A Legal Minute: Mega-Man’s MegaUpload Is Still Safe. Mega-Man and three other executives from MegaUpload were arrested earlier this year in their $30 million mansion in New Zealand. Attorney Roberto “R.C.” Rondero de Mosier updates us on this legal monstrosity.
Written by: Roberto “R.C.” Rondero de Mosier, Attorney at Law
Late last week something pretty extraordinary happened in the legal world. A judge in New Zealand, of all countries, slapped the hand of the Justice Department regarding the trial of employees of the Hong Kong based MegaUpload. The Mega-Man himself, Kim Dotcom (born Kim Schmitz). He is the founder of MegaUpload and its associated sites which were shut down by the justice department in January. Dotcom is being held in New Zealand and the United States is trying to get him extradited and brought into the U.S. for trial.
Now, in case you are not aware, MegaUpload was an online file storage and viewing site that was a great pirated source of TV, Film and Music content (among other things). The U.S. Department of Justice has alleged they have a great case that the company was dedicated to copyright infringement. MegaUpload, of course, is not the first website that has hosted uploading and file sharing. If you have downloaded through bit torrent, then you know the drill. And remember Napster? That was the first similar site to be taken down. Of course, it was taken down by private companies in a copyright infringement suit. What makes MegaUpload so unique is the the Justice Department is getting in on the act.
What makes this case different is that while most other sites that face copyright infringement lawsuits from content providers (such as record labels, film and TV production and distribution companies) are usually claiming that they cannot be held responsible for what illegal acts their users perform and do a pretty decent job of removing content illegally uploaded, MegaUpload is alleged to not have done this.
On the surface it is hard to argue that MegaUpload did not know what they were doing. The Justice Department says they instructed users how to locate links to infringing content and, worse yet, had an program where they paid users for successful upload of illegally uploaded content. MegaUpload made a great deal of money on advertising and so it made sense for them to have the most sought after content.
Well, now Mega-Man (Dotcom) and three other company executives face potential prosecution in the U.S. after being arrested at their 30 million dollar mansion in New Zealand in January. The judge, however, who is set to hear if they can be extradited to the United States has admonished the U.S. authorities for trying to mix civil law with criminal law. Essentially the judge has said the U.S. is overreaching in trying to prosecute the Mega-Man and his buddies under racketeering charges. And from the outside, I’ll admit it seems like quite a reach.
Usually the private companies whose content is being infringed are the ones who sue the infringers. Here though, the U.S. seems to be saying they want to have more of a hand in protecting intellectual property rights. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. For now the U.S. attorneys need to show the judge evidence to back its attempt to take the offenders into custody, so Mega-Man will go nowhere anytime soon.
Now, I can’t abide piracy, but the reasons for the steps we need to take to stop it vary. Some content providers have estimated that the U.S. loses $250 billion a year in content being pirated. But some estimates are a low as $58 billion. All large numbers, but still no one knows for sure if someone downloads content online if they will not buy in the store. But what bothers me most about the U.S. attorneys stepping in on cases like this is they seek to preserve the market for the industry, regardless of what and how you and I want to watch anything. Yay for the industry executives!?
Roberto “R.C.” Rondero de Mosier is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, California, New York and Illinois. He is a partner at Gonzalez & Mosier Law PLLC. His practice specializes in Entertainment Law and Intellectual Property rights. In his spare time he enjoys watching television and films, and writing about it. Follow him on Twitter @showbizattorney, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
News Interview With Kim Schmitz of MegaUpload:
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