Tag Archives: kim dotcom

Kim Dotcom Plots Hollywood Execs’ Downfall in Wake of Weinstein Scandal

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-plots-hollywood-execs-downfall-in-wake-of-weinstein-scandal-171011/

It has been nothing short of a disastrous week for movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Accused of sexual abuse and harassment by a string of actresses, the latest including Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, the 65-year-old is having his life taken apart.

This week, the influential producer was fired by his own The Weinstein Company, which is now seeking to change its name. And yesterday, following allegations of rape made in The New Yorker magazine, his wife, designer Georgina Chapman, announced she was leaving the Miramax co-founder.

“My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions,” the 41-year-old told People magazine.

As the scandal continues and more victims come forward, there are signs of a general emboldening of women in Hollywood, some of whom are publicly speaking out about their own experiences. If that continues to gain momentum – and the opportunity is certainly there – one man with his own experiences of Hollywood’s wrath wants to play a prominent role.

“Just the beginning. Sexual abuse and slavery by the Hollywood elites is as common as dirt. Tsunami,” Kim Dotcom wrote on Twitter.

Dotcom initially suggested that via a website, victims of Hollywood abuse could share their stories anonymously, shining light on a topic that is often shrouded in fear and secrecy. But soon the idea was growing legs.

“Looking for a Los Angeles law firm willing to represent hundreds of sexual abuse victims of Hollywood elites, pro-bono. I’ll find funding,” he said.

Within hours, Dotcom announced that he’d found lawyers in the US who are willing to help victims, for free.

“I had talks with Hollywood lawyers. Found a big law firm willing to represent sexual abuse victims, for free. Next, the website,” he teased.

It’s not hard to see why Dotcom is making this battle his own. Aside from any empathy he feels towards victims on a personal level, he sees his family as kindred spirits, people who have also felt the wrath of Hollywood executives.

That being said, the Megaupload founder is extremely clear that framing this as revenge or a personal vendetta would be not only wrong, but also disrespectful to the victims of abuse.

“I want to help victims because I’m a victim,” he told TorrentFreak.

“I’m an abuse victim of Hollywood, not sexual abuse, but certainly abuse of power. It’s time to shine some light on those Hollywood elites who think they are above the law and untouchable.”

Dotcom told NZ Herald that people like Harvey Weinstein rub shoulders with the great and the good, hoping to influence decision-makers for their own personal gain. It’s something Dotcom, his family, and his colleagues have felt the effects of.

“They dine with presidents, donate millions to powerful politicians and buy favors like tax breaks and new copyright legislation, even the Megaupload raid. They think they can destroy lives and businesses with impunity. They think they can get away with anything. But they can’t. We’ll teach them,” he warned.

The Megaupload founder says he has both “the motive and the resources” to help victims and he’s promising to do that with proven skills. Ironically, many of these have been honed as a direct result of Hollywood’s attack on Megaupload and Dotcom’s relentless drive to bounce back with new sites like Mega and his latest K.im / Bitcache project.

“I’m an experienced fundraiser. A high traffic crowdfunding campaign for this cause can raise millions. The costs won’t be an issue,” Dotcom informs TF. “There seems to be an appetite for these cases because defendants usually settle quickly. I have calls with LA firms today and tomorrow.

“Just the beginning. Watch me,” he concludes.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Supreme Court Denies Kim Dotcom’s Petition Over Seized Millions

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/supreme-court-denies-kim-dotcoms-petition-over-seized-millions-171002/

megaupload-logoFollowing the 2012 raid on Megaupload and Kim Dotcom, U.S. and New Zealand authorities seized millions of dollars in cash and other property.

Claiming the assets were obtained through copyright and money laundering crimes, the U.S. Government launched a separate civil action in which it asked the court to forfeit the bank accounts, cars, and other seized possessions of the Megaupload defendants.

The U.S. branded Dotcom and his colleagues as “fugitives” and won their case. Dotcom’s legal team quickly appealed this verdict, but lost once more at the Fourth Circuit appeals court.

Dotcom then petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear the case.

The crux of the case is whether or not the District Court’s order to forfeit an estimated $67 million in assets was right. The defense held that Dotcom and the other Megaupload defendants were wrongfully labeled as fugitives by the Department of Justice, and wanted the ruling overturned.

The Supreme Court, however, decided not to hear the case, it announced today. The news comes as a setback to Megaupload’s legal team, who had hoped for a better outcome.

“We are disappointed in the US Supreme Court’s denial of the Cert Petition – it is a bad day for due process and international treaties,” Ira Rothken, Kim Dotcom’s counsel, informs TorrentFreak.

“Kim Dotcom has never been to the United States, is presumed innocent, and is lawfully opposing extradition under the US – New Zealand Treaty – yet the US by merely labeling him as a fugitive gets a judgment to take all of his assets with no due process.”

The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case doesn’t mean that the assets are all lost. Many of the funds are located abroad in New Zealand and Hong Kong, and the defense will now focus its efforts on these jurisdictions.

“The New Zealand and Hong Kong courts, who have authority over the assets, will now need to weigh in on this issue and we are cautiously optimistic that they will take a dim view of the Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine and oppose US efforts to seize such assets,” Rothken says.

The actions of the US Department of Justice violate the prohibition against double jeopardy in the US – New Zealand extradition process, Dotcom’s legal team argues.

With the assets forfeiture, the Megaupload defendants have now been punished for the copyright infringement allegations in the indictment. On top of this they risk a possible extradition to face a second punishment in the US, which places the defendants in double jeopardy, Rothken explains.

So, while the legal options in the United States have run out, the seized assets battle is far from over.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Julia Reda MEP Likened to Nazi in Sweeping Anti-Pirate Rant

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/julia-reda-mep-likened-to-nazi-in-sweeping-anti-pirate-rant-170926/

The debate over copyright and enforcement thereof is often polarized, with staunch supporters on one side, objectors firmly on the other, and never the twain shall meet.

As a result, there have been some heated battles over the years, with pro-copyright bodies accusing pirates of theft and pirates accusing pro-copyright bodies of monopolistic tendencies. While neither claim is particularly pleasant, they have become staples of this prolonged war of words and as such, many have become desensitized to their original impact.

This morning, however, musician and staunch pro-copyright activist David Lowery published an article which pours huge amounts of gas on the fire. The headline goes straight for the jugular, asking: Why is it Every Time We Turn Over a Pirate Rock White Nationalists, Nazi’s and Bigots Scurry Out?

Lowery’s opening gambit in his piece on The Trichordist is that one only has to scratch below the surface of the torrent and piracy world in order to find people aligned with the above-mentioned groups.

“Why is it every time we dig a little deeper into the pro-piracy and torrenting movement we find key figures associated with ‘white nationalists,’ Nazi memorabilia collectors, actual Nazis or other similar bigots? And why on earth do politicians, journalists and academics sing the praises of these people?” Lowery asks.

To prove his point, the Camper Van Beethoven musician digs up the fact that former Pirate Bay financier Carl Lündstrom had some fairly unsavory neo-fascist views. While this is not in doubt, Lowery is about 10 tens years too late if he wants to tar The Pirate Bay with the extremist brush.

“It’s called guilt by association,” Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde explained in 2007.

“One of our previous ISPs [owned by Lündstrom] (with clients like The Red Cross, Save the Children foundation etc) gave us cheap bandwidth since one of the guys in TPB worked there; and one of the owners [has a reputation] for his political opinions. That does NOT make us in any way associated to what political views anyone else might or might not have.”

