Kim Dotcom’s Extradition Hearing Postponed Until March 2013

In this Feb. 22, 2012 file photo, Kim Dotcom, the founder of the file-sharing website Megaupload, comments after he was granted bail and released in Auckland, New Zealand. The U.S. wants to extradite Dotcom from New Zealand, but his extradition hearing won’t be held until March 2013, 13 months after he was arrested. AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Brett Phibbs, File

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — The United States’ court case against Megaupload founders Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk for alleged copyright infringement was dealt another setback Tuesday, after the New Zealand extradition hearing for the four was moved to March 2013.

Originally, the hearing was scheduled for August 6 this year, about six months after Dotcom’s home was raided in January, but a series of legal complications have pushed that date forward.

These include a High Court judge invalidating the warrants for seizing Dotcom’s property and funds — thus making the armed raid at dawn illegal. The judge also declared that the FBI shipping cloned hard drive images taken at the raid was unlawful, thanks to the warrants used being too broad and general.

Dotcom and his associates, who are now free on bail, face extradition to the United States, after being accused of conspiring to commit large-scale copyright infringement to the tune of $500 million. If convicted, they face 20-year prison sentences and million-dollar fines.

All the accused deny they were part of a conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, saying that Megaupload was a legitimate site for sharing files and that they complied with U.S. companies’ takedown notices, despite being a foreign corporation.

Kim Dotcom didn’t respond to Wired’s request for comment on the postponed extradition hearing, but on Twitter, accused the United States of “dirty delay tactics.”

Dotcom also railed against New Zealand Prime Minister John Key for refusing him due process and a fair defence, as he is entitled to as a permanent resident of the South Pacific nation.”>“.

Dotcom also railed against New Zealand Prime Minister John Key for refusing him due process and a fair defence, as he is entitled to as a permanent resident of the South Pacific nation.
In an earlier interview with Wired.com, Megaupload’s U.S. lawyer Ira Rothken says he expects the extradition hearing to take place no matter what happens as the legal process in Virginia and New Zealand grinds on.

“Dotcom is looking forward to his day in court, to present his side of the story,” Rothken says.

A hearing in the Federal Court of Virginia before Justice O’Grady is up next in the Megaupload legal saga.

Rothken has filed motions to vacate the orders that led to the seizure of Megaupload’s domain names and servers and says he is optimistic that O’Grady will do so.

He also expects O’Grady to order a hearing around the return of legitimate data belonging to Megaupload users. The users’ data was swept up in the confiscation of Megaupload’s assets by the US authorities, which have since then refused to return it to users.

According Rothken, the data people can’t get back include business files in Microsoft Word format, as well as family photographs.

Rothken also slams the U.S. prosecution, calling it “experimental”.

“This is the first time in U.S. history that a cloud storage company has been prosecuted for secondary copyright infringement,” Rothken says.

According to Rothken, twenty-five lawyers around the world – United States, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the Netherlands – are working on the Megaupload defense.

They are patient, Rothken says, but none have been paid yet. Rothken has applied for seized funds to be released soon to pay for Dotcom and Megaupload’s legal bills.

Porn Studios Accused of Screwing Their Fans in BitTorrent Lawsuits

Photo: s-falkow/Flickr

A handful of pornography producers are being accused of racketeering, fraud, defamation and other charges in connection to their BitTorrent online litigation trolling strategies.

The program is simple: They sue IP addresses in court — addresses detected to have allegedly and unlawfully downloaded copyrighted pornography without permission. Often, judges in these cases order internet service providers to cough up the identities of the account holders of the ISP — and the shakedown begins, according to the Kentucky federal court suit (.pdf), which seeks class-action status.

The companies have no intention of litigating, but instead demand settlements from $1,000 to $5,000, and many people settle due to the fear of embarrassment over being accused of downloading pornography. Moreover, under the U.S. Copyright Act, defendants face up to $150,000 in fines for a single copyright violation.

The suit comes a week after a federal judge declared a BitTorrent lawsuit brought by Malibu Media “an extortion scheme.”

We’ve written about the scams repeatedly, and a year ago we were aware of 130,000 IP addresses targeted.

In contrast to the Recording Industry Association of America’s much-criticized and now-abandoned litigation war against music pirates — which targeted 20,000 downloaders in six years — the movie lawsuits appear to have been designed from the start as a for-profit endeavor, not as a deterrent to piracy.

“The pornography purveyors know that this amount of money is less than the cost of defense would be if suit were filed. They also know that individuals such as the plaintiff in this matter are embarrassed to have their names associated with pornography, and therefore, are susceptible to being shaken down,” according to the suit, which claims it could represent as many as 200,000 people.

