Judge rules that the warrants issued against Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (yep, legal name) were invalid because they were too vague, after most everything seized has already been returned in previous rulings. Also, therefore, the evidence collected was invalid and was improperly released to be sent out of the country. Nothing on their hard drives can be used, which is pretty much the only thing they’ve got.
Looks like Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder may get his wish that Kim Dotcom wins his case.
New Zealand High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann ruled Thursday that the warrants did not adequately describe the offenses alleged, according to a report in the New Zealand Herald. “Indeed they fell well short of that,” she said. “They were general warrants, and as such, are invalid.”
She also ruled that it was unlawful for the data confiscated in the raid to have been sent offshore, saying “the release of the cloned hard drives to the FBI for shipping to the United States was contrary to the 16 February direction” [given by the court] “that the items seized were to remain in the custody and control of the Commissioner of Police.”
MegaUpload is a cloud-storage locker that DotCom claims was completely legitimate and protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. U.S. officials, who are trying to extradite Dotcom and six associates to face piracy and wire fraud charges, say he encouraged users to store pirated videos, music, software, and other media and then share them with others. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Except, uh, not. Ever since the raid, the US government has consistently been losing in New Zealand courts, where MegaUpload is based. They’ve had to free Kim Dotcom, had to return some of his assets, and, most embarrassingly, had to actually fork over the evidence they have that he was breaking the law. It’s rapidly become clear that the FBI and the Department of Justice did not do any research into where American and New Zealand laws intersect and where there might be issues.
And now the case is essentially dead…
New Zealand High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann ruled Thursday that the warrants did not adequately describe the offenses alleged… “Indeed they fell well short of that,” she said. “They were general warrants, and as such, are invalid.” She also ruled that it was unlawful for the data confiscated in the raid to have been sent offshore.”
Roughly translated, this means the United States can’t use anything it found on those hard drives, if it did happen to find anything, because it’s illegally confiscated. This is a wee bit of a problem because their entire case is likely built on what they found in those drives.
In short, the entire case has collapsed. The US government walks away with a black eye, the labels walk away with an object lesson that you can’t game the system, and hopefully MegaUpload users get their data back.
- New Zealand’s high court rules raid on Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom was illegal and search warrants were unlawful – @RT_com (rt.com)
- Judge rules Kim Dotcom warrants invalid (cbsnews.com)
- MegaUpload founder’s extradition hearing delayed to 2013 (neowin.net)
- Oops – police searches at MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom’s house were illegal, judge says (venturebeat.com)
- NZ’s piracy ruling ’embarrasses’ FBI (smh.com.au)
- FBI ordered to turn over MegaUpload evidence (rawstory.com)