The owners of the popular website Megaupload, which became one of the most popular venues for online videos, will soon be extradited from New Zealand to the United States to face charges of racketeering, money laundering, and Internet piracy.
The founder of the website, Kim DotCom (whose birth name is the less-punchy Kim Schmitz), and three of his associates will soon be headed back to the States, where they plan to assemble a dream team of criminal defense attorneys.
According to a recent report from CBS News, DotCom has already secured the services of Ira Rothken, an attorney who is famous in technology circles for his vigorous defense of other Internet entrepreneurs charged with piracy.
Rothken told reporters recently that he was assembling a group of legal experts in the fields of copyright, criminal law, and technology. These experts may be necessary if DotCom has any hope of winning the multiple charges he will face in countries across the world.
Despite the legal challenges awaiting DotCom, he seems in high spirits, as he recently explained his decision to allow photographers to film his latest hearing as evidence that he “has nothing to hide.”
DotCom’s project, Megaupload, serves as a sort of storage locker for online data, and DotCom claims that his company merely provided storage services for content that was uploaded by third parties.
DotCom and his criminal defense attorney claim that the services offered by Megaupload are no different than those provided by the popular video website YouTube, which won a civil lawsuit last year that raised the issue of copyright violations.
The U.S. government, however, claims that Megaupload was a criminal enterprise that knowingly harbored pirated materials. Federal officials claim that DotCom and his associates made millions of dollars illegally, and that they cost the film industry more than $600 million in damages.
And, despite DotCom’s claims of innocence, his lavish lifestyle and seedy past suggest that he might have a difficult time proving his innocence in front of a jury.
Sources indicate that DotCom is a former illegal street racer, hacker, and was previously convicted of a felony. Now, DotCom lives in an opulent $30 million mansion in New Zealand and makes little effort to conceal his vast wealth.
When DotCom was arrested, authorities allege that he barricaded himself inside a locked room in his mansion, and that police had to cut their way through several locks in order to reach him.
Regardless of the outcome, DotCom’s trial may prove to be a pivotal point in the U.S. government’s enforcement of copyright laws and, at the very least, may offer some quality entertainment.