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US Government denies Megaupload fair legal representation for a fourth time

By Leeky ยท 49 replies
Apr 17, 2012
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  1. It quickly became obvious with the raids on Megaupload and its founder Kim Dotcom in January that US authorities were taking a no-nonsense approach to the file-sharing service, in what...

    Read the whole story
  2. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,839   +1,183

  3. And Another US "Rip-Off" its on the way
  4. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,839   +1,183

    Awesome... it says above they have no money for legal expenses and in the other story it says..

    "The indictment goes after six individuals, who between them owned 14 Mercedes-Benz automobiles with license plates such as "POLICE," "MAFIA," "V," "STONED," "CEO," "HACKER," GOOD," "EVIL," and?perhaps presciently?"GUILTY." The group also had a 2010 Maserati, a 2008 Rolls-Royce, and a 1989 Lamborghini. They had not one but three Samsung 83" TVs, and two Sharp 108" TVs. Someone owned a "Predator statue." Motor bikes, jet skis, artwork, and even 60 Dell servers could all be forfeit to the government if it can prove its case against the members of the "Mega Conspiracy."
  5. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,169   +3,261

    With the government acting so strangely, it seems they are the biggest conflict of interest.

    How could you hold a trial, when everyone could be a conflict of interest?
  6. Jos

    Jos TechSpot Staff Posts: 3,073   +97

    @MilwukeeMike All of those assets were seized back in January. He still gets a hefty $60,000 monthly allowance, although whether that is enough to hire expert copyright lawyers it's unclear to me.

    In any case, the article does not suggest MegaUpload is innocent in any way, only that they have the right to a fair trial under U.S. laws.
  7. example1013

    example1013 TS Enthusiast Posts: 265

    @Jos so what you're saying is, you're no expert, you have no clue whether the government has a legitimate claim, and at the very least, the title is extremely misleading.
  8. captainawesome

    captainawesome TS Guru Posts: 428   +44

    You have to ask why the prosecution is being so silly. Their attempts to stop Kim from using adequate legal representation could be the very grounds that this case is won for the 'defense'.

    If they continue with this the court will have to intervene and might even throw the case out! I don't know if any other lawyers on this forum will disagree? I after all didn't study american law but I know the SA constitution will not allow this!
  9. Jos

    Jos TechSpot Staff Posts: 3,073   +97

    @example1013 No, try again.

    The government may have a legitimate claim and MegaUpload may or may have not built their entire business around piracy. My reply was specifically in response to MilwaukeeMike's accusation of bias. Therefore I said the article does not suggest MegaUpload is innocent in any way, only that they have the right to a fair trial.
  10. Vrmithrax

    Vrmithrax TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,333   +280

    The government has refused Megaupload's selection of legal counsel. Again. For the fourth time. All of that is well-documented and reported fact. So, in what twisted universe do you live in that the title is anything but accurately representing the facts?
  11. captainawesome

    captainawesome TS Guru Posts: 428   +44

    I too do not think that the title is misleading.
  12. example1013

    example1013 TS Enthusiast Posts: 265

    @Jos I apologize, I shouldn't have directed my comment towards you, as I was commenting on the article itself, not your specific post. And since you're not the author, it really isn't fair to say something like that.
  13. lawfer

    lawfer TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,270   +91

    Excuse me for a second, but isn't denying a defendant the right to legal counsel, um, I don't know, a violation of both Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution?
  14. veLa

    veLa TS Evangelist Posts: 757   +213

    Forget the government. Saying people need the government to survive is like saying animals need farms to survive.

    edit by LNCPapa - vulgarity
  15. Lawfer's reply is why the title is misleading. They are not being denied the right to legal counsel, they are being denied the ability to *pay* for legal counsel. That's a huge difference and worse, it's a larger travesty. The government's stance is essentially that Megaupload shouldn't be able to use funds earned through illicit means, but haven't yet proven that the funds are, in fact, illicit. It's not a right to legal counsel issue, it's an innocent until proven guilty issue.
  16. Darkshadoe

    Darkshadoe TS Guru Posts: 571   +112

    Yeah..Forget the Government!! Forget them Hard!!
  17. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 3,797   +116

    Oh, I see. So accusing me of it is okay instead then is it?

    There is nothing misleading about the title at all. Considering the facts between both the Government and those "trying" to gain permission to represent Megaupload draws that conclusion.

    I've even included the links to the full copies of both parties filed court papers as a means for those to verify them.
    Marnomancer likes this.
  18. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,839   +1,183

    @Jos @lawfer @Guest

    From the story...
    The govt refused to free up seized money because it was needed to pay for the servers that contain all of the files Megaupload holds. It was NOT going to be used for legal representation. Megaupload wants to buy back all the data that was seized.

    The reason the Quinn Emanuel lawyers aren't being allowed to represent Megaupload is because much of the stolen content on Megauploads servers belongs to YouTube. And YouTube is a client of Quinn Emanuel. The Govt plans on using witnesses from YouTube and it would be a conflict of interest for the Govt witnesses to be clients of the defense's law firm.

