Supreme Court Won't Review US Government Getting To Steal All Of Kim Dotcom's Stuff

from the that's-unfortunate dept

While the "main event" in the never-ending case of the US Justice Department against Kim Dotcom continues to grind its way ever so slowly through the wheels of justice, one element has basically concluded. And this was the part that should concern you even if you think that Kim Dotcom was completely guilty of criminal copyright infringement. The issue here is that as part of the arrest of Dotcom and his colleagues, the US "seized" many of his assets. Now, when the government seizes assets, it's a temporary thing. They have a certain period of time to hold onto it. Afterwards, they either need to give those assets back or file a separate case to attempt to "forfeit" those items (i.e., keep them forever). Here's where things get a little bizarre. Because Dotcom was fighting extradition in New Zealand, the "deadline" for the US to continue holding the seized assets was approaching -- so they filed the separate case against his stuff. Because it's a civil asset forfeiture case, the case is literally against his stuff, and not against Kim Dotcom (and, yes, this is as weird and nonsensical as it sounds). But there was a twist: because Dotcom was still in New Zealand, the Justice Department said that he was a "fugitive" and thus couldn't even protest the forfeiture of his stuff. Unfortunately, both the district court and the appeals court agreed.

Again, let's be totally clear here -- because sometimes people get so focused on their belief that because Megaupload enabled copyright infringement that this is somehow okay. But here we have a situation where before anyone has been found guilty of anything, the US government was given permission to take and keep all of Kim Dotcom's stuff. This should concern you even if you think Dotcom deserves to rot in prison, because there's a clear absence of due process here. If Dotcom is eventually found to be not guilty -- that won't have any impact on this. The US government still gets to keep his stuff (or, well, whatever it can get its hands on).

So the issue here is not whether or not Kim Dotcom is guilty of copyright infringement. It's whether or not the US government can just take his stuff before that other process has played out. That's a problem.

And, unfortunately, it's a problem that the Supreme Court will not be reviewing at this time. Even as some of the Justices have expressed concerns about civil asset forfeiture, apparently they didn't want to take on this particular case. And, maybe that's okay, because maybe, as with many people, they wouldn't have been able to separate out the copyright question from the civil asset forfeiture question from the fugitive disentitlement question -- all of which are separate but important.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 3 Oct 2017 @ 1:57am

    Exercise your rights? Oh that's going to cost you

    So the DoJ steals his stuff, tries to hold it over his head by requiring him to forgo his right to fight extradition if he wants to try to get it back, the courts buy the DoJ's argument in it's entirety, and the supreme court decides that it's not interested in even considering the case.

    Goodbye right to fight extradition.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DiscontentedMajority (profile), 3 Oct 2017 @ 4:44am

      Re: Exercise your rights? Oh that's going to cost you

      If so, this may be a wake up call to the government's of the world which gets them to stop mindlessly cooperating with US extradition efforts.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Eldakka (profile), 3 Oct 2017 @ 5:12pm

        Re: Re: Exercise your rights? Oh that's going to cost you

        I doubt it.

        Most governments of the world will say "hey, that's a cool revenue idea, let's implement it ourselves!"

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 8:07am

      Re: Exercise your rights? Oh that's going to cost you

      obviously the members of the Supreme Court are as bought and paid for by Hollywood and the entertainment industries as the rest of the US judicary system! i wonder which other entity is going to get screwed as badly as Mega, all on the false accusations and lies of those industries? it's pretty obvious as well that there is no such thing in the USA any more of JUSTICE, only the word of whatever industry says it's being harmed by poor little 'Joe Bloggs' down the road being taken as gospel! should be ashamed!!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Oct 2017 @ 12:53pm

      Re: Exercise your rights? Oh that's going to cost you

      To the best of my recollection there is no right under US law for a person in a foreign jurisdiction to challenge extradition from that jurisdiction to the US. That would be a matter of foreign law, and not domestic law.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 3:28am

    The Supremes

    ..."didn't want to take on this particular case."

    Dotards - that is all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    MickJ, 3 Oct 2017 @ 3:46am

    Naked Theft

    So I get lawyers have a duty to fight the case in front of them to the best of their ability etc, but surely there's a point where the Government attorneys have to look at themselves and wonder exactly why they are making it legal for the government to basically blackmail someone into giving up their rights and when that does not work, just steal that persons assets. I mean surely they understand the implications of the the decisions they just won. Are they that pervertedly amoral that they can just shrug and say "I'm just doing my job".
    Any person with even a shred of decency would be wondering to themselves how it came to pass that they are instrumental in perpetuating another authoritarian regime in a world that clearly understand the outright evilness of such regimes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 3 Oct 2017 @ 4:22am

      'They had it coming.'

