
cost up to five times the market rate of
buying water, while there is also a physical
limit on how much can be saved.
This week, the government transferred
management of Australia’s water resources
from the Department of the Environment
to the Department of Agriculture, a move
long sought by rural bodies.
“It introduces a remarkable conflict of
interest between a minister whose job it is
to promote the agricultural industry and
now under this arrangement, a minister
who will be responsible for securing the
health of water resources that are used by
that industry,” ACF campaigner Jonathan
La Nauze said.
Academics say the scheme has had some
success in improving the health of the river
system, and will sur vive in its basic form
given the importance of the basin to all
“Any tinkering will be at the edges and
not the core,” Willem Ver voort, associate
professor in hydrology and catchment
management, the University of Sydney said.
“If the water quality keeps deteriorating
then the irrigators are out of business. In
the end, the irrigators have a stake in the
The University of California’s Feldman
said legal and political differences would
make it difficult to implement parts of the
Australian system in the United States,
where water rights remain linked to
However, the lessons for California
included overcoming the fragmented
authority for water management and
getting public buy-in on how to best save
and use water, he said. — Reuters
Drought exposes cracks in Australian water basin
A farmer walks past a mobile irrigation boom on a dying oat crop on his farm in the
heart of Australia’s Murray-Darling river basin outside Moulamein, west of Canberra.
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