Flamboyant German tech entrepreneur Kim Dotcom yesterday appeared in a New Zealand court, after nearly four years of legal wrangling, at a hearing to determine whether he will face copyright infringement and other charges in the US.
The court case is to decide whether Dotcom, the founder of file-sharing Web site Megaupload, and three other executives can be extradited to the US. Other charges include racketeering and money laundering.
“This case is not just about me. This case is about how much control we allow US corporations and the US government to have over the Internet,” Dotcom said on Twitter before the hearing began.
Dozens of black-clad police, working in cooperation with the US’ FBI, rappelled into Dotcom’s New Zealand mansion in 2012. Years of legal wrangling ensued.
US authorities say Dotcom and the three other Megaupload executives cost film studios and record companies more than US$500 million and generated more than US$175 million by encouraging users to store and share copyrighted material, such as movies.
Dotcom greeted supporters in the gallery, but sat apart from the other accused men in a black leather arm chair brought to the court from his mansion. The case is being watched closely by the media industry and developers in the file-sharing business for signs of how far Washington is willing to go to protect US copyright holders.
The hearing is scheduled to take two weeks, with the next session scheduled for Thursday.
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