The founder of file-sharing service Megaupload, Kim Dotcom, has entered the final appeal battle to try and challenge his extradition to the US, where he faces decades behind bars for copyright infringement charges.
The appeal hearings kicked off in New Zealand’s Supreme Court on Monday. If the appeal fails, it will be up to the country’s interior minister to decide whether to actually greenlight the extradition.
Dotcom has resided in New Zealand since 2010 and the US case against the Megaupload founder has resulted in a lengthy extradition battle. While it was greenlighted in 2015, it has been repeatedly appealed in various courts since then, ultimately getting to the top judiciary.
The now-defunct file hosting site Megaupload was created by Dotcom back in 2005. It was among the most popular and frequently visited websites of the whole internet until 2012, when it was seized by the FBI.
Dotcom and his associates were indicted with various criminal charges, including copyright infringement, wire fraud and money laundering, with damages inflicted to audio and video content owners listed as over $500 million.
Kim Dotcom – also known as Kim Schmitz before legally changing his name – has had earlier run-ins with the law. He received a suspended sentence in Germany twice for insider trading and other shady activities – and the Megaupload case might look like yet another legal trouble for the eccentric entrepreneur. Except it might bring grave consequences to the whole internet industry – and even beyond.
Dotcom himself has repeatedly stated that the whole case is an attempt by the US government to further stomp on “web freedom” and if he’s prosecuted, any internet provider can be held liable for the “misuse” of their services by the users.
His legal team maintains that the file-sharing service platform itself cannot be blamed for any copyright infringement by the end users. Supporters of the internet entrepreneur share a similar opinion, arguing that it will set a very dangerous precedent – for internet-based businesses.