In a setback for advocates of online file-sharing, a New Zealand judge has decided that Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and three other former managers of the defunct file-hosting service are eligible for extradition to the United States.
In a decision issued in Auckland District Court on Wednesday, Judge Nevin Dawson ruled the US Department of Justice (DOJ) presented enough evidence for New Zealand to honor a US extradition request, according to Twitter posts filed by Radio New Zealand. US prosecutors want Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato to stand trial for criminal copyright violation and related charges.
In a 2012 indictment, the DOJ alleged Megaupload wasn’t a legitimate file-hosting service but a thinly disguised criminal enterprise. Prosecutors say Dotcom, the flamboyant CEO, and his staff designed Megaupload to encourage and profit from the illegal sharing by users of digital movies, music, and videogames. Dotcom argues he ran a legitimate business, and that copyright law protects web service providers from liability for copyright infringement committed by customers.
Dawson issued his opinion after wrapping up a two-month long extradition hearing. It’s important to note that the judge did not make any findings regarding guilt or innocence. The judge was tasked only with determining whether enough evidence existed to warrant a trial. That is the standard New Zealand requires prosecutors to meet, under its extradition treaty with the United States, before it hands over citizens.