Megaupload website founder Kim Dotcom and three associates were on Monday cleared by a court in New Zealand to be extradited to the U.S. where he faces a variety of charges including copyright infringement and racketeering.
Holding that copyright infringement by digital online communication of copyright protected works to members of the public is not a criminal offense under New Zealand’s Copyright Act, the High Court found that a conspiracy to commit copyright infringement amounts to a bid to defraud, which is an extradition offense listed in the treaty between the U.S. and New Zealand.
An earlier District Court judgment permitting the extradition was upheld by the High Court.
Dotcom and three colleagues, and two companies including the file-sharing site Megaupload, were indicted by a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia in January 2012.
They were charged with engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement and money laundering, and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
During the hearing for his extradition in 2015, Dotcom had a number of civil rights activists, including Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig, opposing the extradition.
The DOJ had failed to prove a case of direct civil or criminal copyright infringement, wrote Lessig in an expert opinion filed in an Auckland court, stating that the DOJ must establish willfulness to prove a criminal case.
Describing the order as a political judgment, Dotcom wrote in a Twitter message that “New Zealand Copyright Law (92b) makes it clear that an ISP can't be criminally liable for actions of their users. Unless you're Kim Dotcom?”
"I'm no longer getting extradited for copyright. We won on that. I'm now getting extradited for a law that doesn't even apply," he wrote in another tweet.
A decision on the extradition will now have to be taken by the Court of Appeal, said Dotcom's legal team in a statement in Scoop Media tweeted by Dotcom.
“The High Court has accepted that Parliament made a clear and deliberate decision not to criminalise this type of alleged conduct by internet service providers, making them not responsible for the acts of their users,” the statement added.