Kim Dotcom's long-running legal battle has suffered a blow after one of his co-accused pleaded guilty - and will now testify against his former colleagues.

In one of the biggest developments since Dotcom's Coatesville compound was raided three years ago, computer programmer Andrus Nomm pleaded guilty to internet piracy in a Virginia court on Friday.

The 36-year-old struck a plea bargain deal with the US Justice Department, admitting he personally downloaded copyright-infringing files. Nomm will serve a year and a day behind bars.

In one of the biggest copyright cases in history, prosecutors say Dotcom's Megaupload site was used to illegally download millions of songs and movies in one of the biggest copyright cases in history.

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Dotcom's legal team disputes the fact that Nomm's guilty plea is a major blow to his case. Photo / Michael Craig
Dotcom's legal team disputes the fact that Nomm's guilty plea is a major blow to his case. Photo / Michael Craig

The US Department of Justice claims Nomm's guilty plea was a major blow to Dotcom's case. But that was last night rejected by his legal team. His attorney, Ira Rothken, told the Herald on Sunday the guilty plea did not serve as a precedent.

"If Mr Nomm testifies in a truthful manner ... we expect that his testimony will help the defence.

"It's a plea bargain of convenience and the Department of Justice seems to have used this as a Hollywood-style publicity stunt to try to elevate the status of their case."

As part of Nomm's plea bargain, he agreed his co-accused, including Megaupload founder Dotcom, knew Megaupload.com and other sites the group operated contained copyright-infringing materials and they were making money from it.

Nomm said he brought up copyright infringement to colleagues, noting files he was sent to review for errors had FBI piracy warnings.

Dotcom did not return calls but tweeted: "I have nothing but compassion and understanding for Andrus Nomm and I hope he will soon be reunited with his son."