Following a long battle with U.S. authorities, a New Zealand judge ruled that the U.S. has enough evidence to support a case against Kim Dotcom and can seek his extradition. Dotcom is well known for co-creating the former file-sharing website Megaupload.com and is accused of carrying out the largest copyright infringement in U.S. history.
From 2005 to 2012 Megaupload.com was one of the largest file-sharing sites in the world, allowing users to illegally download songs and movies.
New Zealand Judge Nevin Dawson ruled that Dotcom and co-creators Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato could be taken to the U.S. to face charges of money laundering, wire fraud, and racketeering, charges which could land the men in jail for several decades. The U.S. indictment covered a total of 13 charges. According to Judge Dawson the U.S. does have a legitimate case, but the judge was not asked to ruled on whether or not he felt the men were responsible for causing harm.
Judge Dawson’s ruling is the latest in a four year battle which started in January 2012 after New Zealand police raided Dotcom’s mansion in cooperation with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations. The raid, carried out by dozens of heavily armed agents and two police helicopters, was challenged by critics as an unnecessary show of force for the charges. Wired called the raid a “paramilitary assault reserved for drug lords, murderers, and terrorists, not copyright infringers.”
“I’m disappointed,” Dotcom told reporters as he left the courtroom. Dotcom’s lawyer stated that they will appeal the decision but offered no further information about the case. Dotcom and his team have until February 12 to appeal the decision.
Legality of Extradition
The case of Kim Dotcom and his co-conspirators has sparked an important discussion on whether or not the United States has the right to extradite a man for violating the laws of a nation he has never even visited. When one violates the laws of a foreign nation via the internet can they legally be held responsible? And with what nation and law enforcement agency does the responsibility lie?
Supporters of Dotcom and his crew believe that the authorities have a laundry list of trumped up charges because the original accusations of copyright infringement are not enough to garner support for extradition. By forcing Dotcom to defend himself, the authorities will not only drain his bank account but tie him up in legal battles for years to come.
To be clear, the U.S. is waging a losing battle against movie and music downloads. The internet has created an abundance of options for individuals in pursuit of pirated data and media. Despite the raid on Dotcom and the subsequent halting of downloads at the original Megaupload.com, file sharing and downloading continues in 2016. The best the authorities can hope for is to create headaches and temporary barriers for those seeking downloads. The reality is that Pandora’s box is open and anyone who seeks out pirated content will have no trouble finding it.