Julian Assange and Wikileaks have been fertile sources for blog posts here in the past:
- On The Recent Withdrawal of Rape Charges Against Julian Assange of WikiLeaks (August 21, 2010)
- The Real Lessons of WikiLeaks for Lawyers: Non-Social Media Version (December 7, 2010)
- Charon QC Scores a Blawger’s Coup with an Interview of Julian Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens (December 10, 2010)
- Whose Side of the Cyberwar Are You On? (December 11, 2010)
- So What Sexual Crimes Has Julian Assange Been Charged With Exactly? (December 15, 2010)
- Roger Alford Needs to Look Up the Word “Hypocrisy” (December 20, 2010)
- Google and Wikileaks: The Laybrinth Which Leads to Tyranny (January 8, 2011)
- Julian Assange: Citizen of the World, But Under Whose Jurisdiction? (January 11, 2011)
- Wikileaks, Classified Cables and The Canadian Security of Information Act (April 29, 2011)
Many readers are likely following the byzantine jurisdictional and procedural challenges waged by Assange in his fight against his extradition from the UK to Sweden (en route to the U.S.) to be “questioned” by the Swedish prosecutor about alleged sexual assault/rape allegations (note that Assange has yet to be formally charged).
Legal pundits and arm chair commentators abound, but I commend readers to Mike Semple Piggot’s excellent podcast interview of Francis FitzGibbon QC on the Assange asylum bid.
As this political and legal drama unfolds, for those with a penchant for esoteric legal academic analysis on Wikileaks, state secrets and copyright law, James Freedman (Student-at-law, Stanford Law School) has posted “Protecting State Secrets as Intellectual Property: A Strategy for Prosecuting WikiLeaks” Stanford Journal of International Law Vol. 48, No. 1, p. 185, 2012. Here’s the abstract:
Criminal statutes generally deployed against those who leak classified government documents — such as the Espionage Act of 1917 — are ill-equipped to go after third-party international distribution organizations like WikiLeaks. One potential tool that could be used to prosecute WikiLeaks is copyright law. The use of copyright law in this context is rarely mentioned, and when it is, the approach is largely derided by experts, who decry it as contrary to the purposes of copyright. Using copyright to protect state secrets, however, particularly if done through suit in a foreign court, escapes a number of the impediments to a WikiLeaks prosecution, such as the limited scope of narrowly tailored U.S. criminal statutes or the need to apply U.S. law extraterritorially and extradite defendants. Admittedly, using copyright law for these purposes presents its own set of problems, perhaps most intractable under U.S. law, but still significant in the case of suits brought in a foreign court under foreign law. This Note will explore these difficulties, such as the government works issue, potential fair use or fair dealing defenses, as well as various non-legal obstacles to success, eventually reaching the conclusion that prosecuting WikiLeaks internationally for copyright violations is potentially more viable than any of the methods of criminal prosecution heretofore explored publicly by government attorneys and legal scholars.
Download a pdf copy of the paper via SSRN here.