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MegaUpload round up: Judge resigns, Beatz mentioned, Dotcom writes

By | Published on Friday 20 July 2012


The judge overseeing the MegaUpload extradition in New Zealand was forced to step back from the case this week after being criticised for referring to the US as “the enemy” at a conference.

Judge David Harvey was set to rule on whether four MegaUpload executives based in New Zealand, including founder Kim ‘Dotcom’ Schmitz, can be extradited to the US to face charges of copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering in relation to the controversial file-transfer service.

As previously reported, America’s extradition efforts have hit a number of hitches along the way, including the impact of procedural errors made by New Zealand police, and Harvey’s viewpoint that the US authorities should share all the evidence it has gathered against the Mega execs with the defence. The hitches have already pushed back the date of any extradition hearing from August to next March.

Harvey was taking part in a conference last week where an international copyright agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which involves both America and New Zealand, was being discussed. The judge was expressing the opinion that the treaty would force elements of US copyright law, especially regarding DVD region codes, onto New Zealand, and that that would be a bad thing.

He concluded his point with a light-hearted aside, a play on a quote made famous by the late American cartoonist Walt Kelly (a rework the judge seemingly borrowed from Twitter). The original quote says “we have met the enemy and he is us”, which Harvey read as “we have met the enemy and he is US”.

Footage of the remark was posted on the net and, while clearly meant in jest, various commentators noted that, given Harvey’s key role in the very high profile MegaUpload case, it was an unwise thing to say. The judge subsequently announced he would hand over the extradition hearing to another New Zealand judge, Nevin Dawson.

Confirming the move, the Chief District Court Judge of New Zealand, Jan-Marie Doogue, told reporters: “He [Harvey] recognises that remarks made in the context of a paper he delivered on copyright law at a recent internet conference could reflect on his impartiality and that the appropriate response is for him to step down from the case”.

Elsewhere in MegaUpload news, and good old Swizz Beatz might be returning to this story. Those of you with long memories will remember that the Grammy Award-winning producer had been working with the controversial digital company in the months before its shut-down, sweet talking a bunch of big-name celebs to appear in the ‘Mega Song’ video (yeah, you’d forgotten about that hadn’t you? “Mega Mega Upload, upload a file today, send me a file” etc etc).

When the feds swooped and took MegaUpload offline in January it was revealed that Swizz Beatz, real name Kasseem David Dean, had actually been named CEO of the file-transfer company, and some wondered whether he too would be arrested as the Americans sought to put all of the firm’s management behind bars. But it was concluded that Dean’s appointment as Mega CEO was merely a PR stunt, and he had no real day-to-day involvement in the company.

However, as part of the US authorities’ previously reported bid to persuade the courts that the MegaUpload company falls under the jurisdiction of American law, even though it was incorporated in
Hong Kong, prosecutors have noted Dean’s official status in the company. They argue that, if Dean was CEO of MegaUpload at the moment it was shut down, and as he is an American citizen, then a criminal prosecution against the company can be formally filed by handing the paperwork to him.

In the prosecution’s most recent filing to the US courts, prosecutors say: “After defendant Dotcom became defendant Megaupload’s Chief Innovation Officer, the company appears to have employed at least two Chief Executive Officers in the United States: first David Robb and then Kasseem David Dean (also known as Swizz Beatz). These individuals represented the company before the Office Of The United States Trade Representative in relation to’s inclusion on the Notorious Markets review”.

Noting that Dean hadn’t been especially keen to cooperate with the US government’s criminal investigation into MegaUpload, the court filing concluded: “Delivering a summons to Mr Dean, a resident of the United States, in his capacity as apparent Chief Executive Officer should also constitute proper service of process upon an officer of the company”. So, perhaps Swizz Beatz will be part of this ongoing story after all.

Finally from the Mega files this week, Dotcom has told the US movie industry that he’s actually their friend, even as the big studios prepare to launch civil proceedings against the MegaUpload chief. In an open letter in The Hollywood Reporter, Dotcom, ever certain that he can single-handedly save the music and movie industries, writes: “The internet frightens you. I am at the forefront of creating the cool stuff that will allow creative works to thrive in an internet age. I have the solutions to your problems. I am not your enemy”. So that’s nice to know.