Megaupload Boss Loses Extradition Appeal

John Lister's picture

Controversial file sharing site owner Kim Dotcom has come another step closer to being extradited to the United States. It comes despite a New Zealand court agreeing with one of Dotcom's key arguments against extradition.

Dotcom, who changed his name from Kim Schmitz, was the man behind one of the biggest alleged piracy websites, "Megaupload." It was a site where users could upload files, either as a form of back-up, or as a way to share files with other people.

Not surprisingly, many users found that Megaupload was an excellent way to illegally share copies of copyrighted music and videos. That in itself didn't inherently make the site illegal or constitute unlawful activity on Dotcom's part.

However, US prosecutors argue that Dotcom essentially urged users to engage in file trading (illegal or not) and in return, generated revenue from it. That's because Megaupload offered financial bonuses to users who shared the most downloaded files, with the logic being that the site could make the money back from advertising shown on the download link page.

Bonus Payment 'Encouraged Piracy'

Dotcom argues this was perfectly legal because he couldn't control whether copyright infringing files turned out to be the most popular. The prosecutors say he was well aware this would be the case and that paying the bonus was enough to make him complicit in the illegality.

New Zealand police arrested Dotcom five years ago, sparking a lengthy series of court battles about the legality of his arrest, the seizure of his assets, and the desire of US officials for him to be extradited to stand trial.

In late 2015, a New Zealand court finally ruled that he should be extradited, which promoted an immediate appeal by Dotcom. That's now concluded with something of a double-edge ruling.

Online Piracy Not Crime in New Zealand

On the one hand, the judges agreed with Dotcom's argument that extradition on copyright infringement charges was invalid. That's because the activity cited in the extradition request is not illegal in New Zealand. Normally people can only be extradited when accused of something that's a crime in both countries. (Source:

However, the judges also noted that the extradition request include claims that Dotcom had conspired to commit copyright infringement, which in turn counted as conspiracy to defraud by deliberately and dishonestly depriving the copyright holders of revenue. That was enough for the court to conclude the extradition order was indeed valid. (Source:

Dotcom won't be packing his bags yet, however. The case is now likely to go to a further appeals stage and then to New Zealand's Supreme Court, something that may take up to two years.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you think Dotcom has acted illegally? Do you agree with his argument that it's not his responsibility how people used his service? Does the fact that he paid the bonuses for popular content make a difference?

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Dennis Faas's picture

Turning a blind eye to piracy and claiming he "didn't know any better" simply doesn't cut it. Dotcom knew exactly what he was doing and generated a staggering $175 million (reportedly) by rewarding others for pirating copyrighted works on his own website, then raking in even more for himself. I have no empathy for this guy - he needs to go to jail pronto. Adios Amigo!

Navy vet's picture

Maybe a step closer?

sirpaultoo's picture

Everybody seems to be a loser except for the lawyers. How much $$$ has been spent on this money grab? I read that Kim has spent somewhere around $30-$50 million on his defense.
This is similar to saying that a bank manager should be held liable for any bank robbery along with the actual robbers. After all, a bank manager has to know that certain people will ignore legalities and rob banks. And yet the manager still does his/her best to increase the bank's holdings and cash flow by giving out incentives (I once got a toaster for opening an account), making it more appetizing to anyone bent on robbing a bank.
Kim Dotcom is probably guilty of something, but I just can't grasp how he can be prosecuted for 'anything' by a country that he's never stepped foot in.
It seems as if someone's breaking the law to enforce a law.