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Kim Dotcom's Extradition Hearing Is Over

His fate now rests with a New Zealand judge.
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom leaves Auckland District Court in September where he was fighting extradition to the United States. Photo: Greg Sandoval

Now, it's a waiting game for Megupload founder Kim Dotcom.

His nine-week extradition hearing concluded on Tuesday and all that's left is for Judge Nevin Dawson to decide whether New Zealand will hand over to the United States Dotcom and three other former Megaupload executives.

In 2012, the US Department of Justice alleged that Megaupload, a file-hosting service, was designed to profit from the illegal sharing of movies, music and software by its users. The DOJ charged the four men with criminal copyright infringement and related offenses and spent nearly four years trying to extradite them from New Zealand.


How long Dawson might take to make a decision is unclear. The Auckland District Court did not respond to emailed questions. Some lawyers involved in the case have guessed that Dawson will take from between one and two months. A decision may come sooner rather than later, however, since the judge prodded lawyers from both sides to hurry along. He commented that the case was important and "needed to be gotten to the end of."

We can only hope he practices what he preaches.

Regardless, the question of extradition is likely to drag on. Whichever way Dawson rules the losing side is sure to appeal. The good news, however, is that the initial phase is completed, and the high-profile copyright case is a step closer to resolution.

The prosecution against Megaupload has become a cause celebre in Hollywood, in tech circles and throughout the web. Before the FBI shut it down, Megaupload was a behemoth. At one point, the service was the thirteenth most visited site on the web and averaged more than 50 million visitors a day. Dotcom and his co-defendants say they're innocent and just operated cloud-based lockers that enabled people to store digital files. According to them, what users did with those lockers was out of management's control.

Ask anyone at the major film, music, and video game companies, and they'll likely tell you that Megaupload's file-hosting story was just a ruse. Lawyers for the entertainment industry argue Dotcom and his management team designed the site for one purpose: to enable users to share copyrighted movies and music so they could profit from the traffic by selling ads and premium services. The lawyers have also said Megaupload is a perfect example of why the US needs legislation that would enable law enforcement to shut down overseas pirate sites masquerading as legitimate services.


Megaupload's supporters say that copyright laws protect services like Megaupload from being held responsible for the infringing acts of users. To them, the prosecution of the company's managers is the latest attempt by the US government to twist the internet to serve its own economic and political interests.

Against such a powerful adversary, does Dotcom think he can prevail? How does he think Dawson will rule?

"The 10-week extradition hearing has ended," Dotcom said Tuesday via Twitter. "My life is in the hands of Judge Nevin Dawson. He was the Judge who granted me bail. There's hope!"

That's what he said today, but throughout the hearing Dotcom, who is 41, complained that he would have preferred Judge David Harvey to have presided. Harvey was supposed to oversee the extradition hearing but removed himself after making a negative comment about the United States. How that affected the case is unclear but the defendants are unhappy with some of Dawson's rulings. For example, Dotcom's lawyers wanted to present witnesses who were experts on international treaties, like the one between the United States and New Zealand, as well as on Megaupload's technology. The requests were denied.

In an interview at the Dotcom mansion in September, the German-born Megaupload founder said all he wanted was a fair chance to defend himself but that the US was preventing him from doing that.

"This is the US view of justice: We can destroy his business, we can take down his web site and all of his other web sites and businesses," Dotcom said at the time. "We can destroy the jobs of 220 employees. We can entangle the guy in years of litigation, making sure we starve him out and we forfeit all his assets worldwide without a single hearing on the merits.

"Not a single hearing."