After dealing with TPB but failing to include the above explanation, Lowery moves on to a more recent target, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom. Dotcom owns an extremely rare signed copy of Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto, Mein Kampf (My Struggle) and once wore a German World War II helmet. It’s a mistake Prince Harry made in 2005 too.

“I’ve bought memorabilia from Churchill, from Stalin, from Hitler,” Dotcom said in response to the historical allegations. “Let me make absolutely clear, OK. I’m not buying into the Nazi ideology. I’m totally against what the Nazis did.”

With Dotcom dealt with, Lowery then turns his attention to the German Pirate Party’s Julia Reda. As a Member of the European Parliament, Reda has made it her mission to deal with overreaching copyright law, which has made her a bit of a target. That being said, would anyone really try to shoehorn her into the “White Nationalists, Nazi’s and Bigots” bracket?

They would.

In his piece, Lowery highlights comments made by Reda last year, when she complained about the copyright situation developing around the diary written by Anne Frank, which detailed the horrors of living in occupied countries during World War II.

Anne Frank died in 1945 which means that the book was elevated into the public domain in the Netherlands on January 1, 2016, 70 years after her death. A copy was made available at Wikisource, a digital library of free texts maintained by the Wikimedia Foundation, which also operates Wikipedia.

However, in early February that same year, Anne Frank’s diary became unavailable, since U.S. copyright law dictates that works are protected for 95 years from date of publication.

“Today, in an unfortunate example of the overreach of the United States’ current copyright law, the Wikimedia Foundation removed the Dutch-language text of The Diary of a Young Girl,” said Jacob Rogers, Legal Counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation

“We took this action to comply with the United States’ Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), as we believe the diary is still under US copyright protection under the law as it is currently written,” he added.

Lowery ignores this background in its entirety. He actually ignores all of it in an effort to paint a picture of Reda engaging in some far-right agenda. Lowery even places emphasis on Reda’s nationality to force his point home.

“I don’t really know what to make of her except to say that this German politician really should find something other than the Anne Frank Diary and the Anne Frank Foundation to use as an example of a work that should be freely available in the public domain,” he writes.

“Think of all the copyrighted works out there for which she might reasonably argue a claim of public domain. She decided to pick the Anne Frank diary. Hmm.”

Lowery then accuses Reda of urging people on Twitter to pirate the book, in order to hurt the fight against anti-Semitism and somehow deprive Jewish people of an income.

“After all sales of the book are used by the Anne Frank Foundation to fight anti-semitism. It’s really quite a bad look for any MP, German or not. (Even if it is just the make-believe LARPing RPG EU Parliament),” Lowery writes.

“Or maybe that is the point? Defund the Anne Frank Foundation. Cause you know I read in the twittersphere that copyright producing media conglomerates are controlled by you-know-who.”

At this point, Lowery moves on to Fight For the Future, stating that their lack of racial diversity caused them to stumble into a racially charged copyright dispute involving the famous Martin Luther King speech.

The whole article can be read here but hopefully, most readers will recognize that America needs less division right now, not more hatred.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Perfect 10 Takes Giganews to Supreme Court, Says It’s Worse Than Megaupload

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/perfect-10-takes-giganews-supreme-court-says-worse-megaupload-170906/

Adult publisher Perfect 10 has developed a reputation for being a serial copyright litigant.

Over the years the company targeted a number of high-profile defendants, including Google, Amazon, Mastercard, and Visa. Around two dozen of Perfect 10’s lawsuits ended in cash settlements and defaults, in the publisher’s favor.

Perhaps buoyed by this success, the company went after Usenet provider Giganews but instead of a company willing to roll over, Perfect 10 found a highly defensive and indeed aggressive opponent. The initial copyright case filed by Perfect 10 alleged that Giganews effectively sold access to Perfect 10 content but things went badly for the publisher.

In November 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California found that Giganews was not liable for the infringing activities of its users. Perfect 10 was ordered to pay Giganews $5.6m in attorney’s fees and costs. Perfect 10 lost again at the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

As a result of these failed actions, Giganews is owned millions by Perfect 10 but the publisher has thus far refused to pay up. That resulted in Giganews filing a $20m lawsuit, accusing Perfect 10 and President Dr. Norman Zada of fraud.

With all this litigation boiling around in the background and Perfect 10 already bankrupt as a result, one might think the story would be near to a conclusion. That doesn’t seem to be the case. In a fresh announcement, Perfect 10 says it has now appealed its case to the US Supreme Court.

“This is an extraordinarily important case, because for the first time, an appellate court has allowed defendants to copy and sell movies, songs, images, and other copyrighted works, without permission or payment to copyright holders,” says Zada.

“In this particular case, evidence was presented that defendants were copying and selling access to approximately 25,000 terabytes of unlicensed movies, songs, images, software, and magazines.”

Referencing an Amicus brief previously filed by the RIAA which described Giganews as “blatant copyright pirates,” Perfect 10 accuses the Ninth Circuit of allowing Giganews to copy and sell trillions of dollars of other people’s intellectual property “because their copying and selling was done in an automated fashion using a computer.”

Noting that “everything is done via computer” these days and with an undertone that the ruling encouraged others to infringe, Perfect 10 says there are now 88 companies similar to Giganews which rely on the automation defense to commit infringement – even involving content owned by people in the US Government.

“These exploiters of other people’s property are fearless. They are copying and selling access to pirated versions of pretty much every movie ever made, including films co-produced by treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin,” Nada says.

“You would think the justice department would do something to protect the viability of this nation’s movie and recording studios, as unfettered piracy harms jobs and tax revenues, but they have done nothing.”

But Zada doesn’t stop at blaming Usenet services, the California District Court, the Ninth Circuit, and the United States Department of Justice for his problems – Congress is to blame too.

“Copyright holders have nowhere to turn other than the Federal courts, whose judges are ridiculously overworked. For years, Congress has failed to provide the Federal courts with adequate funding. As a result, judges can make mistakes,” he adds.

For Zada, those mistakes are particularly notable, particularly since at least one other super high-profile company was shut down in the most aggressive manner possible for allegedly being involved in less piracy than Giganews.

Pointing to the now-infamous Megaupload case, Perfect 10 notes that the Department of Justice completely shut that operation down, filing charges of criminal copyright infringement against Kim Dotcom and seizing $175 million “for selling access to movies and songs which they did not own.”

“Perfect 10 provided evidence that [Giganews] offered more than 200 times as many full length movies as did megaupload.com. But our evidence fell on deaf ears,” Zada complains.

In contrast, Perfect 10 adds, a California District Court found that Giganews had done nothing wrong, allowed it to continue copying and selling access to Perfect 10’s content, and awarded the Usenet provider $5.63m in attorneys fees.

“Prior to this case, no court had ever awarded fees to an alleged infringer, unless they were found to either own the copyrights at issue, or established a fair use defense. Neither was the case here,” Zada adds.

While Perfect 10 has filed a petition with the Supreme Court, the odds of being granted a review are particularly small. Only time will tell how this case will end, but it seems unlikely that the adult publisher will enjoy a happy ending, one in which it doesn’t have to pay Giganews millions of dollars in attorney’s fees.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Director of Kim Dotcom Documentary Speaks Out on Piracy

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/director-of-kim-dotcom-documentary-speaks-out-on-piracy-170902/

When you make a documentary about Kim Dotcom, someone who’s caught up in one of the largest criminal copyright infringement cases in history, the piracy issue is unavoidable.

And indeed, the topic is discussed in depth in “Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web,” which enjoyed its digital release early last week.

As happens with most digital releases, a pirated copy soon followed. While no filmmaker would actively encourage people not to pay for their work, director Annie Goldson wasn’t surprised at all when she saw the first unauthorized copies appear online.

