On February 20, 2017, the High Court of New Zealand, in Ortmann & Ors v United States of America, ruled that four high-ranking former employees of the Internet file hosting site Megaupload, including founder Kim Dotcom, could be extradited to the United States to stand trial for copyright infringement. Megaupload, a file sharing site headquartered in Hong Kong but utilized worldwide, was often used to store and disseminate copyrighted works such as television shows and music. In January 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice seized Megaupload’s web domain, and New Zealand, acting on request of a U.S. federal prosecutor, arrested Dotcom and three associates, who were living in a compound in New Zealand at the time. The United States Government has been seeking the appellants’ extradition to face trial on 13 counts including allegations of conspiracy to commit racketeering; copyright infringement; money laundering and wire fraud since 2012.
Interestingly, even in making a ruling against Dotcom, the High Court granted key concessions to his defense. The High Court reversed a District Court ruling and decided that copyright infringement by digital online communication of copyright protected works to members of the public is not a criminal offense in New Zealand under the Copyright Act. However, the High Court ruled that “a conspiracy to commit copyright infringement amounts to a conspiracy to defraud and is therefore an extradition offence listed in the US- NZ Treaty. Further, other extradition pathways are available for all counts because of their correlation to a number of serious crimes in the Crimes Act.” Thus, under section 24 of the Extradition Act of 1999, the appellants are eligible for extradition.
Dotcom has vowed to appeal the High Court’s decision, which can be found in its entirety here: http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/1702/Ortmann__Ors_v_United_States_of_America.pdf. The High Court’s press release can be found here: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1702/S00227/dotcom-case-judgment-ortmann-ors-v-usa.htm.