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Kim Dotcom: What’s going on?

Kim Dotcom: What’s going on?

The Kim Dotcom case has highlighted the need for New Zealand to review its extradition laws and improve aspects of its policing.

Meanwhile, as he fights extradition to the United States, Dotcom has made several generous gestures to win the support of the New Zealand public.

Waikato University law professor Neil Boister, an international law specialist, has read the 90-page indictment and says he thinks the case is evenly balanced in legal terms.

The Dotcom case will be the subject of his Inaugural Professorial Lecture, taking place at Waikato University on July 23.

“I chose my lecture topic a long time ago, thinking the Dotcom case would be all wrapped up by now,” he says. “It’s fascinating on many levels – how far the US and other western countries will go to maximise the protection of intellectual property, the complexity of police co-operation across borders, the man’s careful play to win over the public’s hearts and minds, and speculation on how the courts here in New Zealand will deal with him.”

In January 2012, the New Zealand Police seized Dotcom’s assets and placed him in custody in response to US charges of criminal copyright infringement in relation to his Megaupload website. Later, the police raid was deemed illegal and the courts ordered return of some of his property.

However, the courts cannot legally enforce a demand for the return of copies of his computer files already sent to the US, and he has, after early victories thus far, lost his bid to have all the evidence against him disclosed for the purposes of the extradition hearing (which has been delayed). Kim Dotcom has subsequently set up “Mega” a cloud storage service that uses encryption to protect users from government or third party "spies" from invading users' privacy.

“The case shows how fiercely the US and other Western countries have begun to fight to maximise protection of their citizen’s intellectual property from abuse on the Internet, that they are calling on their allies for help, but it also shows how difficult it is to carry out successful police co-operation across borders,” says Professor Boister.

He says the fall-out from the case should hopefully see a change in approach to police procedure in New Zealand when cooperating with other states and the process of the litigation should produce a complete review by the judiciary of the working of some of the special procedures in the 1999 Extradition Act.

University of Waikato Inaugural Professorial Lectures introduce our newest professors to the community. All lectures are free and open to the public. Professor Boister’s lecture is at 6pm at the University of Waikato’s Academy of Performing Arts on Tuesday 23 July.

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