Despite criticisms emanating from both sides, it will be difficult to argue that New Zealand has skipped on the amount of time it’s dedicated to the Megaupload case.
Hundreds of hours of legal resources have been expended since the fateful raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion in 2012 and with 2016 just a few short weeks away, it will soon be determined whether the Internet entrepreneur will be shipped to the United States.
That decision now lies with Judge Nevin Dawson, who today listened to the closing submissions in an extradition hearing that has lasted (some say dragged on) for 10 long weeks after being scheduled for just four.
Both sides have demonstrated only one common ground – each feels they have a solid case and that the other is dead wrong.
Prosecutors acting for the United States say that Megaupload was business built from the ground up for illegal purposes. They argue that Dotcom and fellow defendants Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk knew that their users were breaching copyright and even financially rewarded those who infringed the most.
Rather than removing content as the law requires, Megaupload merely removed the links, leaving content intact so that it could live to infringe another day, the U.S. claims. Communications between some of the company’s executives only served to underline the above, with admissions that Megaupload was profiting from 90% infringing files.
The former Megaupload operators see things very differently. From day one they have argued that their Internet business was a legitimate cloud storage service, originally setup to overcome the limitations of sending files via email.
Megaupload was not dissimilar to Dropbox, Dotcom et al argued, and had deals with copyright holders so that any content they wanted removed could be taken down in a timely fashion.
“Not only did Megaupload achieve 99.999% takedown compliance, numerous emails from major content owners thanked us for our compliance,” Dotcom reiterated today.
But despite complying with the laws of the land, Dotcom says that Megaupload was cut down in its prime by an aggressive and malicious U.S. government who from the very beginning has been doing Hollywood’s bidding. Those same authorities closed down his site, seized his funds and then denied him access to a fair trial.
“My defense team has shown how utterly unreliable, malicious and unethical the U.S. case against me is. They have exposed a dirty ugly bully,” Dotcom said this morning.
But allegations of dirty tricks aside, Dotcom and his former associates insist that the very basis of the U.S. case falls on stony ground, that the copyright infringement charges on which all of the other charges are based simply aren’t extraditable offenses. In any event, Internet service providers such as Megaupload can’t be prosecuted for their users’ crimes, they say.
Nevertheless, the reality remains. Dotcom and his former Megaupload operators face charges of copyright infringement, conspiracy, money laundering and racketeering in the United States and after putting up a colossal battle, U.S. prosecutors aren’t likely to be backing down anytime soon.
But for now the fate of the now famous quartet lies in the hands of Judge Nevin Dawson, the man who has sat patiently – sometimes less so – through ten weeks of hearings and hundreds of pages of submissions from both sides in this epic war of words.
“The 10 week extradition hearing has ended. My life is in the hands of Judge Nevin Dawson. He was the Judge who granted me bail. There’s hope!” Dotcom said after the hearing ended today.
When Judge Dawson will deliver his final decision is unclear, but when he does so it will be to an open court in the presence of men facing decades of jail time in the United States.
It will be an agonized wait for both sides but history shows us that no matter which side loses, neither will easily accept defeat. This show is definitely not over yet.