      Are they that pervertedly amoral that they can just shrug and say "I'm just doing my job".

      I imagine it's a mix between 'just doing the job', and 'if they were really innocent they would have come over, so this is just punishment', such that they either don't care, or brush it aside as a 'just' punishment for a criminal(because the legal system isn't meant to protect criminals after all).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        mhajicek (profile), 3 Oct 2017 @ 7:31am

        Re: 'They had it coming.'

        Combine that with blind Faith that only badguys get accused and tangled up in the judicial system.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        jupiterkansas (profile), 3 Oct 2017 @ 7:41am

        Re: 'They had it coming.'

        This is one case where it seems lots of people just assume he's guilty as sin and don't really care what happens to him as long as he's thoroughly punished.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Stephen, 6 Oct 2017 @ 6:53am

          Re: Re: 'They had it coming.'

          jupiterkansas: "...just assume he's guilty as sin..."

          So the US courts now operates under a presumption of guilt rather than innocence? How in the world did they manage to get there? Whatever happened to due process?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Yes,I know I'm commenting anonymously, 3 Oct 2017 @ 3:52am

    Everyone _outside_ the US should be very concerned about this: the US government can steal stuf abroad with impunity. The US courts must now protect them. (and we already know the US disrespects foreign courts).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      kallethen, 3 Oct 2017 @ 5:18am

      Re:

      With the way civil forfeiture works, even people within the US should be concerned.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 3 Oct 2017 @ 7:42am

      Re:

      Wait until other countries start seizing the assets of Americans.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ShadowNinja (profile), 3 Oct 2017 @ 9:15am

      Re:

      The worst part is there's a bunch of Americans who insist that the bill of rights and those other protections don't apply to non-citizens like Kim DotCom.

      I mean seriously, if you follow their logic then it would be perfectly ok for the US to jail foreigners who criticize the US government, because foreigners don't have the right to free speech in the US!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daydream, 3 Oct 2017 @ 4:45am

    Kim's abided by his bail conditions.

    The last time the subject of Kim Dotcom being labelled a fugitive came up, I commented that he had abided by all of his bail conditions set by the New Zealand courts.
    I wondered if the US labelling him a fugitive regardless meant that they didn't recognise New Zealand's government and its authority to enforce laws.

    In any case, apparently abiding by the law is not enough to prevent you from being treated as a fugitive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 5:13am

      Re: Kim's abided by his bail conditions.

      When the people enforcing the law are allowed to break it and claim ignorance, what do you expect?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anomalous Cowherd, 3 Oct 2017 @ 5:47am

    All that needs to be said

    It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished.
    But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, 'whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,' and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.
    - John Adams

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 6:04am

      Re: All that needs to be said

      These people have no room for this. Like all others, the people they like should be protected with liberty, the people they hate should have their liberty removed.

      Only the Ultra Few actually believe in liberty, the vast majority wished to foist their rule upon the rest and spend the remainder of their time conducting ad hominem attacks on those that seek to remind everyone of the costs of freedom.

      When tragedy strikes there will always be actors ready and willing to use it to move hearts against liberty in vain attempts to trade liberty in for safety. Safety never comes, but we still trade on it nevertheless.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 9:57am

      Re: All that needs to be said

      Yeah, apparently that is no longer taught to today's justice system

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Daydream, 3 Oct 2017 @ 3:03pm

      Re: All that needs to be said

      There's what I was missing! An insightful quote of an insightful quote!

      For context, John Adams said that statement in 1770, when he was speaking as the defender for a group of British soldiers.
      Said soldiers had been charged with murder following the Boston Massacre incident, where they had fired their muskets whilst being threatened by a mob, killing 5 people.
      With John Adam's arguments and testing of the evidence, the jury found only two soldiers guilty, of manslaughter, and that only because they were proven to have fired directly into the crowd; the other six soldiers (and their captain) were all found innocent.

      This particular trial is important because it established the doctrine of reasonable doubt, and the importance of evidence; John Adams directed the jury to find guilt or innocence on the basis of the facts, testimony and evidence, rather than their own beliefs and stereotypes about the British.

