| WELLINGTON, March 21
WELLINGTON, March 21 Internet entrepreneur Kim
Dotcom on Friday suffered another blow to his fight against
extradition to the United States to face online piracy charges
after New Zealand's highest court rejected his appeal to access
evidence to be presented at the hearing.
The Supreme Court ruled that U.S. prosecutors were not
required to disclose evidence at a hearing set for July to
extradite Dotcom, the founder of online file sharing site
Megaupload, and his three colleagues to the United States, where
they are also charged with mass copyright infringement, money
laundering and racketeering.
Washington charges that the Megaupload website, which was
shut down in 2012, cost film studios and record companies more
than $500 million and generated more than $175 million in
criminal proceeds by letting users store and share copyrighted
material, such as movies and TV shows.
If Dotcom, a German national with New Zealand residency, is
extradited, the ensuing copyright case could set a precedent for
internet liability laws, potentially tightening regulations on
disseminating copyrighted material on the Internet.
A successful fight against the charges could force
entertainment companies to rethink online distribution methods.
Friday's ruling, which culminates a series of appeals by
both parties, stated that a lower court was wrong to order
disclosure of evidence in the first place.
Justice John McGrath said in the Supreme Court's decision
that a summary of the evidence had been provided and that was
sufficient. He said Dotcom had not indicated why he could not
fight the extradition charge without full access to the
The evidence in question refers to documents included in
Dotcom's belongings, including laptops and hard drives, which
were seized when the New Zealand government in 2012 arrested the
internet tycoon at his mansion near Auckland in a SWAT
team-style raid requested by U.S. authorities.
Friday's ruling deals another knock to Dotcom's defence,
coming just a month after the High Court ruled last month that
the search warrant used in the arrest of the entrepreneur and
his colleagues was legal. Dotcom is appealing that decision.
U.S. attorney Ira Rothken, a member of Dotcom's legal team,
said that the ruling was "quite robust," adding it could put the
defence at a disadvantage at the extradition hearing.
"We have a much higher hurdle because of today's ruling in
getting disclosures, and that will impact the fairness of the
hearing," Rothken told Reuters.
Dotcom, who also goes by the name of Kim Schmitz, says
Megaupload was merely an online warehouse and should not be held
accountable if stored content was obtained illegally. The site
housed everything from family photos to Hollywood blockbusters
and was one of the most visited sites on the Internet in its
The U.S. Justice Department counters that Megaupload
encouraged piracy by paying users who uploaded popular content
and by deleting content that was not regularly downloaded.
(Editing by Stephen Coates)