Little fish caught in Dotcom net

By Martha Shanahan

Legally stored files are still locked up.

Kim Dotcom and his wife Mona with their children. Photo / Supplied
Kim Dotcom and his wife Mona with their children. Photo / Supplied

Kyle Goodwin is just a regular American guy who loves his sport. He loves it so much that he's built a livelihood out of filming high school and college sports and putting together show reels for families whose teenagers are applying for college scholarships.

But after the FBI and New Zealand police mounted raids on the Auckland mansion of Kim Dotcom and the offices of Megaupload, Goodwin found himself spearheading an international court battle for the return of information that had been legally stored on the upload site - then seized by US authorities.

Yesterday, Goodwin's lawyers appeared alongside those of Dotcom, in a small district court in the pretty beachside town of Alexandria, Virginia.

The court was asked to dismiss charges against internet company Megaupload, to order the release of Dotcom's frozen assets to pay for legal fees and to give users such as Goodwin access to the data they lost.

District Court Judge Liam O'Grady has scheduled a fact-finding hearing for this month, after which he will decide whether to dismiss the allegations and indictment against Megaupload, and to give Goodwin access to the gigabytes of video he had legally stored with Megaupload.

"We'll look at it a little further and issue an order shortly," O'Grady told the court yesterday.

In Auckland yesterday, Kim Dotcom told the Herald on Sunday he sympathised with Goodwin and others in the same boat.

"I think it's a shame that millions of users have been parted from their property," he said. "No one should take that away from you."

Goodwin, 41, spoke to the newspaper from Ohio. He said that before the Megaupload
shutdown, he relied on the site to back up his video footage and collaborate with producers who lived miles away.

"They would film it, cut it, process it, everything, then put it on Megaupload. This saved so much time and energy."

Then in January, Goodwin's external hard drive fell off his copy table and broke. Hoping to salvage what he says was about 70 per cent of his files at the time, he turned to Megaupload to try to access the backups he had saved there.

"This must have been the day they shut down the site," he said. "It still had the main page but it wouldn't let me go into any of the files. I had no idea what was going on. I thought maybe their server was down."

But no - the FBI had shut down Megaupload. Goodwin lost access to all his digital data, including highlight reels for high school students applying to college sports programmes. "There was no warning at all," he said. "It was all just kind of out of the blue. Honestly, it doesn't look like they care."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represents Goodwin, argued in court yesterday that the US Government should establish a way for Megaupload users who were using the site legally to have access to their digital property, which amounts to millions of gigabytes.

That would be done by filing civil suits against Megaupload or Carpathia Hosting, the US-based company whose servers Megaupload hired to store the data. "Mr Goodwin is not looking for money, he wants the files," EFF attorney Julie Samuels told the court.

Goodwin's court application says he has been unable to provide highlight reels to at least four parents who wanted to buy video of their children playing sports - but the US authorities have done nothing to give him back his data.

"It's taken six months, and they don't have a resolution about what to do," Goodwin said last night.

Carpathia still holds the 25 petabytes of data that Megaupload was paying it to store but, because the US Government has frozen most of Megaupload's assets, that company cannot pay Carpathia to access the data itself.

Andrew Peterson, the District Attorney in the case, argued the Government had not restricted Goodwin's access to property and therefore was not obliged to get it back.

"He has not suffered irreparable harm," Peterson said.

Dotcom faces an extradition hearing next month but, this week, the High Court at Auckland ruled the raid on his home and seizures of his property were illegal.

Big backer for dying public broadcaster

Kim Dotcom stole the show at a mock funeral procession to mourn the closure of public broadcaster TVNZ7. The sombre circumstances couldn't hide the grin: the internet mogul is upbeat about his own future.

"All I can say is I'm really pleased," he said, welcoming the High Court decision that the January raid on his Coatesville mansion was illegal. Dotcom plans to release a new "song for internet freedom" in the next few days. "It's called Mr President. I'm asking him: What happened to free speech? What happened to change?"

He also plans to hire a swimming pool and invite his 45,000 Twitter followers to a "Swim at Kim's". It comes after Dotcom invited Twitter followers Ben Gracewood and his friend Jose Barbosa around for a swim in his Coatesville pool this week.

"When I did the swim at Kim's at my house, a lot of people turned up and we just couldn't manage it. The next one will be open to anybody."

Barbosa, a reporter on TVNZ7's Media7, took the opportunity in the pool to solicit Dotcom's support for the campaign to save the channel.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 23 Aug 2014 22:41:30 Processing Time: 641ms