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OFF BEAT: Kim Dotcom's Megaupload up against U.S. court system

April 10, 2014 - 4:18pm


Hollywood titans go up against Internet giant Megaupload in an epic copyright battle in the U.S. courts.

Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros. — some or even most of the biggest names and players in Movie Land — have filed suit against Kim Dotcom, whose Megaupload file-sharing website at one time boasted 180 million users.

Kim Dotcom's larger-than-life reputation — lavish parties, chartered yachts and what is said to be the largest private home in New Zealand — seems matched almost only by his real stature: At 6 feet 7 inches, he is an imposing figure with an epic story.

All of this pomp and circumstance, however, may not be enough to save him from the mundane machinations of the U.S. court system and charges of copyright infringement filed by the studios in a Virginia federal court alleging that “defendants intentionally infringed plaintiffs' copyrighted motion picture and television programs on a massive scale and for a substantial profit” on a daily basis.

Dotcom has always maintained that Megaupload was simply in the data storage business, allowing users to up- and download content of their own choosing, which could occasionally include “potentially infringing material.”

But the studios weren’t buying. “Contrary to some of defendants’ public assertions, Megaupload was not designed to be a private data storage provider … but rather as a hub for uploading and downloading infringing copies of popular movies and television shows, including plaintiffs’ copyrighted works,” they shot back in their complaint.

The lawsuit, filed April 7, however, may take a back seat to the disposition of U.S. federal criminal charges of copyright infringement and racketeering filed after the January 2012 raid that shut down Megaupload.

The whole story would probably make a great movie, but deciding who owns it could be the greatest challenge yet. Only in Hollywood.

 



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