The documentary highlights that piracy is in part triggered by lacking availability, so it was a little ironic that the film itself wasn’t released worldwide on all services. However, Goldson had no direct influence on the distribution process.

“It was inevitable really. We have tried to adopt a distribution model that we hope will encourage viewers to buy legal copies making it available as widely as possible,” Goldson informs TorrentFreak.

“We had sold the rights, so didn’t have complete control over reach or pricing which I think are two critical variables that do impact on the degree of piracy. Although I think our sales agent did make good strides towards a worldwide release.”

Now that millions of pirates have access to her work for free, it will be interesting to see how this impacts sales. For now, however, there’s still plenty of legitimate interest, with the film now appearing in the iTunes top ten of independent films.

In any case, Goldson doesn’t subscribe to the ‘one instance of piracy is a lost sale’ theory and notes that views about piracy are sharply polarized.

“Some claim financial devastation while others argue that infringement leads to ‘buzz,’ that this can generate further sales – so we shall see. At one level, watching this unfold is quite an interesting research exercise into distribution, which ironically is one of the big themes of the film of course,” Goldson notes.

Piracy overall doesn’t help the industry forward though, she says, as it hurts the development of better distribution models.

“I’m opposed to copyright infringement and piracy as it muddies the waters when it comes to devising a better model for distribution, one that would nurture and support artists and creatives, those that do the hard yards.”

Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web trailer

The director has no issues with copyright enforcement either. Not just to safeguard financial incentives, but also because the author does have moral and ethical rights about how their works are distributed. That said, instead of pouring money into enforcement, it might be better spent on finding a better business model.

“I’m with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales who says [in the documentary] that the problem is primarily with the existing business model. If you make films genuinely available at prices people can afford, at the same time throughout the world, piracy would drop to low levels.

“I think most people would prefer to access their choice of entertainment legally rather than delving into dark corners of the Internet. I might be wrong of course,” Goldson adds.

In any case, ‘simply’ enforcing piracy into oblivion seems to be an unworkable prospect – not without massive censorship, or the shutdown of the entire Internet.

“I feel the risk is that anti-piracy efforts will step up and erode important freedoms. Or we have to close down the Internet altogether. After all, the unwieldy beast is a giant copying machine – making copies is what it does well,” Goldson says.

The problems is that the industry is keeping piracy intact through its own business model. When people can’t get what they want, when, and where they want it, they often turn to pirate sites.

“One problem is that the industry has been slow to change and hence we now have generations of viewers who have had to regularly infringe to be part of a global conversation.

“I do feel if the industry is promoting and advertising works internationally, using globalized communication and social media, then denying viewers from easily accessing works, either through geo-blocking or price points, obviously, digitally-savvy viewers will find them regardless,” Goldson adds.

And yes, this ironically also applies to her own documentary.

The solution is to continue to improve the legal options. This is easier said than done, as Goldson and her team tried hard, so it won’t happen overnight. However, universal access for a decent price would seem to be the future.

Unless the movie industry prefers to shut down the Internet entirely, of course.

For those who haven’t seen “Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web yet,” the film is available globally on Vimeo OnDemand, and in a lot of territories on iTunes, the PlayStation Store, Amazon, Google Play, and the Microsoft/Xbox Store. In the US there is also Vudu, Fandango Now & Verizon.

If that doesn’t work, then…

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Kim Dotcom Wants K.im to Trigger a “Copyright Revolution”

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-wants-k-im-to-trigger-a-copyright-revolution-170831/

For many people Kim Dotcom is synonymous with Megaupload, the file-sharing giant that was taken down by the U.S. Government early 2012.

While Megaupload is no more, the New Zealand Internet entrepreneur is working on a new file-sharing site. Initially dubbed Megaupload 2, the new service will be called K.im, and it will be quite different from its predecessor.

This week Dotcom, who’s officially the chief “evangelist” of the service, showed a demo to a few thousand people revealing more about what it’s going to offer.

K.im is not a central hosting service, quite the contrary. It will allow users to upload content and distribute it to dozens of other services, including Dropbox, Google, Reddit, Storj, and even torrent sites.

The files are distributed across the Internet where they can be accessed freely. However, there is a catch. The uploaders set a price for each download and people who want a copy can only unlock it through the K.im app or browser addon, after they’ve paid.

Pick your price

K.im, paired with Bitcache, is basically a micropayment solution. It allows creators to charge the public for everything they upload. Every download is tied to a Bitcoin transaction, turning files into their own “stores.”

Kim Dotcom tells TorrentFreak that he sees the service as a copyright revolution. It should be a win-win solution for independent creators, rightsholders, and people who are used to pirating stuff.

“I’m working for both sides. For the copyright holders and also for the people who what to pay for content but have been geo-blocked and then are forced to download for free,” Dotcom says.

Like any other site that allows user uploaded content, K.im can also be used by pirates who want to charge a small fee for spreading infringing content. This is something Dotcom is aware of, but he has a solution in mind.

Much like YouTube, which allows rightsholders to “monetize” videos that use their work, K.im will provide an option to claim pirated content. Rightsholders can then change the price and all revenue will go to them.

So, if someone uploads a pirated copy of the Game of Thrones season finale through K.im, HBO can claim that file, charge an appropriate fee, and profit from it. The uploader, meanwhile, maintains his privacy.

“It is the holy grail of copyright enforcement. It is my gift to Hollywood, the movie studios, and everyone else,” Dotcom says.

Dotcom believes that piracy is in large part caused by an availability problem. People can often not find the content they’re looking for so it’s K.im’s goal to distribute files as widely as possible. This includes several torrent sites, which are currently featured in the demo.

Torrent uploads?

Interestingly, it will be hard to upload content to sites such as YTS, EZTV, KickassTorrents, and RARBG, as they’ve been shut down or don’t allow user uploads. However, Dotcom stresses that the names are just examples, and that they are still working on partnering with various sites.

Whether torrent sites will be eager to cooperate has yet to be seen. It’s possible that the encrypted files, which can’t be opened without paying, will be seen as “spam” by traditional torrent sites.

Also, from a user perspective, one has to wonder how many people are willing to pay for something if they set out to pirate it. After all, there will always be plenty of free options for those who refuse to or can’t pay.

Dotcom, however, is convinced that K.im can create a “copyright revolution.” He stresses that site owners and uploaders can greatly benefit from it as they receive affiliate fees, even after a pirated file is claimed by a rightsholder.

In addition, he says it will revolutionize copyright enforcement, as copyright holders can monetize the work of pirates. That is, if they are willing to work with the service.

“Rightsholders can turn piracy traffic into revenue and users can access the content on any platform. Since every file is a store, it doesn’t matter where it ends up,” Dotcom says.

Dotcom does have a very valid point here. Many people have simply grown used to pirating because it’s much more convenient than using a dozen different services. In Dotcom’s vision, people can just use one site to access everything.

The ideas don’t stop at sharing files either. In the future, Dotcom also wants to use the micropayment option to offer YouTubers and media organizations to accept payments from the public, BBC notes.

There’s still a long way to go before K.im and Bitcache go public though. The expected launch date is not final yet, but the services are expected to go live in mid-to-late 2018.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Entire Kim Dotcom Spying Operation Was Illegal, High Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/entire-kim-dotcom-spying-operation-was-illegal-high-court-rules-170825/

In the months that preceded the January 2012 raid on file-storage site Megaupload, authorities in New Zealand used the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) spy agency to monitor Kim and Mona Dotcom, plus Megaupload co-defendant Bram van der Kolk.

