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Intellectual Crimes Require No Borders

BEFORE he was extradited to the United States, Hew Griffiths, from Berkeley Vale in NSW, had never even set foot in America. But he had pirated software produced by American companies.

Now, having been given up to the US by former justice minister Chris Ellison, Griffiths, 44, is in a Virginia cell, facing up to 10 years in an American prison after a guilty plea late last month.


Griffiths, a Briton, has lived in Australia since the age of seven. From his home base on the central coast of NSW, he served as the leader of a group named Drink Or Die, which "cracked" copy-protected software and media products and distributed them free of cost. Often seen with long hair and bare feet, Griffiths did not make money from his activities, and lived with his father in a modest house.

But Drink or Die's activities did cost American companies money — an estimated $US50 million ($A60 million), if legal sales were substituted for illegal downloads undertaken through Drink or Die. It also raised the ire of US authorities.


On top of a possible 10-year jail term, Griffiths could be fined $US500,000. (By way of comparison, the average sentence for rape in Victoria is six years and 10 months.)

Any Australian who has pirated software worth more than $US1000 could be subject to the same extradition process as Griffiths was. "Should not the Commonwealth Parliament do more to protect Australians from this procedure?" Justice Young asked in his article. Others, however, argue that extradition is necessary to prevent internet crimes that transcend borders.

Perhaps we should all use out Vote-For-Me-Tax-Refunds to pay for a lawyer?

The problems with this are, of course, many, but lets just focus on the main one, which is that the Australian government is continuing to sell out its citizens to America for difference of opinion. David Hicks, perhaps the most famous of the people Australia sold out to the States, was not a terrorist: he was simply a person with a different ideological head space than the American government at the time. That defines anyone who is pretty much a terrorist, mind you, and fuck it, the sooner that word goes away, the better we're all going to be; but the problem is, the Australian government made no attempt to defend its citizen's difference in thought. The same is taking place here, with Griffiths. It may be difficult to see my logic here, since in both cases, there is a 'crime', but in both these cases, the crimes, as they are, are not ones for which the citizenship of the individual should be stripped away and they should end up in the international court of the USA. Australia, though we may at times think this, is not Little America, and the people whose international citizenship is Australian, cannot, and fucking should not, be tried as if they were Americans and subject to American law and jail time.

If international law requires that an Australian citizen be tried and sentenced, then it is to be done by Australians, not Americans, and if the government would stop selling out its citizens to America, it might just go a little way to actually being a government you could respect. You don't see the fucking British selling out their people and we're their god-damned fucking colony.



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May. 10th, 2007 12:11 am (UTC)
Much though I TOTALLY agree with you, is "Griffiths, a Briton" perhaps the key here? Maybe the dude isn't an Australian citizen, which would make things trickier for Australia.

Still, I think there's an additional concern to the ones you've raised, which is that internet users intuitively understand that the internet is another country - that one country can't legislate across the whole internet, or make their corner of the internet conform to their particular preferences. It's almost as if the US believes that anything done on the internet that affects their interests is automatically "being done in the USA".
I mean, the USA tries this kind of trick in non-internet-related circumstances (patent laws, for instance), but I get the feeling that the US is just as unenlightened when it comes to the openness of the net as China is - just in different contexts...
May. 10th, 2007 02:24 am (UTC)
yes, i did wonder about the griffiths, a briton, part, but then in the same article it talks about how british men and women have been tried in their own country...

america does seem to have a problem understanding the net. one i think a lot of countries and people do.
May. 10th, 2007 02:04 am (UTC)
Its the cowardice of the situation that shits me. The US barks and Australia bends over and drops its pants every time.
May. 10th, 2007 02:24 am (UTC)
yeah, i agree.
May. 10th, 2007 02:31 am (UTC)
The difference between the Australian Govt and the New Zealand Govt with relation to the US was explained to me once as being thus:

The position of US ambassador to NZ always goes to a career public servant. But the position of US ambassador to Australia goes to an American presidential crony. Someone who contributed $$ to the election campaign and is owed a favour in return. The Aussie post is a cushy job.
May. 10th, 2007 02:43 am (UTC)
i would have just assumed that, actually.
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