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MegaUpload extradition appeal to be livestreamed on YouTube

By | Published on Tuesday 30 August 2016


Kim Dotcom’s latest attempt to fight extradition to the US to face charges of money laundering, racketeering and copyright infringement will be livestreamed on YouTube, so that’s a thing. Lawyers for Dotcom had argued that the case should be beamed live to the world, but reps for the US government objected.

As much previously reported, Dotcom has been fighting extradition from New Zealand to the US ever since American authorities shut down his MegaUpload business in early 2012 on copyright grounds. A New Zealand court finally considered the extradition request late last year, ultimately siding with the Americans, though Dotcom et al are now appealing.

Legal reps for Dotcom said that the appeal should be streamed because, you know, the bloody media and all that, who knows what they’ll say, so letting people watch the hearing on the YouTubes will restore balance and ensure public scrutiny. The American authorities argued that the streams could prejudice the actual criminal trial if and when it happens back in the US, in particular making it harder to select an impartial jury.

But as the appeal hearing got underway yesterday, the judge overseeing the case – Murray Gilbert – green lighted the livestream, and on Dotcom’s preferred platform of YouTube too. Though there are conditions.

First, guidelines for broadcasting court sessions in New Zealand say that there should be a ten minute delay, and for this case it will be 20 minutes, so that specific things can be blocked from the public screening if necessary. Commenting will also be turned off and the footage will not be able to stay on YouTube long-term.

Though, of course, viewers will be able to comment on the livestream elsewhere if they so wish and, somewhat ironically, there is nothing to stop pesky users from ripping the stream and plonking that content in publicly accessible digital lockers of the MegaUpload model, and then sharing that content beyond the trial period itself.

In their opening remarks yesterday, judges for the MegaUpload side – actually repping former Dotcom colleagues Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk – said that the judge in the original extradition hearing had shown “extraordinary disinterest” in their arguments.

They then listed some familiar grievances, regarding the process US and New Zealand authorities went through in originally investigating and arresting the former MegaUpload management, and over the fact the defendants had not been allowed to use funds seized from their former business to hire experts in US law as part of their defence in the New Zealand courts.

The appeal is expected to take at least six weeks, and it’s thought that star attraction Dotcom won’t take to the stand himself until next week. By which time the YouTube livestream should be fully functioning. What a time to be alive!