David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

FBI releases evidence against Dotcom

Kim Dotcom.
Kim Dotcom.

A detailed account of the evidence against Kim Dotcom has been released by the FBI to allow so-called victims of alleged piracy to claim against his seized fortune.

It details emails between those accused of massive online piracy and the huge profits which followed.

It also appears to reveal further delays in the court processes, saying the hearing at which the United States will seek to extradite Dotcom and three others from New Zealand will be in July, rather than April.

If so, it will be another delay in a drawn out fight to bring the Megaupload team before a US court. Dotcom and the other accused from the Megaupload site - Finn Batato, Bram van der Kolk and Mathias Ortmann - have consistently denied the charges.

Publication of the evidence opens the door for those who believe they are victims to claim against an estimated $80m seized by the FBI.

The evidence released today came as a result of the delays. US prosecutors were concerned they were running out of time to notify those who consider themselves victims of alleged piracy to stake a claim on the assets seized.

The FBI evidence was dismissed immediately by Dotcom in a tweet which read: "Merry Xmas from DOJ & MPAA: 2 years later still NO evidence of willful copyright infringement or a Mega conspiracy."

Dotcom's legal team had opposed release of the information, saying it would prejudice the accused's fair trial rights.

Details released in the 191-page FBI document mirror accusations in the indictment which prompted the 2012 raid which resulted in the four men being arrested and their finances seized.

The FBI evidence claimed databases seized in the raid showed hundreds of thousands of downloads of popular movies. Cloverfield was downloaded 506,535 times. IP Man 2, a Hong Kong martial arts film, was downloaded 443,000, according to the FBI. The film Kick-Ass was also popular with 395,320 downloads

The FBI document also produced more excerpts of emails intercepted through the search warrant.

In one exchange, Ortmann and van der Kolk discussed websites which appeared to be copying a Megaupload domain name.

According to the FBI evidence, van der Kolk said: "We are the pirates here." Ortmann responded: "No, we're just a service provider". And van der Kolk replied: "Yeah legally, but we know better :)"

The tracking of funds from the business also showed the excesses enjoyed by the accused as the popularity of Megaupload soared. The FBI claimed about US$7 million was paid in mid-2011 for super yacht rental - about the time the Dotcom family was holidaying in the Mediterranean on two of the world's biggest luxury vessels.

The FBI maintained Megaupload's systems allowed it to identify extreme pornography and terrorism content - and should have used the same technology to identify and remove copyrighted content.

Examination of the servers showed 33 Megaupload users whose accounts had more than 10,000 links cancelled due to copyright infringement takedown notices. The FBI said those accounts drew 475 millions views, visits which would never have happened if Megaupload had cancelled the accounts.

Almost 4500 users with 100 links disabled had drawn 12.8 billion views, meaning almost 36 per cent of traffic to Megaupload's video site was drawn by links posted by users who had been subject to repeated copyright violation complaints.

The evidence listed a string of Megaupload users who uploaded copyrighted files that went on to be viewed by others. The popularity of the files meant users got thousands of dollars as part of the site's rewards system.

The FBI claimed the installation of faster servers allowed greater sharing of copyrighted material, which was contrary to Megaupload's claims of being a cyberlocker.

- NZ Herald

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