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US judge denies MegaUpload’s first case dismissal claim

By | Published on Wednesday 10 October 2012


A US judge has rejected attempts by MegaUpload to have the copyright infringement case against it dismissed on the basis it doesn’t have a corporate base in America, so criminal charges could not be formally filed against the company.

As previously reported, MegaUpload’s legal reps hoped that they could kick out the US government’s criminal case against the Mega corporate entity, reckoning that the criminal charges that are being pursued against the individual MegaUpload executives alone may not be sufficiently serious to qualify under the extradition agreement between New Zealand and the States.

MegaUpload, of course, was taken offline by the US authorities in January, after the feds raided various American server facilities that hosted much of the controversial file-transfer website, while police in New Zealand arrested four Mega execs, including founder Kim ‘Dotcom’ Schmitz, at the Americans’ request. The company and its former management are accused of copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering.

The US is now involved in long-running efforts to extradite Dotcom et al to America, hindered by various cock ups by the New Zealand authorities that have rendered part of the investigation illegal.

Mega’s legal team, who have also accused the US authorities, their political masters, and the Hollywood lobby of dodgy behaviour in relation to the MegaUpload shutdown, had been hoping to score an early win in the US case against the digital firm and its former execs. But it wasn’t to be.

Federal prosecutors in the States argued that if MegaUpload’s argument – that the company couldn’t be prosecuted because it lacked a US HQ – was allowed to stand, then that would result in “the incredible conclusion that foreign corporations can commit crimes in the United States without risk of being brought to justice here”.

Considering the arguments late last week, Judge Liam O’Grady said that MegaUpload’s dismissal requests were somewhat “extreme”, and that the line of US criminal procedure on which the digital company relied had never been grounds for dismissal of a criminal case before.

Echoing the arguments of the prosecution, according to Billboard, the judge concluded: “It is doubtful that Congress would stamp with approval a procedural rule permitting a corporate defendant to intentionally violate the laws of this country, yet evade the jurisdiction of United States’ courts by purposefully failing to establish an address here”.

So, round one to the prosecution. Though there’s an awful lot of rounds still to go on this one, with extradition hearings in New Zealand next Spring still to be conducted before any serious debate of the legalities, or not, of the MegaUpload enterprise can be discussed in the US courtroom.