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New Zealand’s high court has ruled that accused Internet pirate Kim Dotcom can be extradited to the United States, according to stuff.co.nz, a New Zealand news site. Dotcom’s lawyer said he will appeal to the Court of Appeal.
The U.S. claims Dotcom, a long-time bitcoin advocate, and associates Finn Batato, Bram der Kolk and Mathias Ortmann engaged in money laundering and copyright infringement, costing copyright holders more than $500 million.
Largest U.S. Copyright Case
The case has been called one of the largest copyright cases brought by the U.S.
Today’s ruling comes more than five years after authorities raided Dotcom’s Auckland residence. The court ruled that the evidence established a case against Dotcom. It also ruled in favor of one of Dotcom’s claims – that online communication of copyright-protected material is not a criminal offense in New Zealand.
The court’s decision came in response to Dotcom’s appeal against a 2015 ruling that he and his associates should be surrendered to the U.S.
Dotcom and company appealed the 2015 ruling, claiming the judge erred in all aspects. The U.S. also appealed aspects of the judgment.
Ron Mansfield, Dotcom’s attorney, said he is confident the case would be resolved in his client’s favor.
Judge Addresses Copyright Law
Justice Murray Gilbert accepted Dotcom’s argument that online communication of copyright-protected material is not a criminal offense in New Zealand. The judge ruled that contrary to the district court’s views, this section of the law provides no extradition pathway in Dotcom’s case.
The judge also found that the appellants are wrong in asserting the general criminal law fraud provisions cannot apply in copyright infringement cases but only under the Copyright Act.
The judge said he agreed that the evidence in the case establishes evidence on all accounts.
Mansfield claimed the decision indicated that Dotcom did not commit an offense under New Zealand’s copyright law.
Dotcom tweeted that he is getting extradited for a law that does not apply and that he is no longer getting extradited for copyright. He also said he expected the case to last for at least two more years.
U.S. Court Indicted Dotcom
Dotcom and his associates were indicted by a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia for the file-sharing site Megaupload. The indictment, dating back to January 2012, led to an FBI shutdown of Megaupload and then the raid at his home. They accused Dotcom of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering.
Three years later, Dotcom and three associates faced an extradition hearing despite the fact that Dotcom claims never to have lived, visited or incorporated in the U.S.
Dotcom has fought the allegations in the court of public opinion. In a white paper he links to on social media, the case is framed as “The US vs You (and Kim Dotcom).”j
Image from Shutterstock.