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New Zealand Judge Quits Kim Dotcom Extradition Case

Kim Dotcom Mona Schmitz Leaving court - H 2012
Fairfax Media/Getty Images

Internet law expert Judge David Harvey referred to the U.S. as the “enemy” when discussing trade agreements and copyright.

SYDNEY - The judge set to hear Kim Dotcom’s extradition case in New Zealand next year, has recused himself from the case after a backlash against comments he made at an conference last week when he referred to the U.S. as the “enemy” in copyright practice.

Judge David Harvey, a well regarded Internet law expert, reportedly made the comments at NetHui during a conference discussion on copyright and trade talks with the U.S. He referred to a tweet which had played on a reference to cartoonist Walt Kelly: "We have met the enemy and he is [the] U.S." according to the NZ Herald.

The comments did not directly refer to the Dotcom case, in which German born NZ resident Km Dotcom has been indicted by the U.S. on racketeering, copyright and money laundering charges over his file-sharing Megaupload website. He is currently under house arrest in New Zealand. 

District Courts chief judge Jan-Marie Doogue said on Wednesday that Judge Harvey had made the decision to step down from hearing the case and will be replaced by Judge Nevin Dawson. Judge Dawson has previously heard elements of the Dotcom case.

A statement released by Judge Doogue said ”[Judge Harvey] recognizes that remarks made in the context of a paper he delivered on copyright law at a recent Internet conference could reflect on his impartiality and that the appropriate response is for him to step down from the case”.

Judge Harvey’s removal from the case came on the same day an open letter by Dotcom was published by the Hollywood Reporter, stating that he and his Internet business were not Hollywood’s enemy.

The letter opened: Dear Hollywood,

The Internet frightens you. But history has taught us that the greatest innovations were built on rejections. The VCR frightened you, but it ended up making billions of dollars in video sales.

You get so comfortable with your ways of doing business that any change is perceived as a threat. The problem is, we as a society don't have a choice: The law of human nature is to communicate more efficiently. And the economic benefits of high-speed Internet and unlimited cloud storage are so great that we need to plan for the day when the transfer of terabytes of data will be measured in seconds.”

Kim Dotcom’s extradition case will be heard in March next year.