More than a decade has passed since Kim Dotcom’s file-storage empire Megaupload collapsed after becoming the prime target in a high-profile law enforcement operation.
The U.S. Government booked an early result in 2015 when programmer Andrus Nomm was handed a one-year prison sentence following a plea deal.
The case lit up again last year when two of the three remaining defendants, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk, signed an agreement to be charged in New Zealand and avoid extradition to the United States. That left Kim Dotcom as the sole ‘active’ extradition candidate.
As Dotcom’s extradition battle continues, the U.S. Government’s criminal case has stalled along with a pair of civil lawsuits filed by the RIAA and MPA. These are not expected to begin until the criminal case is finalized, which could take a while.
MPA and RIAA Cases Postponed Again
Over the past several years, Megaupload has repeatedly asked the court to delay these lawsuits. This bi-annual postponement cycle began in 2014 and continued earlier this month.
“Defendant Megaupload hereby moves the Court to enter the attached proposed order, continuing the stay in this case for an additional six months, subject to the terms and conditions stated in the proposed order,” the requests note, adding there are no objections from the RIAA and MPA.
As expected, District Judge Anthony J. Trenga – who took over the Megaupload lawsuits after complaints about Judge Liam O’Grady’s alleged financial ties to Disney – swiftly signed off on the new six-month delays.
“[T]his matter be stayed until September 1, 2023, on the same terms and conditions as set forth in the Court’s original stay order,” the order reads.
Stricken From Active Docket
Interestingly, there is a notable difference compared to earlier orders. One day after extending the stay in both the RIAA and MPA lawsuits, the court struck both cases from the active docket, marking the lawsuits inactive instead.
“It appearing to the Court that this case has been stayed nearly continuously since June 10, 2014, it is hereby ORDERED that this case be, and the same hereby is, STRICKEN from the active docket and placed on the inactive docket,” Judge Trenga writes.
Marking the case as inactive makes sense, as no progress is expected anytime soon. A decision on whether to extradite Kim Dotcom could take years and even if he was eventually sent to the United States, criminal proceedings could take another decade to complete.
There is one notable caveat. Kim Dotcom’s former business associates, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk, remain defendants in the civil lawsuits and pleaded guilty in the criminal matter. The Megaupload pair will be sentenced in New Zealand soon, but what that means for the civil cases in the U.S. isn’t immediately clear.
If there’s an indication that the civil cases can move forward, the lawsuits can be moved to the active docket again. For now, however, they remain in hibernation.
Dotcom, meanwhile, continues to build his online following, inserting himself into political, financial, and other global debates. When the need arises, he will likely turn his attention to the Megaupload battle again.
Copies of the orders to stay the civil cases are available here (MPA / RIAA). Judge Trenga ordered these cases to be stricken from the active record shortly after (MPA / RIAA).