It doesn’t matter whether you like Dotcom or despise him. The law is the law and every dog is entitled to his day in court.
The judgment against KDC has many jumping up & down with glee. I’m not one of those because I never like to see law misused for political reasons, or to persecute someone merely because they are unpopular. One has to be especially wary when the person being prosecuted is an enemy of the standing government. I’d like to be sure that what is happening to KDC is not an example of any of those situations.
Sure, KDC didn’t do much for his public relations with his decision to align himself with the far left of NZ politics. If I had been able to influence KDC I would have warned him not to do it. He seems incredibly naive as far as politics go. However that mistake must remain separated from the court proceedings.
I’ll try and address as briefly as I can a few of the concerns I have with the judgment. Firstly, it should be noted that the idea of any hearing on extradition is to ensure the case is sound, in order to prevent vexatious or undue process. Is this basic measure met? I’m not convinced.
I disagree with the massive legal onslaught, made up of a myriad of invasive and restrictive laws, that we all have to endure to preserve copyright. However let’s put that aside for now. If KDC has breached copyright laws then why is he the only one being prosecuted when there are hundreds of other file sharing sites? This would imply two things- 1) KDC is being used as an example, and 2) laws around copyright are unsound and breaches are difficult to prove.
Here is what is important-
The idea of KDC’s prosecution, why all of these forces are being applied, is to scare everyone else into complying with laws that are really ineffective and otherwise unenforceable.
Given this purpose, is it fair then to grant the extradition request? I’m not sure it is validated at all.
The second point is the law lacks clarity on whether copyright infringement is grounds for extradition in the first place. There are many legal arguments here based around the differences in importance of a legal breach in NZ or the US. This is why the US govt tacked on the charges of wire fraud and money laundering. They knew the case for extradition on copyright infringement was weak right from the get go. Money laundering and wire fraud more easily justify extradition.
So it is more important that these two charges are shown to have substance over the charge of copyright infringement. The judge obviously agrees these charges have substance, I’m skeptical. All KDC was doing was running a file storage/ sharing site. Money laundering & wire fraud are the province of criminal gangs. The Mafia, international drug dealers and groups like that. Megaupload doesn’t fit the profile.
So in summary, the copyright part of this case has many pro and against legal arguments as to whether it validates extradition, but the real weakening factor in the extradition case (IMHO) is that the prosecution of KDC is intended to scare others into compliance with otherwise unenforceable and clumsy laws. The wire fraud and money laundering charges would seem to be tacked on only to bolster the weak copyright argument, and seem to lack justification.
This brings us back to the initial purpose of the hearing, and the main question – is the extradition process being used in a frivolous or unjustified manner?
I’m not sure we can give the required firm and unequivocal “no” in answer to that question. Furthermore we should not allow political considerations or personal dislike to convince us that we can. This is actually a far bigger issue than KDC and whether one likes him or not, or what side of the political fence you sit on.
One day it may be you the US is trying to extradite. Or worse it could be China or Russia after you. You’d want due process followed then wouldn’t you?