Megaupload Piracy Case: Judge Blocks Extradition

Dennis Faas's picture

The man behind the controversial Megaupload site has been given permission to remain in his native New Zealand for the moment.

A local court has ruled that American officials must divulge full details of the evidence against site owner Kim Dotcom before he can be extradited.

The Megaupload site came under fire because it allowed users to upload files and share them with others. As with many such sites, a high proportion of these files appeared to be copyright-protected material shared without permission.

Difficult for Prosecutors to Convict

In similar cases, it has been difficult to convict site owners of copyright offenses as long as they delete or block access to copyrighted files upon receiving a valid request from the copyright holder.

With Megaupload, prosecutors say Dotcom's actions indicate he was closely linked to piracy. They say the site lied to rights holders about its actions in deleting files.

Staff apparently deleted individual links to the files while leaving the files themselves accessible.

Prosecutors also argue the site paid bonuses to users who uploaded the most popular files, which seems to show Megaupload was clearly encouraging sharing of pirated material.

Megaupload Site Now Under US Control

US officials seized control of the site earlier this year, sparking an ongoing legal argument about what would happen to the files. Particularly upset were users who had uploaded legitimate personal documents.

Meanwhile, Dotcom himself was arrested in New Zealand, but later released on bail while local courts decide whether to agree to demands that he should be sent to the US for trial.

A New Zealand court has demanded to see evidence that Dotcom has a case to answer in the US. It wants to see copies of all records gathered by undercover US agents as part of their investigation.

US prosecutors had appealed the demand, arguing that having to provide such detailed information for an extradition request was "unprecedented" anywhere in the world. They also said US law should prevail. (Source:

New Zealand judge Helen Winklemann has now rejected that appeal.

She has ruled that the New Zealand bill of rights gives Dotcom the right to a fair hearing in the extradition case, and that such a hearing entails him seeing the evidence against him. (Source:

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