When this fact was revealed it developed into a crisis. The GCSB was forbidden by law from conducting surveillance on its own citizens or permanent residents in the country, which led to former Prime Minister John Key later apologizing for the error.

With Dotcom determined to uncover the truth, the entrepreneur launched legal action in pursuit of the information illegally obtained by GCSB and to obtain compensation. In July, the High Court determined that Dotcom wouldn’t get access to the information but it also revealed that the scope of the spying went on much longer than previously admitted, a fact later confirmed by the police.

This raised the specter that not only did the GCSB continue to spy on Dotcom after it knew it was acting illegally, but that an earlier affidavit from a GCSB staff member was suspect.

With the saga continuing to drag on, revelations published in New Zealand this morning indicate that not only was the spying on Dotcom illegal, the entire spying operation – which included his Megaupload co-defendants – was too.

The reports are based on documents released by Lawyer Peter Spring, who is acting for Bram van der Kolk and Mathias Ortmann. Spring says that the High Court decision, which dates back to December but has only just been made available, shows that “the whole surveillance operation fell outside the authorization of the GCSB legislation as it was at the relevant time”.

Since Dotcom is a permanent resident of New Zealand, it’s long been established that the GCSB acted illegally when it spied on him. As foreigners, however, Megaupload co-defendants Finn Batato and Mathias Ortmann were previously considered valid surveillance targets.

It now transpires that the GCSB wasn’t prepared to mount a defense or reveal its methods concerning their surveillance, something which boosted the case against it.

“The circumstances of the interceptions of Messrs Ortmann and Batato’s communications are Top Secret and it has not proved possible to plead to the allegations the plaintiffs have made without revealing information which would jeopardize the national security of New Zealand,” the Court documents read.

“As a result the GCSB is deemed to have admitted the allegations in the statement of claim which relate to the manner in which the interceptions were effected.”

Speaking with RadioNZ, Grant Illingworth, a lawyer representing Ortmann and van der Kolk, said the decision calls the entire GCSB operation into doubt.

“The GCSB has now admitted that the unlawfulness was not just dependent upon residency issues, it went further. The reason it went further was because it didn’t have authorization to carry out the kind of surveillance that it was carrying out under the legislation, as it was at that time,” Illingworth said.

In comments to NZHerald, Illingworth added that the decision meant that the damages case for Ortmann and van der Kolk had come to an end. He refused to respond to questions of whether damages had been paid or a settlement reached.

He did indicate, however, that there could be implications for the battle underway to have Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann and van der Kolk extradited to the United States.

“If there was illegality in the arrest and search phase and that illegality has not previously been made known in the extradition context then it could be relevant to the extradition,” Illingworth said.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Pirates Leak Copy of Kim Dotcom Documentary Online

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirates-leak-copy-of-kim-dotcom-documentary-online-170824/

In recent years, we have writen dozens of articles on Kim Dotcom, Megaupload’s shutdown, and all the intrigue surrounding the case.

It’s a story worth documenting and not just in writing. This is what the people behind the documentary Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web realized as well.

With cooperation from the mastermind behind the defunct file-sharing site, they made a thrilling documentary that captures the essence of the story, which is far from over.

This week the film was released to the wider public, made available for sale on various online platforms including iTunes and Amazon Prime. Thus far things are going well, with the movie making its way into various top charts, including a second place in the iTunes documentary category.

However, if we believe entertainment industry rhetoric, this meteoric rise will soon be all over.

Earlier today the first pirated copies of “Caught in The Web” started to appear online. It is widely available on The Pirate Bay, for example, and shows up on various other “pirate” download and streaming sites as well.

The leaked documentary

Leaks happen every day, and this one’s not any different. That being said, people who followed the Dotcom saga may appreciate the irony, since Megaupload was a popular destination for pirates as well. So, a chunk of the site’s former users probably prefers to grab a free version. To sample, of course.

This is especially true for those who hit several roadblocks in trying to access the film from official outlets. Over the past few days, some people complained that “Caught in the Web” isn’t legally available through their preferred legal channel due to geographical restrictions.

Dotcom, still accused by the US Government of depriving copyright holders of $500 million in one of the country’s largest copyright infringement cases, responded appropriately when a Twitter follower pointed this out.

Not available

“They are wondering why people are pirating? If you’re willing to pay but you can’t find it legally, why is it your or my fault?” he wrote.

“If the Megaupload documentary is only available in the US iTunes store then I totally understand if you download or stream it elsewhere,” Dotcom added in another tweet.

The documentary is available in more countries, but not in all Amazon or iTunes stores. So, with the sympathy of the documentary’s main subject, people with no legal alternatives don’t have to feel as bad when they choose to pirate it instead.

That doesn’t make it less illegal, of course, but we doubt that the makers will actively pursue people for it.

Meanwhile, the people who were tasked with distributing the film may want to have another chat with Kim Dotcom. In recent years he has repeatedly sent out a concise list of tips on how to stop piracy.

Worth a read.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Police Confirm ‘Extra’ Illegal Spying on Kim Dotcom

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/police-confirms-extra-illegal-spying-on-kim-dotcom-170727/

Kim Dotcom has made headlines in the press again over the past week, but not for his own alleged misconduct.

Instead, there is a renewed focus on the unlawful surveillance practices of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

During the months leading up to the raid, the GCSB carried out surveillance on Dotcom but failed to check his residency status. The outfit was not allowed to spy on its own residents and clearly crossed a line with its unlawful information gathering.

To find out what was collected, Dotcom asked the High Court for access to the surveilled information, but last week this request was denied. While this came as a disappointment, the court did reveal something else of interest.

As it turns out, the illegal spying on Dotcom didn’t stop on January 20, 2012, when Dotcom was arrested. Instead, it carried on for another two months, ending March 22, 2012.

Initially, some people thought that the High Court may have made a mistake in the timeline, but with pressure mounting, New Zealand police have now confirmed that this is not the case. The illegal spying did indeed continue for two more months.

“We’ve checked the file and can confirm that the dates you’ve highlighted were known to the Operation Grey team. They were considered as part of the investigation and decision-making about the outcome,” a police spokesman told NZ Herald.

While this is all news to the public, the police and others were well-aware of the additional spying. This raises a series of questions, which Megaupload’s founder would like to see answered.

“Does this mean that New Zealand Police knew that the GCSB affidavits were false? GCSB told the Courts under oath that the illegal spying ended two months earlier. Not in March but in January,” Dotcom says, commenting on the news.

The issue is more than a matter of oversight, Dotcom says, and he calls for a proper investigation where the people responsible will be held accountable.

“New Zealand Police investigated GCSB because of the illegal spying but nobody was ever charged with any crime. How is that possible if the Police knew that the GCSB lied to the New Zealand Courts? What else would we discover if we had a fair and open hearing instead of secret submissions in closed Court?

“The New Zealand Courts have been fooled by the GCSB and the Police. What’s next? What are the consequences?” Dotcom adds.

In recent years the Megaupload case has been a stumbling block for several politicians and the latest revelations have put Prime Minister Bill English under pressure. It’s clear that several high ranked officials would rather see Dotcom leave, but thus far the fiasco is more likely to help him stay.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Kim Dotcom Spying Fiasco Puts Prime Minister Under Pressure

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-spying-fiasco-puts-prime-minister-under-pressure-170725/

In the lead up to the January 2012 raid on cloud storage site Megaupload, authorities in New Zealand used the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) agency to spy on Kim and Mona Dotcom, plus Megaupload co-defendant Bram van der Kolk. That should not have happened.

