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Dotcom's lawyer questions flight risk verdict

Published: 5:46AM Wednesday January 25, 2012 Source: ONE News

The lawyer for Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has launched an immediate appeal against a judge's decision to decline bail for his client.

The German national and New Zealand resident has been remanded in custody until February 22 for an extradition hearing.

Judge David McNaughton said the risk of Dotcom fleeing the country, even if he was required to report to police regularly, have his computers confiscated and have his movements monitored electronically, was too great.

"While those conditions would restrict the applicant's movements and inhibit his ability to plan any escape, with sufficient determination and financial resources flight risk remains a real and significant possibility which I cannot discount," he said in his judgement.

But Dotcom's lawyer, Paul Davison QC, said there was no risk of Dotcom fleeing.

"All of his assets are frozen, all of his resources have been taken, seized," Davison said outside the North Shore District Court.

"He's living here with his wife and family. He has no intention whatsoever of  endeavouring to leave New Zealand."

Davison said an appeal would be lodged straight away.

He said Dotcom had some health issues which were being addressed, but at this stage there was nothing that was "not being adequately dealt with."

A large contingent of supporters packed the courtroom to hear Judge David McNaughton's decision.

Dotcom and three others were arrested on Friday after police raided his rented mansion in Coatesville, Auckland, at the request of the FBI.

Police cut Dotcom from a safe room he had barricaded himself in.

Dotcom, 38, argued in court that he is innocent on charges of internet piracy and money laundering.

The German national, who is also known as Kim Schmitz, faces extradition to the United States for his role in megaupload.com, which US Federal prosecutors say has cost copyright holders more than $620 million in revenue lost through pirated material.

Dotcom's alleged co-offenders, New Zealand resident Bram van der Kolk, 29, Finn Batato, 38, and Mathias Ortmann, 40, will find out if they will have their bail requests granted tomorrow.

Legitimate users

The US-led crackdown on Megaupload has left legitimate users of the site unable to access their files.

US Federal prosecutors say Megaupload.com has cost copyright holders more than $620 million in revenue lost through pirated material.

But not everyone using the site was doing so on the wrong side of the law, web commentator Russell Brown told TV ONE's Breakfast yesterday morning.

"There were legitimate users of Megaupload," said Brown.

Many people use file-sharing sites as '"clouds", places to store legitimate files which they can access anywhere in the world, Brown explained.

In many cases, those files are only accessible to the person that uploaded them.

It is very difficult for owners of file-sharing sites to monitor what content is uploaded on their sites and how many people are accessing it, Brown said.

"The eventual case will turn quite greatly on how much the Megaupload founders knew.

"It appears that the FBI spent two years collecting evidence to show that they did know and that they wilfully infringed."
Brown said in the days since the raid, three of the other major file sharing services have become nervous and shut down their sites.

The targeting of Megupload could be a turning point in the fight against illegal file sharing, Brown said.

It seems content owners, mainly in the music and film industry, are shifting their focus away from individuals and onto the actual websites hosting illegal content.

"It looks like perhaps now they're going to turn and look at the file-sharing sites."

Brown added that even if a person is only streaming illegitimate content without downloading it, that act is still illegal.

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