Fighting Back, Megaupload Moves To Have Charges Dropped
Before it was shut down in January, Megaupload was one of the world’s most popular websites, a cloud storage service with millions of users storing data, either for free or by paying for premium service. However the storage site had its servers seized after being accused of copyright theft and internet piracy.
Megaupload has moved to have the case thrown out in the United States and tens of millions of dollars of assets unfrozen, reports John Ribeiro of IDG News Service. The FBI claims founder Kim Dotcom masterminded a scheme that netted him more than $175 million in a few short years by copying and distributing music, movies and other copyrighted content without authorization.
A New Zealand court has granted Dotcom access to documents which contain evidence against him, and are held by prosecuting authorities both in New Zealand and the US. “A denial of the provision of information that could enable a proper adversarial hearing in my view would amount to a denial of the opportunity to contest and that would effectively mean that the process is one sided…,” District Court Judge David J. Harvey said in his ruling earlier this week.
“In my view there must be fairness at the hearing and a balance must be struck, otherwise the ROC (record of case) becomes dominant virtually to the exclusion of everything else and places the extradition process in danger of becoming an administrative one rather than judicial,” he added.
All of Megaupload’s information and records were contained on computers or servers which were removed from his premises or his control as the result of the actions of the New Zealand police and the US authorities in other countries in January, Judge Harvey said.
Lawyers for Megaupload claim US federal authorities cannot charge the company with criminal behavior because it is Hong Kong based, and also that no papers have ever been formally served.
Assets from the company were seized and its executives in New Zealand and Holland arrested in January on warrants issued by the FBI. But Megaupload’s US counsel said the FBI had made a fundamental mistake.
“The law here in the United States is that you can’t indict and then serve a company that does not have a presence in the United States,” Ira Rothken told Radio New Zealand. “This case was flawed from the start, once this case gets dismissed it cannot be fixed,” Rothken said. He wants the case against Megaupload and its executives dismissed.
Megaupload maintains that it simply offered online storage, and that music and movie companies were given every opportunity to have illegal material removed.
Dotcom is out on bail after he convinced a court that he was not going to abscond. In the past week he has been allowed back to his mansion, and had travel restrictions eased. A New Zealand judge also ordered prosecutors to give Dotcom’s lawyers access to evidence collected against him and co-defendants.