Kim Dotcom's New Zealand lawyer says court papers
regarding legal action by seven major Hollywood movie studios
against the internet mogul are yet to be served.
Paul Davison, QC, told APNZ the only details available to
Dotcom's camp about the copyright infringement lawsuit,
spearheaded by the Motion Picture Association of America
(MPAA) and announced this morning (NZT), were ones reported
in the media.
Major studios 20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Universal,
Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros filed claims in the
Virginia federal court.
Dotcom is personally named in the indictment, which claims
Megaupload and its key operators "facilitated, encouraged,
and profited from massive copyright infringement of movies
and television shows" before it was shut down in 2012.
He is already facing extradition to the United States on
criminal copyright and racketeering charges in relation to
the now defunct file sharing website.
Mr Davison said Dotcom's American legal team would be
defending the claim against him and Megaupload.
"None of the papers for the claim have been received. All
that's known is what that's been in the media so far.
"The claim that there is civil liability is obviously
"The fundamental position that's been adopted [is] that there
is no liability by Mr Dotcom and his business to the
copyright owners, that he wasn't a party to copyright
infringement and his company has no liabilities to those
"Obviously, the proceedings will be defended, but they're
being commenced in the US and they'll be defended by US
lawyers engaged by the company and by Mr Dotcom and the
others," he said.
As well as Dotcom, Megaupload, majority shareholder Vester
Ltd, chief technical officer Mathias Ortmann, and programmer
Bram van der Kolk were named as defendants in the claim filed
Both Mr Davison and Prime Minister John Key said news of the
lawsuit had not come as a surprise.
"The proposition that has underpinned the criminal
proceedings is that there was a breach of copyright.
"So if that can be proven, you would expect liability to be
sought to be established by the copyright holders themselves,
and that's what's happening," Mr Davison said.
Mr Key said: "There's obviously been quite a dispute going on
about intellectual property and whether that intellectual
property's been paid for; that's the basis of the case that
the Americans are taking against Dotcom.
"Essentially it's about whether people pay for intellectual
property or whether it's ultimately used in what is claimed
to be illegally. That's the whole issue about the internet
and those sites," he said.
MPAA global general counsel Steven Fabrizio said in a
statement Megaupload was "by all estimates the largest and
most active infringing website targeting creative content in
the world" when it was shut down in 2012.
"Infringing content on Megaupload.com and its affiliates was
available in at least 20 languages, targeting a broad global
audience. According to the government's indictment, the site
reported more than US$175 million in criminal proceeds and
cost US copyright owners more than half a billion dollars."
The companies are seeking profits and maximum statutory
Megaupload was built on an incentive system which rewarded
users for uploading the most popular content on the site,
"which was almost always stolen movies, TV shows and other
commercial entertainment content", Mr Fabrizio continued.
"Megaupload wasn't a cloud storage service at all, it was an
unlawful hub for mass distribution.
"To be clear, if a user uploaded his term paper to store it,
he got nothing ... But if that same user uploaded a stolen
full-length film that was repeatedly infringed, he was paid
for his efforts.
"That's not a storage facility; that's a business model
designed to encourage theft - and make its owners very rich
in the process.
Dotcom has criticised the lawsuit on twitter, saying: "Files
above 100MB filesize did not earn rewards on #Megaupload.
Hollywood claims that we were paying users to upload pirated