Thursday, July 5, 2018

MegaUpload founder can be extradited to the US, says NZ appeals court | UNLIMITED | CMU

Kim Dotcom

MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom and three of his former colleagues can be extradited to the US to face charges of copyright crimes, according to New Zealand’s Court Of Appeal. Though Dotcom and his legal team have already confirmed their intent to take the matter to the country’s Supreme Court.

Prosecutors in America have been trying to extradite Dotcom et al for over six years now, ever since they shutdown the file-transfer and video sharing MegaUpload platform on copyright infringement grounds in 2012. But the former Mega men have been pursuing every possible legal option to try and stop that from happening. While also fighting various other legal battles over seized monies and content, and the conduct of law enforcement and other officials in Dotcom’s adopted home of New Zealand.

Whether or not Dotcom can be extradited under New Zealand’s extradition treaty with the US depends very much on what he is accused of. The courts have generally concurred with arguments put forward by Dotcom’s team that extradition is not possible on allegations of copyright infringement alone. However, prosecutors argue that the conduct of MegaUpload’s management in allegedly encouraging and facilitating infringement constitutes fraud, which would enable extradition.

A New Zealand court first said that the prosecution’s case was sufficient to allow extradition at the end of 2015, with that ruling being upheld last year. However, Dotcom et al took the case to New Zealand’s Court Of Appeal.

It issued its judgment earlier today, backing the lower court rulings. That judgment clarified that “an extradition hearing is not a trial – it is held to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to commit a person for trial on a qualifying offence”. With that in mind, the appeals court added, US prosecutors had presented “a clear prima facie case that the appellants conspired to, and did, breach copyright wilfully and on a large scale, for their commercial gain”. Which is sufficient to qualify for extradition.

Dotcom, of course, continues to deny the allegations made against him in the US, while also arguing that there are no grounds for extradition. He immediately hit out at the appeals court ruling this morning, while vowing to take the matter to Supreme Court.

He wrote in a statement: “My legal team are confident that the Supreme Court will hear the appeal given there are such significant legal issues at stake. Many importance cases in New Zealand are not won in the Court Of Appeal, or in the courts below, but are won when they reach the Supreme Court. My case will be one of those”.

Of course, if the case against Dotcom et al ever does reach an American courtroom, they will claim that MegaUpload enjoyed safe harbour protection and therefore cannot be held liable for any unlicensed content distributed over its networks by its users. Which would make this whole hoo haa a very interesting test of the copyright safe harbour provided under American law. So yeah, yet more safe harbours! Woo!


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