Intelligence agency GCSB was forbidden by law from conducting surveillance on its own citizens or permanent residents in the country. Former Prime Minister John Key later apologized for the glaring error but for Dotcom, that wasn’t enough. The entrepreneur launched legal action in pursuit of the information illegally obtained by GCSB and appropriate compensation.

Last week the High Court decided that Dotcom wouldn’t get access to the information but it also revealed something of much interest. Instead of confirming that the illegal spying on Dotcom took place December 16, 2011, through to January 20, 2012, the range was extended by two months to March 22, 2012.

The implications of the extension are numerous, not least that GCSB continued to spy on Dotcom even after it knew it was acting illegally. The reveal also undermines an earlier affidavit from a GCSB staff member, problems which are now returning to haunt New Zealand Prime Minister, Bill English.

When the spying was taking place, John Key was Prime Minister but when Key traveled overseas, English was left at the helm. As a result, when the possibility that Dotcom had been spied on was raised during court hearings in 2012, it was English who was approached by the GCSB with a request to have its involvement made a state secret.

According to NZHerald, English was briefed by then-GCSB director Ian Fletcher and former acting director Hugh Wolfensohn on GCSB’s assistance to the police in the Dotcom case.

The content of those discussion has not been made public but English appears to have been convinced of the need to keep the information private. He subsequently signed a ministerial certificate, which barred disclosure of GCSB activities, even by people asked to provide them in a court of law.

However, since GCSB had broken the law by illegally spying on the Dotcoms and van Der Kolk, the certificate subsequently collapsed. But, like a dog with a bone, Dotcom isn’t letting this go, claiming that acting Prime Minister English acted unlawfully by signing the certificate in an effort to suppress wrong-doing.

“The ministerial certificate was an attempted cover-up. Bill English must have been briefed that GCSB was facing legal troubles because of unlawful conduct,” he told NZHerald.

“And only after the attempted gag-order failed in the High Court did the Government admit unlawful spying with a fake narrative that it was all a big mistake, a misunderstanding of the law, an error.”

Following the judgment last week that revealed the extended spying period, Dotcom confirms that there will be fresh legal action to obtain information from GCSB.

“The new revelations completely undermine the government narrative and it raises new questions about what really happened,” Dotcom concludes.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Kim Dotcom Denied Access to Illegally Obtained Spy Recordings

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-denied-access-to-illegally-obtained-spy-recordings-170720/

In the months leading up to the infamous raid on Kim Dotcom’s New Zealand mansion and his now defunct cloud storage site Megaupload, the entrepreneur was under surveillance.

Not only were the MPAA and RIAA amassing information, the governments of the United States and New Zealand were neck-deep in the investigation too, using the FBI and local police to gather information. What soon became evident, however, is that the authorities in New Zealand did so while breaking the rules.

Between 16 December 2011 to 22 March 2012, New Zealand used the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) agency to spy on the private communications of Kim and Mona Dotcom, plus Megaupload co-defendant Bram van der Kolk. This was hugely problematic.

GCSB is an intelligence agency of the New Zealand government responsible for spying on external entities. It is forbidden by law from conducting surveillance on its own citizens or permanent residents in the country. His standing in the country meant that Dotcom should not have been spied on.

“Of course I apologize to Mr Dotcom, and I apologize to New Zealanders,” then New Zealand Prime Minister John Key later said.

Since it was established that New Zealand illegally spied on Dotcom, the Megaupload founder has been trying to find out what information the GCSB gathered about him, then wife Mona, and former colleague Bram van der Kolk. According to Dotcom, there was a total of 87 breaches, all of which the government wants to keep secret.

Since then, Dotcom has been fighting to gain access to the information GCSB illegally obtained, while seeking compensation for the damages caused.

In a ruling handed down this morning, the High Court details its findings in respect of a three-day hearing that took place early April 2017, during which GCSB said the raw, unredacted information should be withheld from Dotcom on national security grounds.

GCSB and the government argued that the public interest in the disclosure of the material is outweighed by the public interest in withholding it, adding that the security and defense of New Zealand would be compromised on the world stage.

For their part, the Dotcoms said that nondisclosure of the unredacted documents breaches their rights under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. Given that any damages award is directly linked to the extent and nature of the illegal intrusions into their private lives, access to the documents is paramount.

That being the case, they argued that the public interest in disclosure outweighs any public interest in the information being withheld.

This morning, citing a 2013 Court of Appeal verdict that ruled the GCSB didn’t have to release the raw communications, Justice Murray Gilbert insisted that the recordings will not be released.

“A number of the redactions in the discovered documents are to protect the identity or contact details of personnel who were involved in or associated with the operation or copied into email communications concerning it,” Justice Gilbert wrote.

“It is hard to see how any of this information could be relevant to the relief that should be granted in this proceeding. Again, the public interest in withholding disclosure of this information far outweighs any public interest in its disclosure.”

In a statement, Kim Dotcom expressed his frustrations, noting that the government is doing everything it can to suppress details of the illegal surveillance.

“After being caught, the GCSB has fought to keep what it did, and how, a secret from me and from you, the New Zealand public. Worse, it seeks to hide behind ‘national security’ to keep the truth from us,” Dotcom said.

“To keep this secret, the GCSB applied to the High Court. It filed secret evidence and secret submissions. The GCSB’s lawyers were heard in a ‘closed’ court with the Judge, where they made secret submissions and secret witnesses gave secret evidence.”

Dotcom said neither his lawyers nor the public was allowed to be present during the hearing. And when his legal team could be heard, they were significantly hampered in their work.

“When my lawyers were heard, after that hearing, they had to make submissions as to why information they were not allowed to see, for reasons they were not allowed to know, should be disclosed. They were effectively shooting at a moving target, in the dark, with one hand tied behind their backs,” Dotcom said.

The Megaupload founder suggests there is there is a clear double-standard when he has to be tried in public for his alleged crimes, but when it comes to offenses carried out by the government, the process takes place behind closed doors.

“I will appeal this judgment and ask the Court of Appeal to shine some cleansing sunlight on what happened here. If there is transparency, there is accountability, and we can prevent this happening again,” he concludes.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Kim Dotcom Opposes US’s “Fugitive” Claims at Supreme Court

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-opposes-uss-fugitive-claims-supreme-court-170622/

megaupload-logoWhen Megaupload and Kim Dotcom were raided five years ago, the authorities seized millions of dollars in cash and other property.

The US government claimed the assets were obtained through copyright crimes so went after the bank accounts, cars, and other seized possessions of the Megaupload defendants.

Kim Dotcom and his colleagues were branded as “fugitives” and the Government won its case. Dotcom’s legal team quickly appealed this verdict, but lost once more at the Fourth Circuit appeals court.

A few weeks ago Dotcom and his former colleagues petitioned the Supreme Court to take on the case.

They don’t see themselves as “fugitives” and want the assets returned. The US Government opposed the request, but according to a new reply filed by Megaupload’s legal team, the US Government ignores critical questions.

The Government has a “vested financial stake” in maintaining the current situation, they write, which allows the authorities to use their “fugitive” claims as an offensive weapon.

“Far from being directed towards persons who have fled or avoided our country while claiming assets in it, fugitive disentitlement is being used offensively to strip foreigners of their assets abroad,” the reply brief (pdf) reads.

According to Dotcom’s lawyers there are several conflicting opinions from lower courts, which should be clarified by the Supreme Court. That Dotcom and his colleagues have decided to fight their extradition in New Zealand, doesn’t warrant the seizure of their assets.

“Absent review, forfeiture of tens of millions of dollars will be a fait accompli without the merits being reached,” they write, adding that this is all the more concerning because the US Government’s criminal case may not be as strong as claimed.

