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MegaUpload extradition hearing wraps up – will the “dirty ugly bully”, aka the US government, prevail?

By | Published on Wednesday 25 November 2015


Hey America, you “dirty ugly bully”, how you doing this morning? Ready for giving some thanks tomorrow? Good.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, the MegaUpload extradition hearing has finally reached its conclusion, and the fate of four of the men who used to run the often controversial file-transfer platform are now in the hands of a judge called Nevin Dawson.

The extradition proceedings, already many times postponed since the US authorities shut down MegaUpload in early 2012, ended up dragging on for ten weeks. Mainly because at every turn defence lawyers argued that the whole case should be postponed once again, because their clients were being starved of funds by the prosecution, they claimed, preventing them from hiring the expert legal counsel required to ensure a fair trial.

However, while the hearing dragged, it was never postponed, and finally this week each side delivered their closing arguments. As previously reported, the prosecution spoke on Monday, again stressing that MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom and his colleagues built a lucrative business empire by deliberately encouraging and enabling others to infringe copyright.

The level of infringement that was enabled – the prosecution argued – constituted fraud against the copyright industries. So much so, Dotcom’s own colleagues had themselves referred to the company’s activities as being fraudulent. This is a key point, because copyright infringement alone – even criminal infringement – is not covered by the extradition treaty between the US and New Zealand, so prosecutors need to show that Dotcom et al’s activities amounted to fraud, which is covered.

In its wrap up, the defence disputed all and any allegations that its clients’ business was in any way fraudulent. As for the allegations of copyright infringement, MegaUpload was no different to any other file storage and transfer platform, they argued; though a specific comparison with Dropbox was made, because some other file-transfer set ups – like the also now defunct RapidShare – were likewise accused of contributory infringement.

MegaUpload removed infringing content if made aware of it, in line with US law, the defendants again argued. “Not only did MegaUpload achieve 99.999% takedown compliance”, said Dotcom himself on Twitter, as the extradition hearing reached its conclusion, “numerous emails from major content owners thanked us for our compliance”.

The former MegaUpload chief added that his business had been entirely legitimate, but was nevertheless shot down by “an aggressive and malicious US government” set on “doing Hollywood’s bidding. My defence team has shown how utterly unreliable, malicious and unethical the US case against me is” he added. “They have exposed a dirty ugly bully”.

Dawson will now consider both sides’ arguments before deciding whether Dotcom and co should indeed be extradited to the US to face charges of money laundering, racketeering and copyright infringement. Though, whatever he decides, an appeal will almost certainly follow.

In the meantime, noting that Dawson granted Dotcom bail against the wishes of the US authorities all the way back in 2012, the MegaUpload founder tweeted: “My life is in the hands of Judge Nevin Dawson. He was the judge who granted me bail. There’s hope!”