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The U.S. Justice Department has just released a summary of what it’s got on Megaupload, the once-popular, now-shuttered digital enterprise run by Kim Dotcom.
The release comes after some fighting at a Virginia federal court.
Earlier this month, Megaupload’s attorneys protested that the government had secretly shared evidence in its possession with some in the entertainment industry. As those involved in Megaupload’s operation fight to prevent an extradition to the United States on charges of criminal copyright infringement and racketeering, they demanded to see the evidence and an opportunity to oppose any information they believed had the potential of infecting the jury pool.
A judge has now unsealed an order on the dissemination of evidence, and so the Justice Department has put out nearly 200 pages of what a trial against Dotcom would look like.
That is, if New Zealand judicial authorities agree at a hearing next year that extradition is appropriate.
Dotcom was indicted in January of 2012, and since then, he’s been holed up in a New Zealand mansion awaiting his fate. His advocates have attempted to portray Megaupload as a cyberlocker that should escape liability because Dotcom believed at the time that copyright laws would protect him. In particular, they point to the perceived onus on copyright holders under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to inform ISPs of infringing material on a network.
If Dotcom gets extradited and government prosecutors face off against him in court, FBI agents, computer forensic experts and even some officials at the MPAA, RIAA and BSA will be called to the witness stand to testify about Dotcom’s willful intent to infringe copyrights on films, television shows and songs.
The summary of evidence (below) speaks about why the government doesn’t see Megaupload as primarily a cyberlocker, how its uploader rewards program worked, and details internal e-mailed conversations by Megaupload’s employees. The documents purport to show the defendants’ mindsets during the time in question and how Megaupload employees allegedly did things like manipulate a ranking of Top 100 shared works on the site, copy videos from YouTube to create an air of legitimacy, and mislead copyright holders attempting to use an anti-piracy tool.
Some examples of Megaupload e-mails and messages on Skype:
“Kim really wants to copy Youtube one to one.”
“Maybe we should automatically delete videos on Megavideo that are longer than 30 minutes and have more than XXX views or something because I still see so much piracy that is being embedded.”;
“I am downloading the latest LOST episodes in HDTV format for Kim :-)”
“I have a feeling that Kim tolerates a certain amount of copyright violation.”
“We’re pretty evil, unfortunately”, “but Google is also evil, and their claim is ‘don’t be evil.’”
“I told you many times not to delete links that are reported in batches of thousands from insignificant sources. I would say that those infringement reports from MEXICO of ‘14,000’ links would fall into that category. And the fact that we lost significant revenue because of it justifies my reaction.”
The government has already accused Megaupload of causing the entertainment industry some $500 million in damages, and here, the government provides some specifics. For example, the government says it has evidence to show that one of the indicted Megaupload employees uploaded a copy of the film Taken about three months before it was distributed in the United States.
UPDATE: Ira Rothken, attorney for Megaupload, has responded to the release, telling PCWorld, “This sounds like 191 pages of a meritless criminal theory,” Rothken said. “The notion that they keep piling on more evidence to bolster civil claims of secondary copyright infringement, to us look like they’re desperately trying to mislead the public.”
Here’s the government’s “mega evidence”:
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