By Charlotte Greenfield
WELLINGTON (Reuters) – An appeal by flamboyant German tech entrepreneur Kim Dotcom over a decision to extradite him to the United States began in New Zealand on Monday, with the Megaupload founder’s legal team arguing the hearing should be live streamed on YouTube.
The High Court hearing opened in Auckland nine months after a lower court ruled Dotcom could be sent to the United States to face copyright infringement and money-laundering charges over the operation of file-sharing website Megaupload.
“US defends mass surveillance programs with ‘If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear’ but opposes live streaming of my hearing,” Dotcom, who attended some of the hearing, said on Twitter.
Dotcom’s lawyer, Ira Rothken, said a request to stream a video of the hearing on the internet was made in court on Monday.
A major issue in the case was whether a government could hold storage providers liable for users’ acts and the issue was of widespread global interest, he said.
“We hope the court finds in favor of Livestreaming so the global community from Silicon Valley to Wellington, New Zealand, can access the courtroom in a case that can impact the entire internet community,” Rothken told Reuters in an email.
Rothken said he expected the judge to make a decision on live streaming on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for New Zealand government prosecutors, who are representing the United States, said it was not appropriate to comment while the matter was before the courts.
Lawyers representing the United States had previously argued that Megaupload’s practices, such as paying rewards to repeat copyright infringers, were evidence that Megaupload was made with the aim of providing access to pirated files.
U.S. authorities say Dotcom and three co-accused Megaupload executives cost film studios and record companies more than $500 million and generated more than $175 million by encouraging paying users to store and share copyrighted material, such as movies and TV shows.
Years of legal wrangling followed Dotcom’s arrest in New Zealand police raid in 2012, and it emerged that the Government Communications Security Bureau had illegally spied on him before the raid.
The case has been watched by the media industry and developers in the file-sharing business for signs of how far the United States is willing to go to protect U.S. copyright holders.
Megaupload accounted for about 4 percent of total traffic on the Internet in its heyday as users stored and shared files containing everything from wedding videos to Hollywood films.
(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Robert Birsel)