Kim Dotcom appears to be back to his old tricks once again. The alleged media pirate kingpin and founder of digital filesharing site Megaupload is once again challenging U.S. jurisdiction over his finances. To set the stage, recall that Dotcom is being sued by Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Universal and Warner Brothers are suing Dotcom for US$100 million over alleged copyright infringement.
In addition to the civil charges, Kim Dotcom is currently facing U.S. criminal charges ranging from tax evasion to money laundering. The current dispute is over Dotcom’s frozen assets is taking place in New Zealand, where the Megaupload mogul sits awaiting extradition to the U.S. in his country mansion.
The larger picture raised by the Kim Dotcom case is the difficulty of pursuing legal actions, particularly in the civil context. In this case, we actually know who the defendant is and where he currently resides. That’s often the exception. In many piracy cases, it’s exceedingly difficult to track down who an offending site belongs to, much less where the alleged perpetrators can actually be found. Servers are frequently routed around the world, and quickly disappear into the Wild West of Eastern Europe where it’s difficult o track anything down.
For Kim Dotcom latest dispute is over a New Zealand high court ruling that Dotcom must file an affidavit revealing and detailing his financial assets worldwide. The plaintiffs in the copyright suit are concerned that the existing restraining order has not stopped Kim Dotcom from spending lavishly. The case is complex on jurisdictional grounds as the plaintiffs in a U.S. suit have petitioned a New Zealand court to rule against a plaintiff who has not submitted to U.S. jurisdiction.
There is certainly evidence that authorities have not reached all of Kim Dotcom’s assets. A case in point is Kim Dotcom’s funding of New Zealand’s failed Internet Party. It’s difficult to tell, from this vantage point, whether the quixotic founding and funding of the Internet Party was meant to be a true political statement, a prank or an opportunity to continue to party on a lavish scale (or some combination of all three). Kim Dotcom’s lawyers asserted that the plaintiffs were merely on a fishing expedition.