“This is especially disconcerting because the Government’s criminal case is so dubious. When the Government characterizes Petitioners as ‘designing and profiting from a system that facilitated wide-scale copyright infringement,’ it continues to paint a portrait of secondary copyright infringement, which is not a crime.”

The defense team cites several issues that warrant review and urges the Supreme Court to hear the case. If not, the Government will effectively be able to use assets seizures as a pressure tool to urge foreign defendants to come to the US.

“If this stands, the Government can weaponize fugitive disentitlement in order to claim assets abroad,” the reply brief reads.

“It is time for the Court to speak to the Questions Presented. Over the past two decades it has never had a better vehicle to do so, nor is any such vehicle elsewhere in sight,” Dotcom’s lawyers add.

Whether the Supreme Court accepts or denies the case will likely be decided in the weeks to come.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Alleged KickassTorrents Owner Considers ‘Voluntary Surrender’ to the US

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/alleged-kickasstorrents-owner-considers-voluntary-surrender-to-the-us-170616/

Earlier this year a Polish court ruled that Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of the defunct torrent site KickassTorrents, can be extradited to the United States.

The decision came as a disappointment to the defense team, which quickly announced an appeal.

Vaulin has since been released on bail and currently resides in a Warsaw apartment. His release has made it easier to communicate with his attorneys in the United States, who have started negotiations with the US Government.

While the extradition appeal is still ongoing, it now appears that under the right conditions Vaulin might consider traveling to the United States voluntarily, so he can “resolve” the pending charges.

This is what the defense team states in a motion for a status conference (pdf), which was submitted earlier this week.

“Mr. Vaulin and his counsel in the United States recently have engaged in discussions with the government to determine if the parties can resolve this matter, or at least certain significant issues,” Vaulin’s legal team writes.

This includes “…issues relating to the proper calculation of the sentencing guidelines and/or the possibility of an agreement for bond should Mr. Vaulin decide to voluntarily surrender to the United States authorities and appear before this Court to resolve the pending charges.”

While the alleged KickassTorrents operator would be open to a voluntary “surrender,” he probably wants several guarantees before that happens. TorrentFreak reached out to the defense team for more information, but they preferred not to comment on ongoing negotiations.

Previously, Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom made a similar offer in his criminal case, requesting living expenses and a fair trial. The US Government never took him up on this offer, it appears, as Dotcom still resides in New Zealand.

In Vaulin’s case, the defense previously submitted a motion to dismiss some or all of the charges in the indictment, and they hope a ruling on this will bring more clarity soon. With the requested status conference, both parties will at least be able to update the court on various procedural issues

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

US Opposes Kim Dotcom’s Supreme Court Petition Over Seized Millions

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/us-opposes-kim-dotcoms-supreme-court-petition-over-seized-millions-170613/

megaupload-logoFollowing the 2012 raid on Megaupload and Kim Dotcom, U.S. and New Zealand authorities seized millions of dollars in cash and other property.

Claiming the assets were obtained through copyright and money laundering crimes, the U.S. government launched a separate civil action in which it asked the court to forfeit the bank accounts, cars, and other seized possessions of the Megaupload defendants.

The U.S. branded Dotcom and his colleagues as “fugitives” and won their case. Dotcom’s legal team quickly appealed this verdict, but lost once more at the Fourth Circuit appeals court.

However, Dotcom didn’t give up and petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear the case. Together with the other defendants, he wants the Supreme Court to overturn the “fugitive disentitlement” ruling and the forfeiture of his assets.

The crux of the case is whether or not the District Court’s order to forfeit an estimated $67 million in assets was right. The defense argues that Dotcom and the other Megaupload defendants were wrongfully labeled as fugitives by the Department of Justice.

“If left undisturbed, the Fourth Circuit’s decision enables the Government to obtain civil forfeiture of every penny of a foreign citizen’s foreign assets based on unproven allegations of the most novel, dubious United States crimes,” Dotcom’s legal team wrote.

The United States Government disagrees with this assessment. In their opposition brief (pdf), submitted late last week and picked up by ARS, the Department of Justice asks the Supreme Court not to take on the case.

According to the US, the decision to label Dotcom and his colleagues as fugitives is how Congress intended the relevant section of the law to work. In addition, the current rulings are not incompatible with previous court decisions in similar cases.

“Petitioners also seek review of the court of appeals’ holding that they qualify as ‘fugitives’ under the federal fugitive-disentitlement statute […] because they declined to enter the United States with the specific intent to avoid prosecution,” DoJ writes in its brief.

“That contention does not warrant review. The court of appeals correctly construed Section 2466 in light of its text and purpose. Its holding applying the statute to the facts here does not conflict with any decision of another circuit,” the brief adds.

The full opposition brief responds in detail to the petition of Dotcom and his colleagues, with the US ultimately concluding that the Supreme Court should deny the request.

Dotcom and his legal team have previously stated that they need more resources to mount a proper defense against the criminal complaint. The case has been ongoing for more than half a decade and is being fought in several courts, which has proven to be rather expensive.

Whether the Supreme Court accepts or denies the case will likely be decided in the weeks to come. Until then, the waiting continues.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Kim Dotcom Says Family Trust Could Sue Mega Investor

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-says-family-trust-could-sue-mega-investor-170511/

One year after the raid on Megaupload and his sprawling mansion, Kim Dotcom fought back in grand fashion by launching new file-hosting site Mega.

It was a roaring success, signing up hundreds of thousands of users in the first few hours alone. Mega, it seemed, might soon be kicking at heels of the unprecedented traction of Megaupload.

While Mega continued to grow, in July 2015 Dotcom indicated that his previously warm connections with the site may have soured.

“I’m not involved in Mega anymore. Neither in a managing nor in a shareholder capacity,” he said.

Dotcom went on to claim that a then-unnamed Chinese investor (wanted in China for fraud) had used straw-men and businesses to accumulate more and more Mega shares, shares that were later seized as part of an investigation by the New Zealand government.

Mega bosses angrily denied that there had been any hostile takeover, noting that “those shareholders” who had decided not to subscribe to recent issues had “…been diluted accordingly. That has been their choice.”

But a year later and the war of words between Dotcom and Mega was still simmering, with the Chinese investor now being openly named as Bill Liu.

A notorious high-roller who allegedly gambled $293m at New Zealand’s SkyCity casino, Liu was soon being described by Dotcom as China’s “fifth most-wanted criminal” due to a huge investigation into the businessman’s dealings taking place back home.

Mega saw things a little differently, however.

“Mr Liu has a shareholding interest but has no management or board position so he certainly doesn’t control Mega,” the company insisted at the time.

Dotcom disagreed strongly with that assertion and this week, more than a year later, the topic has raised its head yet again.

“In a nutshell, Bill Liu has taken control of Mega by using straw men to buy shares for him, ultimately giving him the majority on the board,” Dotcom informs TF.

In common with the raid on Megaupload, the Mega/Liu backstory is like something out of a Hollywood movie.

This week the NZ Herald published an amazing report detailing Liu’s life since he first entered New Zealand in 2001. A section explains how he first got involved with Mega.

Tony Lentino, who was the founder of domain name registrar Instra, was also Mega’s first CEO. It’s reported that he later fell out with Dotcom and wanted to sell his shares in the company.

Bill Liu wanted to invest so Lentino went to meet him at his penthouse apartment on the 35th floor of the Metropolis tower in central Auckland.

Lentino later told police that Liu opened a bottle of Penfolds Grange wine during the meeting – no joke at $800 per bottle. That developed into a discussion about Liu buying Lentino’s stake in Mega and a somewhat interesting trip back home for Lentino.

