Kim Dotcom faces US extradition

Controversial entrepreneur faces 20 years in prison

Kim Dotcom, the founder of Megaupload and Mega, can be extradited to the US, a New Zealand court has ruled.

The Finno-German firebrand has been locked in a court battle with American authorities for five years fighting extradition to the US, where he faces 13 charges, including alledged money laundering, copyright infringement and money fraud.

The charges stem from the now-defunct file sharing service Megaupload, founded by Dotcom in 2005. The FBI alleges that before the site was shutdown in 2012 following a dramatic raid on Dotcom's home, the site netted more than $175 million in criminal proceeds. It further claims that by offering pirated content, Megaupload cost copyright owners more than $500 million over the course of the five years it was in operation.

Dotcom counters that Megaupload was a legitimate file-sharing site in the vein of Dropbox, which he did his best to police. But, with 50 million users, it was impossible to catch all illegal file-sharing that may have happened.

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Although there is no copyright infringement law in New Zealand that would apply to Dotcom's alleged criminal activities, the Auckland High Court ruled he could be extradited to the US to face charges there. If found guilty, Dotcom could face 20 years in jail.

In a statement reported by The Guardian, Dotcom's barrister said: "The High Court has accepted that Parliament made a clear and deliberate decision not to criminalise this type of alleged conduct by internet service providers, making them not responsible for the acts of their users.

"For the court to then permit the same conduct to be categorised as a type of fraud in our view disrupts Parliament's clear intent. The High Court decision means that Parliament's intended protection for internet service providers is now illusory. That will be a concern for internet service providers and impact on everyone's access to the internet."

Dotcom also hit back at the decision in a series of tweets, saying: "New Zealand Copyright Law (92b) makes it clear that an ISP can't be criminally liable for actions of their users. Unless you're Kim Dotcom?"

His legal team said it plans to appeal the ruling.

Picture credit: Sam Churchill

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