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US District Court Judge - Megaupload trial may not happen

updated 10:15 pm EDT, Fri April 20, 2012

Dotcom never legally served by the US

United States district court Judge Liam O'Grady declared today that Megaupload owner Kim Dotcom's trial may never happen, as criminal charges were never formally filed within or by the United States. Prior to shutdown, Megaupload was the world's biggest file repository on the internet, and was allegedly responsible for up to 4 percent of Internet traffic. Megaupload's headquarters and a Virginia data center were raided on January 19 of this year.

Ira Rothken, Dotcom's US lawyer, made the argument that it was not legally possible for Megaupload to be served with criminal charges remotely, but said it was possible for civil charges to be filed in such a manner. Rothken expected the FBI would have the same legal information prior to the seizure of Megaupload servers and the associated data. Judge O'Grady's remarks, in conjunction with the complications of serving defendants in criminal complaints remotely, are being used by Rothken in an attempt to get the extradition request filed in New Zealand on March 5 tossed out.

Further obfuscating the extradition request, the US government is seeking a five year sentence, exceeding New Zealand's maximum four year sentence for copyright infringement. Regardless of sentence, lawyers for the US attorney's office argue that Dotcom (born Kim Schmitz) should be extradited, as he was the leader of Megaupload, which they view as an organized criminal group.

No decision was reached today in the hearings, and further discussions on the extradition matter are scheduled for Virginia district court next week. Earlier this month, Judge O'Grady ordered further negotiations on the future of the millions of files spanning 25 exabytes (25 million gigabytes) across 1100 servers held and maintained by Carpathia Hosting of Dulles, Virginia.

Carpathia's lawyers argued that the $9,000 per day cost of maintaining the data was too much to bear after the closure of Megaupload, and they demanded relief in the form of judicial funding. Judge O'Grady, while sympathetic to Carpathia's plight, intimated they weren't completely ignorant of what was going on and the $35 million paid to Carpathia from Megaupload should be sufficient for now.

All sides in the dispute (other than Carpathia) desire that the data be preserved for legal purposes. Further hearings regarding the data are pending before a magistrate judge that O'Grady referred to as "known for his negotiation skills."

By Electronista Staff
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