    Facts came from CNET. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57...ce-megaupload-lawyers-on-issue-of-user-data/\
  19. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,839   +1,183

    The twisted universe that believes the owners of the content that Megaupload stole also deserve a fair trial.

    This guy made millions and lived a life of luxury from running what's described as the biggest piracy site in the world. And above me is a whole list of people defending him because the title says he's being denied a fair trial. He's not being denied a fair trial, he's trying to scam his way into an unfair one.

    It would be like saying 'Chevy Volt catches fire again, claims three lives' without mentioning that the guy was driving 90mph drunk and hit a tree.
  20. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,314   +258

    I sense sarcasm in your post Dark. But veLa is right. Government is not needed to our survival, why would it. Instead its rather a failure more then anything.
  21. lawfer

    lawfer TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,270   +91

    Lawyers cost money.

    When the government shut down Megaupload's servers and arrested its top officials, it also froze the assets of Megaupload and its founder, Kim Dotcom. Lawyers generally don't work for free, so Megaupload needs some of its assets unfrozen to cover its legal costs.

    But the government not only objects to releasing funds for Megaupload's defense, it argues it's such a clear case that Quinn Emanuel lawyers shouldn't even get the opportunity to make their argument to the judge.

    The New Zealand courts have authorized Kim Dotcom to withdraw tens of thousands of dollars to cover his living expenses while they decide on his extradition case. The US government argues that these funds give Kim Dotcom and Megaupload plenty of money to pay for legal representation.

    "It will be a high hurdle to prove that an individual with a monthly income of $48,000 USD for at least the next seven and a half months, and a monthly income of at least $16,000 USD thereafter, is prevented from retaining competent defense counsel?even if such funds prove insufficient to pay Quinn Emanuel's billing rates," the government argues in its brief.

    But as Quinn Emanuel points out in its reply, the New Zealand court specifically earmarked the money for living expenses, not legal fees. More importantly, Megaupload is a legally distinct entity from Dotcom, and it has no funds with which to pay its legal bills. Also, while $16,000 per month might be plenty of money for a typical criminal trial, this is not a typical case. Megaupload's defense is likely to require computer forensics, expert witnesses, and attorneys with in-depth copyright expertise. Those don't come cheap.

    No copyright lawyers?

    The government also objects to the selection of Quinn Emanuel due to conflict-of-interest problems. The firm has extensive experience handling copyright cases, and its past clients include Disney, Paramount, Time Warner, Fox, and Intuit. All of these firms have allegedly had their products illegally distributed on Megaupload. Quinn Emanuel has also counted YouTube as a client, and Megaupload is alleged to have illegally scraped YouTube movies for posting on Megaupload. The government said it planned to call Google--another Quinn Emanuel client--as a witness because Google once cut Megaupload off from using its AdSense advertising network due to copyright concerns.

    The government describes all of these companies as victims of Megaupload, and suggests that Quinn Emanuel can't fairly represent Megaupload given its ties to them. "It would be inappropriate to permit Defense Counsel to enter even a limited appearance without first fully investigating and resolving these potential conflicts," the government argues.

    In its reply, Quinn Emanuel points out this broad interpretation of conflict-of-interest rules would prevent Megaupload from retaining almost any law firm with experience in copyright matters. After all, firms that specialize in copyright law regularly accept major content companies as clients, and Megaupload's servers likely contain content from the majority of those firms. So the government's broad interpretation of the conflict of interest rules would effectively mean that Megaupload can't have a lawyer with experience litigating copyright cases.

    In any event, conflict-of-interest rules are supposed to protect Megaupload. Quinn Emanuel says Dotcom and Megaupload are willing to have Quinn Emanuel represent them despite these supposed conflicts.

    "Empty promises"

    The government raises several other objections. It argues that because Dotcom is fighting extradition, he is a "fugitive from justice" and not entitled to be represented in US courts until the extradition fight is over. And the government complains that it would be too confusing to have to deal simultaneously with two different Dotcom legal teams?one in the United States and the other in New Zealand.

    TL ; DR

    The title is fine.

    P.S. I would recommend reading Ars when it comes to legal stuff, not CNET.
    Leeky likes this.
  22. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    It seems to me that if the law firm is ok with taking on the case, then the government's excuse for keeping them from taking the case is moot.

    Government is saying the law firm handles companies that have files on megaupload's servers and its a conflict of interest. The law firm says 'thats ok, we'll still represent them'. If Kim Dotcom still wants to hire that law firm, and the law firm wants the case, then whats the prob?
  23. Darkshadoe

    Darkshadoe TS Guru Posts: 571   +112

    Actually I was just poking fun at the vulgarity correction :p
  24. Actually, considering that they are also barring every legal council Megaupload has attempted to correspond with on grounds of 'conflict of interest', they are indeed preventing them fair legal council, not just the ability to pay for it...
  25. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,314   +258

    Oh I see, I see! :p

    Also PS:

    Loving the alert system, going to try and find one for my phpBB forum :3

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