Kim Dotcom, famously of Megaupload, is on trial in New Zealand. The US wants to extradite Dotcom to the US to be tried for criminal copyright infringement charges, but significant questions about how the US put its case together have already been raised in the extradition proceedings.
“At some point a judge will be convinced how evil we are and then we are in trouble.”
That’s a statement that the US attributes to Kim Dotcom, part of a series of messages, translated from German, which the US has presented as evidence.
It turns out that isn’t what Dotcom said in the message. The original statement, correctly translated, reads
“Because at some stage a judge will be talked into how bad we allegedly are—and then we will be a mess.”
Dotcom’s attorneys allege that the mistranslation was deliberate on the part of the US, an attempt to cast Dotcom in a negative light, and that it’s only one element of a case that involves a great deal of cherry-picked evidence, twisting of legal definitions and other below-the-board tactics being employed by the US.
Dotcom’s attorneys also charge that US demands to extradite Dotcom run contrary to the law in the US itself, with the Supreme Court having recently found that copyright breaches are not fraud.
Also at issue are the limits of liability that Internet service providers enjoy when providing a service. Dotcom’s attorney argued that Internet service providers offer technology that is neutral, likening it to a video recorder. Such technology can be used for illegal purposes, but it’s not upon the technology provider to police the use of their technology and to ensure that it is only being used for legal purposes.
Kim Dotcom’s trial has been high profile from the start. He and others involved in Megaupload face charges including racketeering, wire fraud, criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Dotcom was arrested at his New Zealand home in 2012. The arrest itself was a made-for-TV affair, complete with helicopters and dozens of law enforcement personnel. According to the police, Dotcom made his way back to a safe room during the raid and law enforcement personnel had to cut him out of the room to arrest him.
The indictment charged that Megaupload had a very large following, with over 150 million users registered on the site. It was just shy of the top ten sites on the Internet before it was brought down. The charges against Dotcom include $500m in alleged piracy. Megaupload is alleged to have pulled in $175 million over the years it was in business.
Dotcom’s lawyers have raised questions as to what the charges Dotcom faces in the US, and being tried for them, could mean for those providing services on the Internet.
According to Dotcom’s lawyers, the US charges could end up meaning that every company that provides services over the Internet would be tasked with monitoring its users and ensuring that they’re using the service in a way that conforms to the law.
Dotcom’s lawyer further argued that, in addition to monitoring users to avoid civil liability, the US charges could create a situation where internet service providers could face criminal liability due to the behavior of their customers.
Dotcom’s lawyers noted that other large internet service providers, including Google and Twitter, are not held liable for the behavior of their users. Dotcom, they maintain, was singled out because of his reputation.
The case is ongoing, with Dotcom’s lawyer preparing to enter more testimony this week.