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The Kim Dotcom-Megaupload saga seems like it will never end. Five years have passed since the flamboyant Dotcom’s indictment and arrest in New Zealand on US criminal copyright infringement charges. He is wanted in the US in connection to the Megaupload file-sharing service he controlled before the US shuttered it in 2012.
has seized millions of dollars in Dotcom bank accounts in Hong Kong and New Zealand, as well as multiple cars, four jet skis, Dotcom’s mansion, several luxury cars, two 108-inch TVs, three 82-inch TVs, a $10,000 watch, and a photograph by Olaf Mueller worth more than $100,000. The Justice Department wants to keep all of it, too, according to a Friday filing (PDF) with the US Supreme Court.
Dotcom has challenged (PDF) the asset forfeiture to the US Supreme Court. He says the US government is abusing the so-called Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine that essentially forbids defendants from using the court system to their advantage while they’re a fugitive.
The Justice Department responded Friday by telling (PDF) the Supreme Court that it should uphold a federal appeals court that ruled against Dotcom in August. The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals said the Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine applies to “those who resist” extradition.
The government said that Dotcom and others charged in the case have chosen to avoid prosecution by not coming to the United States. “Congress sought to bar the ‘unseemly spectacle’ of allowing an accused to absent himself deliberately in order to avoid prosecution in the United States while using United States courts to retrieve the proceeds of his crime,” the government noted, while quoting a 2004 federal appellate decision.
Dotcom’s lawyers claim that he has never stepped foot in the US and therefore cannot be labeled a fugitive. The defense also claims the Justice Department is taking too expansive a view of the Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine. That’s because Dotcom, the defense maintains, isn’t a fugitive because he is lawfully challenging his extradition in the New Zealand courts.
were indicted for what the Justice Department said was “among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States.”
The US government said the site had facilitated copyright infringement of movies, music, TV shows, e-books, and software “on a massive scale.” The “estimated harm” to rights holders was “well in excess of $500 million,” the US government said.
While the site was being run overseas, the government said it had jurisdiction over Megaupload and its operators because 525 of the file-sharing site’s servers were based in the US.