It’s a digital trial for the digital age as Kim Dotcom of Megaupload secured the ability to have his extradition hearing broadcast around the world.
Kim Dotcom, you may recall, was arrested in New Zealand several years ago on charges the file-sharing website he founded was violating copyright protections and engaged in some serious pirating of copyrighted works. Dotcom has long argued he’s an “Internet freedom fighter” who has done nothing wrong. He’s currently fighting an extradition order to the United States and had requested the extradition hearing be livestreamed, something the US government worked hard to deny.
On Aug. 30, Judge Murray Gilbert in New Zealand’s high court decided in Dotcom’s favour and livestream began on Wednesday, with some conditions, The Guardian reports: “The live stream must be delayed by 20 minutes to allow the court time to prevent any restricted material from being published, and all footage must be removed from the internet as soon as the hearing is over.”
Still, Dotcom is declaring victory. “This is breaking new ground,” he tweeted. His attorney, Ron Mansfield, argued that the very nature of the case should be transmitted to the public, as it discusses “unprecedented issues of public and international interest” that would only receive a fair trial if it were broadcast in this way, The Guardian reported.
I will post the live streaming link here ASAP. This is breaking new ground. New Zealand at the forefront of transparent Justice! Leadership!
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) August 29, 2016
When New Zealand authorities raided his house several years ago, it was under the orders of the FBI, providing an “overwhelming” amount of evidence that would support Dotcom’s extradition to the US, along with three others involved in Megaupload. The FBI and others representing US interests in this case claim Dotcom and Megaupload “willfully breached copyright by hosting illegally created movie, music and software files.”
In an interview with RT.com, Dotocom says of his trial: “You’re going to see a trail of government abuse…you’re going to see that the United States came to New Zealand, got involved in a raid…and the court is going to hear all this.” Ira Rothken, one of Dotcom’s lawyers, told RT.com he believes live streaming the extradition hearing will keep Dotcom in New Zealand and “expose government wrongdoing.”
“We look forward to the entire world shining a light on this government abuse through this livestream and this is exactly how democracy should work and we’re very optimistic. It shows Kim Dotcom’s innovative mind and brilliance to go ahead and use the internet as a way to actually show the world what’s going wrong with the government…” Rothken said. He adds that the US government has no legal standing to indict Dotcom because there is a Safe Harbor agreement between the countries which applies to “ISPs from any criminal liability” and laws within New Zealand that “do not make any kind of species of alleged infringement even a crime,” the website says.
Dotcom adds that the US indicted him on copyright infringement “even though I’m not directly charged with that infringing of files…and because I use my treaty rights to fight extradition, a US court has found that I’m not a fugitive and under the fugitive disentitlement they have forfeited all my assets which now belong to the United States government,” even though he’s not been convicted of anything yet.
Dotcom and his attorney also say a win for the US in this case would have a chilling effect on creativity on the internet.
“This is basically SOPA [The Stop Online Piracy Act] through the backdoor…SOPA failed but if they win in my case, every internet service provider will be forced to police the internet and to police the users to not end in a similar situation like myself,” he said.
While Dotcom might have a point, he might also be a little bit of a hypocrite, complaining about the loss of assets while he built a web empire based on sharing pirated files from musicians and other creators who received no payment for the files he released.