Kim Dotcom was accused of knowingly profiting from the mass distribution of copyrighted content through his website Megaupload on Thursday, as an extradition hearing against him got underway.
New Zealand and American authorities allege that the Internet entrepreneur facilitated mass piracy by allowing and even encouraging people to upload copyrighted content which users could then stream.
Christine Gordon QC, a lawyer for the Crown in New Zealand, likened the website to a postal service whose owners were concealing the shipment of drugs and profiting from it.
“One would shut down the post office if those who created and ran it had actual knowledge that they were shipping drugs and go to great lengths to conceal it from law enforcement, and knowingly make money off each shipment.”
Dotcom was also accused of only superficially adhering to takedown notices from copyright holders, while at the same time paying those who uploaded the most popular content.
“They [the defendants] knew that they paid rewards for specific copyright-infringing material and in some cases they communicated with the rewards claimants and helped and encouraged their activities by giving them special privileges.”
Dotcom sat alongside three co-defendants Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk in Auckland District Court, New Zealand.
Gordon went on to reference conversations between the various defendants which she claims show they were deliberately hiding their activity from the authorities.
Dotcom is alleged to have told Ortmann in 2010:
“At some point a judge will be convinced about how evil we are and then we’ll be in trouble. We have to make ourselves invulnerable.”
The Internet entrepreneur also allegedly told his co-defendant that logging of chats should be avoided.
Van der Kolk was said to have written to Dotcom:
“If copyright holders would really know how big our business is they’d surely try to do something against it. They have no idea we are making millions in profit every month.”
In order for the four to be extradited to the US the Crown must prove that there is a prima facie (on first appearance) case against them.
Last week Democratic presidential candidate and Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig filed an affidavit saying that the Crown had failed to establish the case.
Megaupload is accused of making USD $25m from advertising and USD $125m from premium subscriptions which allowed users to watch uploaded videos without time limits.
This story was originally reported in the New Zealand Herald.
Image Credit – Kim Dotcom, July 2013 by Peter Harrison