19 Feb 2012

More charges laid against Megaupload accused

6:21 am on 19 February 2012

New charges have been laid against the seven individuals charged in the Megaupload internet piracy case.

The founder of the website, Kim Dotcom, and his co-accused Bram van der Kolk, Mathias Ortmann and Finn Batato were arrested in Auckland in January.

They and three others, who are not in New Zealand, already face charges relating to internet piracy offences.

The US Department of Justice has now added new charges of criminal copyright infringement and wire fraud.

Among them are allegations the individuals, and two companies they run, Megaupload.com and Megavideo.com, reproduced copyrighted works directly from third-party websites, such as YouTube.com

The indictment says the websites created the impression they hosted content uploaded by users, rather than copyright-infringing content.

It says records show that 90% of users only downloaded content, and the websites actually had just over a third of the registered users they claimed to have.

Kim Dotcom is still being held in custody pending an extradition hearing, although the three other accused arrested in Auckland are on bail.

Their lawyer, Guyon Foley, does not expect the new charges will change their bail conditions.

The men are to appear again in the North Shore District Court on Wednesday.

The appearance is expected to indicate what progress the United States government has made in seeking their extradition.

US authorities have until 5 March to file extradition papers.

Megaupload was indicted in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, USA, on 19 January and the site was then shut down.