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Megaupload’s mega extradition battle

Kim Dotcom, the founder of file-hosting giant Megaupload, is (along with his associates Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk) facing a battle in the Court of Appeal of New Zealand to avoid extradition to the US. The US seek extradition so that the group may account for actions that were committed nearly six years ago. Upon the US Government being successful in the hearing, Dotcom and his colleagues would be tried on thirteen criminal counts in the US for actions that took place in 2012.

It was reported by the American FBI that their actions in the case, that has become known as the ‘Megaupload Conspiracy’, earned the group $175m which came from copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering. Their actions have not been tried criminally in New Zealand, however if the Court finds in favour of extradition the group face decades in prison.

Dotcom has regularly argued that the search warrants used to raid his home were invalid. His application to have the results of those allegedly illegal searches thrown out reached the Supreme Court, which dismissed Dotcom’s application, and allowed the case to continue.

In a decision at first instance in the District Court in New Zealand in 2015, it was ruled that the group are eligible for extradition. That finding was appealed and at the High Court in December 2017 the lower court’s decision was upheld. As is the way with extradition cases, another appeal was lodged, this time at the Court of Appeal: the hearing is expected to last two and a half weeks.

The outcome of the hearing will be crucial for the Megaupload operators. The case highlights the significant differences in penalties for intellectual property infringements across jurisdictions, and the lengths to which the US will go to get their hands on infringers. It also goes to show the lengths that infringers will go to to avoid extradition.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.