“You want one of my cars to take home?” Liu allegedly asked Lentino.

The basement contained a Porsche, a Bentley and a Rolls-Royce – and Lentino was invited to take his pick. He took the NZ$400,000 Rolls as part of the NZ$4.2 million share in Mega he transferred to Liu.

Well, not quite to Liu, directly at least.

“When it came time to sign the deal, the shares were to be split into two parcels: one in the name of Zhao Wu Shen, a close friend of [Liu], and a trust company,” NZ Herald reports.

“It was the third transaction where Yan had been quietly buying into Mega – nothing was in his name, but he now controlled 18.8 per cent.”

It is not clear how much Liu currently owns but Lentino later told police (who believed that Liu was hiding his assets) that the Chinese businessman was the “invisible CEO” of Mega.

Speaking with TF this week, Dotcom says that Liu achieved his status by holding Mega back.

“Liu used his power to prevent Mega from monetizing its traffic via advertising sales or premium account sales and by doing so he created an artificial situation in which Mega had to raise more money to survive,” Dotcom says.

“He then pumped double-digit millions of dollars into the business via his straw men in order to dilute all other shareholders to almost zero.”

Dotcom says that Mega could’ve been “instantly profitable, ” but instead Liu intentionally forced the company into a loss-making situation, safe in the knowledge he could “turn on profitability at the push of a button.”

Dotcom says Liu chose not to do that until he directly or indirectly owned “almost all” of the shares in Mega. That, he says, came at the expense of his family, who had invested in Mega.

“The family trust that was setup for the benefit of my children owned the majority of Mega until Bill Liu entered the stage with his unlawful actions to take control of the company,” Dotcom says.

“He ran it at a loss when it could have been profitable, and then diluted other shareholders.”

According to Dotcom, the people behind his family trust are now considering their options, including legal action against Liu and others.

“The trustees of the family trust are now considering legal action against all parties involved in this dilution scam in light of the new information that has become public today from other court proceedings against Bill Liu,” Dotcom concludes.

It’s difficult to find a more colorful character than Dotcom, but Bill Liu certainly gives Dotcom a run for his money. His story can be found here, it’s almost unbelievable.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Kim Dotcom Asks Police to Urgently Interview FBI Director Jim Comey

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-asks-police-to-urgently-interview-fbi-director-jim-comey-170425/

When authorities in the United States and New Zealand shut down Megaupload in 2012, large amounts of data were seized in both locations. The data in the US is currently gathering dust but over in New Zealand yet another storm is brewing.

In the weeks following the raid, hard drives seized from Dotcom in New Zealand were cloned and sent to the FBI in the United States. A judge later found that this should not have been allowed, ruling that the copies in the FBI’s possession must be destroyed.

Like almost every process in the Megaupload saga the ruling went to appeal and in 2014 Dotcom won again, with the Court of Appeal upholding the lower court’s decision, stating that the removal of the clones to the United States was “plainly not authorized.”

At the time Dotcom said that fighting back is “encoded in his DNA” and today he’s taking that fight to the FBI. On Sunday, FBI director James Comey touched down in Queenstown, New Zealand, for an intelligence conference. With Comey in the country, Dotcom seized the moment to file a complaint with local police.

In the complaint shared with TorrentFreak, lawyer Simon Cogan draws police attention to the Court of Appeal ruling determining that clones of Dotcom drives were unlawfully shipped to the FBI in the United States. Since Comey is in the country, police should take the opportunity to urgently interview him over this potential criminal matter.

“As director of the FBI, Mr Comey will be able to assist Police with their investigation of the matters raised in Mr Dotcom’s complaint,” the complaint reads, noting several key areas of interest as detailed below.

Speaking with TF, Dotcom says that since the New Zealand High Court and Court of Appeal have both ruled that the FBI had no authority to remove his data from New Zealand, the FBI acted unlawfully.

“In simple terms the FBI has committed theft,” Dotcom says.

“The NZ courts don’t have jurisdiction in the US and could therefore not assist me in getting my data back. But FBI Director Comey has just arrived in New Zealand for a conference meaning he is in the jurisdiction of NZ courts. We have asked the NZ police to question Mr Comey about the theft and to investigate.”

In addition to seeking assistance from the police, Dotcom says that he’s also initiated a new lawsuit to have his data returned.

“We have also launched a separate civil court action to force Mr Comey to return my data to New Zealand and to erase any and all copies the FBI / US Govt holds. We expect an urgent hearing of the matter in the High Court tomorrow,” Dotcom concludes.

It’s likely that this will be another Dotcom saga that will run and run, but despite the seriousness of the matter in hand, Dotcom was happy to take to Twitter this morning, delivering a video message in his own inimitable style.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Kim Dotcom Takes Fight Over Seized Millions to US Supreme Court

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-takes-fight-over-seized-millions-to-us-supreme-court-170410/

megaupload-logoFollowing the 2012 raid on Megaupload and Kim Dotcom, U.S. and New Zealand authorities seized millions of dollars in cash and other property.

Claiming the assets were obtained through copyright and money laundering crimes, the U.S. government launched a separate civil action in which it asked the court to forfeit the bank accounts, cars, and other seized possessions of the Megaupload defendants.

The U.S. branded Dotcom and his colleagues as “fugitives” and won their case. Dotcom’s legal team quickly appealed this verdict, but lost once more at the Fourth Circuit appeals court.

However, Dotcom is determined to regain access to his property and has now taken the case to the US Supreme Court. Together with the other defendants, he filed a petition to the Supreme Court to overturn the “fugitive disentitlement” ruling and the forfeiture of his assets.

The crux of the case is whether or not the District Court’s order to forfeit an estimated $67 million in assets was right. The defense argues that Dotcom and the other Megaupload defendants were wrongfully labeled as fugitives by the the Department of Justice.

Dotcom’s legal team warns that, if the current verdict stands, the US Government can seize the assets of foreign nationals based on unproven claims.

“If left undisturbed, the Fourth Circuit’s decision enables the Government to obtain civil forfeiture of every penny of a foreign citizen’s foreign assets based on unproven allegations of the most novel, dubious United States crimes,” the Supreme Court petition reads.

“And the Government can do so without affording a foreign defendant any opportunity to challenge in court whether the foreign assets are traceable to criminal conduct, whether the Government’s allegations are sufficient to establish the charged crime, or even whether the charged ‘crime’ is a crime at all.”

The decision of the lower courts invites abuse according to Dotcom’s legal team, as it allows the Government to seize assets of people who have never been to the United States, seemingly with little evidence.

By taking on the case, the Supreme Court has the chance to clarify what the Government is permitted to do in such cases, something that isn’t entirely clear based on current case law.

“In sum, this case poses questions that have divided the lower courts and carry important implications for federal jurisdiction, constitutional law, statutory interpretation, civil procedure, and international relations,” Dotcom’s legal team writes.

If the US Supreme Court takes on the case, which has yet to be decided, Kim Dotcom has a chance to regain access to the million of dollars the authorities have taken from him.

The full petition is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Court Extends Hold on Megaupload’s MPAA and RIAA Lawsuits

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-extends-hold-on-megauploads-mpaa-and-riaa-lawsuits-170409/

megaupload-logoWell over five years have passed since Megaupload was shutdown and it’s still unclear how the criminal proceedings will unfold.

A few weeks ago the New Zealand High Court ruled that Kim Dotcom and his former colleagues can be extradited to the US. Not on copyright grounds, but for conspiracy to defraud.

