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Accused of copyright infringement, Kim Dotcom’s U.S. extradition hearing finally gets going

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Nigel Marple/Reuters
Kim Dotcom, founder of controversial file storage website Megaupload, has appeared in the New Zealand court that will decide whether he is extradited to the U.S. to face charges of copyright infringement. The hearing has been a long time coming, having been delayed on numerous occasions, and for more than three years.

Dotcom arrived at the court in a Mercedes with the license plate KIM.COM, and will be seated in a large leather chair for the proceedings, a request apparently granted due to help alleviate back pain, according to various reports. In The Guardian, it’s stated, ‘a sea of lawyers and reporters flooded the district court,’ to cover the case, but Dotcom gave no statement before entering.

The hearing is expected to last several weeks, and won’t decide whether Dotcom and three others accused of copyright violations are guilty, just if they should be sent to the U.S. where they will face the full charges. If found guilty, the four men — Dotcom, along with Finn Batato, Bram van der Kilk, and Mathias Ortmann — face decades of jail time.

Prior to the hearing, Dotcom made it clear how he feels the case has far larger implications than his extradition. He sent three tweets explaining, saying that it’s about ‘how much control we allow U.S. corporations and the U.S. government to have over the Internet.’ and that by making the right — by which he means not granting the extradition — decision, the judges ‘can become the champions for billions of Internet users.’

The BBC says the prosecution must prove Dotcom and his associates committed a crime in both New Zealand and in the U.S., if the extradition is to go ahead. In the opinion of one Harvard Law professor, who specializes in Internet IP law, the evidence doesn’t meet requirements to support an extradition, and the DOJ has failed to prove a case of copyright infringement, wire fraud, and criminal conspiracy.

The Megaupload site was shut down by the FBI, and Dotcom’s Auckland mansion raided, in January 2012.

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