Trial of Megaupload Founder Kim Dotcom Now Depends on New Zealand Law

To extradite, or not to extradite?

Fun fact: New Zealand’s Maori name roughly translates to “land of the long white cloud,” and it’s where Kim Dotcom, nee Kim Schmitz, the founder of recently-busted filesharing site Megaupload, was arrested last week with three others. Even though U.S. prosecutors say Megaupload made at least $175 million through illegal copying and distribution of music, movies and other copyrighted content, according to Reuters, Mr. Dotcom must be extradited—forcibly sent back to the U.S.—before he can be tried. And his crime has to be prosecutable under New Zealand law in order to be extradited.

Therein lies the rub. Despite its status as the filming location for Lord of the Rings, the kiwi island doesn’t seem to have quite the same draconian attitude toward illegal downloading, nevermind the fact that the indictment may be “pushing some pretty aggressive theories,” as Anthony Falzone of the Copyright and Fair Use at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society put it.

Copyright violation is usually a civil matter in New Zealand, not a criminal one. There are other differences between New Zealand and U.S. law when it comes to digital piracy, and no precedent for extradition based on copyright violations. What does that mean? It’s going to be a long vacation for Mr. Dotcom on the lush island. “I wouldn’t expect this to be sorted out quickly,” a lawyer in Auckland told Reuters. Perhaps the pale-faced founder can use the time to reclaim his Modern Warfare 3 ranking.

megaupload seized Trial of Megaupload Founder Kim Dotcom Now Depends on New Zealand Law