Following the ruling Dotcom quickly announced that he would take the matter to the Court of Appeal, which will prolong the case for several months at least.

While all parties await the outcome of this appeal, the criminal case in the United States remains pending. The same goes for the civil cases launched by the MPAA and RIAA in 2014.

Since the civil cases may influence the criminal proceedings, Megaupload’s legal team previously managed to put these cases on hold, and this week another extension was granted.

Previously there were concerns that the long delays could result in the destruction of evidence, as some of Megaupload’s hard drives were starting to fail. However, after the parties agreed on a solution to back-up and restore the files, this is no longer an issue.

“With the preservation order now in place, Defendant Megaupload hereby moves the Court to enter the attached proposed order, continuing the stay in this case for an additional six months, subject to the terms and conditions stated in the proposed order,” the company wrote in the motion to stay.

On Thursday U.S. District Court Judge Liam O’Grady granted Megaupload’s request to stay both lawsuits until October this year, barring any new developments. The music and movie companies didn’t oppose the motion.

The order of U.S. District Court Judge Liam O’Grady is available here (pdf). A copy of Megaupload’s request can be found here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

FBI Cannot Examine Megaupload Servers, Canada Appeal Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/fbi-cannot-examine-megaupload-servers-canada-appeal-court-rules-170403/

It’s incredible to think that more than five years after the raids on Megaupload, in some respects the case has made virtually no progress. This is particularly true of the defunct company’s servers in Canada.

Canada became quietly involved in the Megaupload investigation in December 2011, around a month before the raids in New Zealand, United States, and elsewhere. The U.S. Department of Justice asked the Minister of Justice to grant to obtain a search warrant authorizing the seizure of 32 leased computer servers located in Toronto.

On January 18, 2012, a Superior Court judge in Ontario issued the warrant which targeted the servers located in an Equinix datacenter. As the case continued to build against Megaupload, Kim Dotcom and his associates, the U.S. government asked Canadian authorities to hand the hardware over, claiming that an internal Megaupload email revealed them to be “database / number crunching machines.”

With the servers in the possession of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, during January 2013 the Minister of Justice applied for an order for the servers to be sent to the United States. Megaupload protested on the basis that the servers contain a lot of information irrelevant to the case, but agreed that an independent forensic examiner could examine them before any handover.

An Ontario court sided with Megaupload and refused to send the servers’ data to the United States. In 2015, both sides were ordered to find a way to filter out irrelevant content, perhaps with the aid of a “clean team” of FBI investigators who had no connection with the case.

While this path was approved by a judge, both Megaupload and Equinix objected to the proposal, complaining that the FBI shouldn’t be involved at all and any examination should be carried out independently. In common with almost every decision in various Megaupload cases, this one also went to appeal.

The Ontario Court of Appeal handed down its decision on Friday, this time in favor of Megaupload.

“The judge had to decide what material, if any, should be ordered sent to the United States. The appellant and the American investigators, the FBI, stood in a strongly adversarial position with respect to the order that should be made,” the Court of Appeal wrote in its decision.

“The judge, because of the nature of the seized material, needed help in determining what order should be made. The judge needed someone who could prepare a report outlining the nature of the material so that the judge could decide what part of the material, if any, should be sent to the United States.”

Noting that the report would “significantly influence” the nature and scope of any order made by the judge, the appeal court said that while the FBI may indeed carry out their task as asked, having them involved at all would be entirely inappropriate.

“In my view, it is offensive to the appearance of fairness, and specifically the appearance of judicial impartiality, to have an entity closely associated with one of the adversaries provide the judge with the necessary report,” the decision reads.

“In coming to that conclusion, I make no assumption that the FBI ‘clean team’ would not comply with whatever conditions the court imposed. My concern is with the appearance of fairness and impartiality.”

The appeal court said that when a judge is asked to appoint an investigator, the starting point should always be with people unconnected with the case. Consideration should also be given to the issue of costs (the FBI option in the Megaupload case was cheaper) but they would have to be prohibitively excessive to chose an affiliated entity over an independent party.

With the earlier decision now overruled, the servers will continue to gather dust in the hands of the RCMP, where they have been since their seizure in 2012. No doubt the legal wrangling will continue, as it has done in the United States concerning the servers there.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Court: Megaupload’s Failing Drives Can Be Fixed, But Not Accessed

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-megauploads-failing-drives-can-be-fixed-but-not-accessed-170330/

After Megaupload was shut down more than five years ago, data from hundreds of the site’s servers were put in storage by several hosting facilities, Cogent included.

While the original machines are no longer intact, the company has backed up all data which it will keep in storage pending the various lawsuits against Megaupload and its former employees.

However, as time has dragged on, the condition of the hard drives has significantly deteriorated. Last year, Cogent first warned that sixteen of them have actually become unreadable.

Over the past months the MPAA, RIAA and Megaupload have worked on a mutual agreement to secure the data. This is important because of the pending civil and criminal lawsuits, where the information could be used as vital evidence.

Earlier this month the MPAA and RIAA submitted nearly identical filings, asking the court for a preservation order. The rightsholder groups informed the court that they had reached an agreement with Megaupload on “nearly all” terms of the restoration and backup process, to be carried out by the independent forensics company DriveSavers.

A few days ago Megaupload replied that they indeed agree to the backup and preservation procedure. However, the order proposed by the rightsholders would also prevent Megaupload from accessing its data afterward, which they see as a violation of their constitutional rights.

Megaupload, therefore, submitted a revised version of the preservation order specifying that it can access the data, but for litigation purposes only. If the MPAA or RIAA disagree, they can then share their concerns with the court on a case by case basis.

After hearing both arguments, District Court Judge Liam O’grady chose to side with the rightsholders, siging their version of the preservation order (pdf).

This means that after months of negotiating the failing drives can finally be repaired and preserved. However, when that process is complete no party will be able to access the files, Megaupload included.

“Once the drives and devices have been returned to Cogent’s custody and stored in Cogent’s facility, no person […] shall have access to those drives and devices, or to the data contained on those drives and devices, absent further order from this Court,” the order reads.

The data, and thus the evidence, can only be accessed with permission from the court. While the MPAA and RIAA will be pleased with the ruling, Megaupload is not.

“We are disappointed that the court is still preventing Megaupload from accessing its own server data to independently preserve and use in its own defense,” Megaupload’s counsel Ira Rothken tells TorrentFreak.

The good news, for Megaupload, is that they don’t have to pay for the data preservation. The MPAA and RIAA both agreed to share the cost associated with it and will pick up the full tab.

“We are pleased that the parties that contributed to the Megaupload data loss, by objecting in 2012 to Megaupload’s efforts to access and preserve its own data, are now paying for its recovery,” Megaupload’s counsel says.

“We are also pleased that the Court approved DriveSavers, a world class data recovery firm, as the vendor to handle data restoration,” Rothken adds.

As things stand now it could take years before a trial gets underway, so this is likely not the last time we hear about the data issue. In this regard, Megaupload is also disappointed in the US Government.

The authorities previously prevented the file-hosting service from accessing the files that are hosted at Carpathia. The US Government made backups of the data it wants to use as evidence, but repeatedly prevented Megaupload from doing the same.

“The US after bringing the largest criminal copyright in history is dead set on making sure that Megaupload and the other defendants cannot have access to the evidence they need to defend themselves,” Rothken tells us.

All in all, Megaupload’s counsel is still concerned that Kim Dotcom and the other defendants will not get a fair trial in the United States.

Rothken worries that other data, including the files stored at Carpathia, could become unreadable as well in the future, noting that this could have been prevented if they were allowed preserve it themselves in 2012.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.