“In fact, if the individuals could be proven to have downloaded the pornography unlawfully from the internet, the pornography purveyors could collect civil statutory damages of $150,000 for a willful infringement such as they allege, yet they settle for $1,000-$5,000.”

The RIAA was hit with a similar lawsuit years ago, but that eventually fizzled.

Lory Lybeck, a Washington state attorney not connected to the Kentucky class action, said he is defending hundreds of clients accused of downloading porn. “There’s a slime element associated with the porn cases, which makes it much more apparent than the music cases that there is an extortionist element to this,” he said in a telephone interview.

The case targeting the porn studios was brought on behalf of a Kentucky woman named Jennifer Barker. A representative of Intellectual Property Protection, which works for the porn companies named in the suit, allegedly called her at home and at work seeking a settlement for allegedly downloading X-Art videos produced by Malibu Media, the suit said. She claims she is innocent.

The company, the suit said, “demanded that Ms. Barker pay money to settle the lawsuit or she would be identified publicly as having downloaded pornography and would be subject to hundreds of thousands of dollars as a judgement if the suit went forward because there were multiple downloads.”

Malibu Media did not respond for comment. Third Degree Films and Patrick Collins Inc. declined comment. Raw Films was not immediately reached.

Anonymous Group Says It Gave Syrian E-mails to WikiLeaks

Days after WikiLeaks began releasing a trove of more than 2 million e-mails stolen from Syrian officials, ministries and companies, members of an Anonymous group have claimed responsibility for the hacks and document dump to Wikileaks.

In a press release published Saturday, a group calling itself Anonymous Op Syria disclosed that its members hacked into multiple domains and dozens of servers inside Syria on Feb. 5 to obtain the e-mails, which it then gave to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks began publishing the e-mails on July 5, working with several media partners outside the United States, but didn’t disclose its partnership with Anonymous.

In its intro to the e-mail cache, WikiLeaks indicated that they came from 678,000 individual e-mail addresses and 680 domains, including ones belonging to Syria’s Ministries of Presidential Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Information, Transport and Culture. At least 400,000 of the e-mails are in Arabic and 68,000 are in Russian.

The documents range from “the intimate correspondence of the most senior Baath party figures to records of financial transfers sent from Syrian ministries to other nations,” according to WikiLeaks.

The Anonymous team, composed of members of three groups known as Anonymous Syria, AntiSec, and the Peoples Liberation Front, says it had been assisting activists in Syria since protests began against the Syrian regime more than a year ago, and that the team worked round-the-clock shifts to hack the servers.

“So large was the data available to be taken, and so great was the danger of detection (especially for the members of Anonymous Syria, many of whom are ‘in country’) that the downloading of this data took several additional weeks,” says the group in its statement.

Last March, the group hinted at the treasure it possessed when it leaked about 3,000 e-mails from the personal e-mail account of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma to the Guardian newspaper in London.

Leaking the entire trove of e-mails, however, proved to be more difficult.

“We gave Syrian mails to Wikileaks after trying unsuccessfully to make a deal with Al Jazeera English,” a member of the group told Wired in an instant message exchange. “We like the Wikileaks concept, and they do a good job of releasing these kinds of things. We successfully released Stratfor together previously, and both learned from our mistakes there.”

Last December, Anonymous hacked into servers belonging to the U.S.-based security firm Stratfor and stole about 5 million e-mails, which the group gave to WikiLeaks. The e-mails were published in February.

The Anonymous member wouldn’t elaborate to Wired on the nature of the mistakes that Anonymous and WikiLeaks had learned from their previous partnership, but added that this time around, the team also gave copies of the Syrian e-mails to the Associated Press news agency, based in the United States.

“We gave a copy to the AP too, for the lulz,” the Anonymous member said.

The group noted in their public statement that there will be “many more disclosures of this type in the future as this wonderful partnership between WikiLeaks and Anonymous continues to grow stronger and change human history.”

So far, only a few dozen e-mails have been published from the cache.

In its intro to the e-mail cache, WikiLeaks boasted that they will “shine a light on the inner workings of the Syrian government and economy” and “reveal how the West and Western companies say one thing and do another.”

But to date, only one item of news value has been uncovered in the published e-mails, according to Forbes. This regards information that an Italian firm Finmeccania offered a communications system to the Syrian and Iranian governments, which the Italian and Spanish newspapers L’Espresso and Publico published in their coverage of the e-mails.

Android Malware App Covertly Makes Purchases On China Mobile Market

There seems to be a trend towards malware on the Android platform that extorts money from the user somehow, either through premium SMS or services – or the latest trojan – which covertly purchases apps from the mobile market. We first wrote about Android Antivirus software from Symantec back in 2010 and it seems like [...]

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