Kim Dotcom extradition hearing begins in New Zealand

September 21, 2015 byNick Perry
Kim Dotcom extradition hearing begins in New Zealand
Kim Dotcom sits in the Auckland District Court during an extradition hearing in Auckland, New Zealand, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. U.S. extradition hearing against Megaupload co-founder Dotcom began Monday. Dotcom is the colorful German-born entrepreneur who started the Internet site Megaupload, which was shut down by federal authorities in 2012. (Jason Oxenham/New Zealand Herald via AP) AUSTRALIA OUT, NEW ZEALAND OUT

Kim Dotcom and three colleagues face an extradition hearing that began Monday in an Auckland courtroom. Dotcom is the colorful German-born entrepreneur who started the Internet site Megaupload, which was shut down by federal authorities in 2012. Here's what's at stake:

THE CASE: U.S. are trying to extradite Dotcom from his home in New Zealand to face trial in Virginia. His Megaupload site was once used by millions of people to store files and download songs and movies. Federal authorities accuse Dotcom of facilitating Internet piracy on a massive scale and have charged him with conspiracy to commit , racketeering and money-laundering. Dotcom argues that plenty of people used his site for legitimate reasons he can't be held responsible for those who chose to use it for illegal downloads. As well as Dotcom, the U.S. is also trying to extradite former Megaupload officers Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato.

THE HEARING: The hearing is expected to last about four weeks. U.S. prosecutors don't have to prove Dotcom and his colleagues are guilty. Instead, they have a lower legal bar: proving the men have a case to answer, also known as a prima facie case. It's similar to the level of proof that prosecutors would need to launch a criminal trial in the U.S.

THE DEFENSE: The defense has argued since his arrest that Dotcom should never have faced criminal charges and that any case against him should be heard in civil court. They argue that prosecutors have overplayed their hand, knowing they needed a criminal case to effect an . In an affidavit for the defense, Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig argues that criminal copyright infringement applies only to people who directly download or steal something and not to secondary parties like website operators. The defense also plans to argue the hearing should be delayed.

THE MONEY: Defense lawyers say that they have been hamstrung because Dotcom and his colleagues don't have access to their money in order to mount a robust defense. When Megaupload was shut down, prosecutors froze tens of millions of dollars in accounts in Hong Kong and New Zealand. New Zealand courts have since allowed Dotcom some living and legal expenses, but not enough to cover all his legal bills.

THE IMPLICATIONS: The case highlights the tensions between content creators, like the Hollywood studios who make movies and expect royalties for their work, and Internet sites that collect, curate or distribute content that others have made. Some argue the case could have broader implications for everyone from moviemakers and musicians to popular websites like YouTube and Google.

WHAT'S NEXT: Whichever side loses the extradition judgment is likely to appeal, setting off a new round of legal wrangling. That means even if Dotcom is extradited, it may be months or even years before he faces trial in the U.S.

Explore further: New Zealand's top court takes Kim Dotcom appeal

Related Stories

New Zealand's top court takes Kim Dotcom appeal

May 16, 2013

(AP)—New Zealand's highest court ruled Thursday that it will hear an appeal by Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and three colleagues as they seek to avoid extradition to the United States.

US prosecutors file for extradition of Kim Dotcom

March 5, 2012

(AP) -- Federal prosecutors in the United States have filed papers in New Zealand seeking the extradition of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and three of his colleagues, whom they accuse of making a fortune by helping Internet ...

Megaupload N. Zealand extradition case delayed

July 10, 2012

Megaupload boss Kim Dotcom's extradition case against US authorities has been delayed until next year amid legal wrangling in New Zealand over evidence disclosure, his lawyers said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Technology near for real-time TV political fact checks

January 18, 2019

A Duke University team expects to have a product available for election year that will allow television networks to offer real-time fact checks onscreen when a politician makes a questionable claim during a speech or debate.

Privacy becomes a selling point at tech show

January 7, 2019

Apple is not among the exhibitors at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, but that didn't prevent the iPhone maker from sending a message to attendees on a large billboard.

China's Huawei unveils chip for global big data market

January 7, 2019

Huawei Technologies Ltd. showed off a new processor chip for data centers and cloud computing Monday, expanding into new and growing markets despite Western warnings the company might be a security risk.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Sep 21, 2015
Hey let's waste more money on trying to prosecute someone for file sharing. The courts are in the corporations pockets!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.