The man behind filesharing site Megaupload is to get back cash and property seized when his house was raided in 2012. But while Kim Dotcom seems to be having a great time right now, he still faces the threat of extradition.
US officials want Dotcom to stand trial for criminal copyright infringement in a case which would test the limits of what a file hosting site can and can’t legally do. In the case of the Megaupload case the legal argument isn’t so much that the site was used by customers to share copyrighted material but rather that the site specifically rewarded customers who shared the most popular material.
Prosecutors are ready to argue in court that Dotcom knew full well such material was almost certain to be copyrighted and thus explicitly encouraged and enabled illegal sharing. Dotcom looks set to argue that he never explicitly encouraged anyone to share illegal material, and if that’s what turned out to be the most popular way to use the site, so be it.
Dotcom became a resident of New Zealand in 2012. In January 2012 New Zealand police arrested him in response to a request by US prosecutors and he spent several weeks in jail before being released on bail. As part of the raid in which he was arrested, police seized an estimated $17 million in cash, cars (including a pink Cadillac) and other properties.
In April 2012 a court agreed to a two-year freezing order on the assets, which was due to expire tomorrow (Friday 18th April.) A New Zealand court has now refused a request by police to extend the freezing order. The order will remain in effect for two weeks to allow police an opportunity to appeal. If they don’t (which appears the likely outcome) Dotcom will get his property back.
Dotcom’s certainly keeping busy: he’s launched a new online storage site named Mega, which is planned to float on the stock market soon; he’s working on a streaming music service; and he’s launched a political party.
However, extradition to the US remains a very real threat. The case has been tied up in legal battles about the validity of warrants used to authorize the original arrest and raid, which in turn may affect exactly what evidence can be considered when deciding whether his case meets the standard for extradition. There’s also some dispute about what FBI files Dotcom’s lawyers have the right to see before making their case against extradition. As things stand, a final decision on whether he’s extradited is expected in July.