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New Zealand high court denies US appeal to limit evidence disclosure in copyright case

The Supreme Court of New Zealand [official website] declined [judgment, PDF] Wednesday to overturn a lower court decision holding that US authorities must turn over a large amount of evidence in order to secure the extradition of Megaupload.com founder Kim Dotcom, who is accused of orchestrating the largest copyright infringement in the country's history. Justice Helen Winkelmann rejected the US appeal to limit the amount of information requested, which the US claims is unprecedented in quantity [Bloomberg report] anywhere for extradition cases, and includes all records connected to covert operations undertaken by agents involved in the investigation. Dotcom, 38, was indicted in the US on charges that his file-sharing service has generated more than $175 million in criminal proceeds from the exchange of pirated film, music, book and software files. The US is currently seeking extradition from New Zealand for a trial in Virginia. Dotcom faces as long as 20 years in prison for each of the racketeering and money-laundering charges in the indictment.

Internet media piracy is a global issue. Last month the European Parliament [official website] overwhelmingly voted to reject [press release] the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) [text, PDF], which is designed to curb intellectual property theft such as production of counterfeit goods and medicine, as well as digital file-sharing of pirated media. The International Trade Committee (INTA) [official website] of the European Parliament rejected the ACTA [JURIST report] in June after concluding that its vague language and disproportional fines could infringe upon individuals' right to free expression. In February the European Commission announced [JURIST report] that it would seek guidance from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) before ratifying the ACTA to ease protesters' concerns with the ACTA's possible censorship of free expression. Hearings on a similar bill in the US were postponed [JURIST report] in January by Representative Darrell Issa [official website] of California. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) [text, PDF] would have effectively blocked foreign websites that are suspected to infringe copyrights and give the US Department of Justice (DOJ) increased authority in counterfeiting copyright infringement.

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