      Without these vital standards, the presumption of innocence and value of evidence, we would be living in a much different, far less egalitarian world, where people could use false accusations to take what they want from innocents with impunity.
      We've seen it in the past with witch-hunts, where innocents were killed to take their property, and we're seeing it in the present with drone strikes, where foreign civilians are murdered on unsubstantiated accusations of terrorism, and too many courts are willing to believe claims made by police against even damning evidence.
      People abroad are already being pushed to terrorism to fight back against the U.S. for murdering their friends and family; what happens when Americans at home realise that the law won't protect them?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 6:28am

    There's a bright side

    Maybe he and rapist Julian Assange can share a cell and discuss their experiences sucking off Sean Hannity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 8:26am

      Re: There's a bright side

      [citation(s) needed]

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 9:32am

      Re: There's a bright side

      Maybe you assclown can find the link to read the tweets the victims sent after their alleged rape by Assange. I'm pretty sure you'll feel too embarrassed to come back and post here again.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 3 Oct 2017 @ 6:29am

    Have no fear - it will be reviewed...

    ... as soon as another country does the same thing to an American in a high enough position to "matter".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 7:12am

    Again defending grifter who illegally got millions.

    Millionaire grifter Dotcom and his "biz" have had four years of due process in which his main effort is to avoid appearing. It's not a winning stragety.

    The business and "money", however, is within reach of DOJ. Megaupload declined to appear and contest though given notice. This process would apply to all in same circumstances.

    ---

    (BTW: Testing. Think your "markdown" is borked as yesterday it did boldface text but deleted blank lines where were three dashes for horizontal rules. Of course, that feature may have been removed due to my liking to use.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 7:12am

      Re: Again defending grifter who illegally got millions.

      Anyhoo, here's a tidbit about Dotcom:

      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130321/18271522414/leaked-mpaa-talking-points-copyright-r eform-copyright-is-awesome-everyone.shtml#c374

      In chain of responses started by my comment an AC asserts: "Go ahead, find me a single person who's a millionaire because he's got several terabytes of content stored on a hard disk drive."

      To which a witty AC replies: "Paging Kim Dotcom..."

      To which John Fenderson asserts: "All indications are that he's not actually an example of that."

      SO WHO WAS RIGHT THERE? Me and that AC mentioning Dotcom, of course.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 7:29am

      Re: Again defending grifter who illegally got millions.

      Your attitude to justice would ft in with the old Spanish Inquisition just fine.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 8:32am

      Re: Again defending grifter who illegally got millions.

      And by within reach, your copyright enforcers had to get New Zealand to break their surveillance laws to do it. And you wonder why nobody respects copyright enforcement. Why do I have to give credence to an organization that can break the laws they can arrest me at any time for?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 4 Oct 2017 @ 3:53am

      Re: Again defending grifter who illegally got millions.

      It's amazing how you manage to miss the point even when it's made clear in the article it's not about Dotcom being guilty or not. You are special. As in, mentally handicapped special.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 3 Oct 2017 @ 8:01am

    Well...

    "...so they filed the separate case against his stuff."

    Can people who had stored information that the government has now sue to get it back from them?

    If only his stuff could counter-sue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Oct 2017 @ 8:25am

    The actual question in the air, and it isn't how much of a smuck Kim Dotcom is or isn't

    So the issue here is not whether or not Kim Dotcom is guilty of copyright infringement. It's whether or not the US government can just take his stuff before that other process has played out. That's a problem. And, unfortunately, it's a problem that the Supreme Court will not be reviewing at this time. Even as some of the Justices have expressed concerns about civil asset forfeiture, apparently they didn't want to take on this particular case. And, maybe that's okay, because maybe, as with many people, they wouldn't have been able to separate out the copyright question from the civil asset forfeiture question from the fugitive disentitlement question -- all of which are separate but important.

    I think this is a fair point, which leaves the question what other cases that will address civil asset forfeiture appropriately are in the pipeline?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 8:36am

    Where in our Constitution does someone have the right of extradition?

    Fuck him, he isn't a citizen of the US. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 3 Oct 2017 @ 9:31am

      Re:

      Fuck him, he isn't a citizen of the US. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

      Can you point out which "crime" he's been convicted of?

      I'll wait.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 9:34am

      Re:

      So as a non-citizen of the US you have to give a fuck about its laws?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 12:48pm

      Re:

      By the way I just posted a warrant for your arrest in Vietnam for being an asshole. Fuck you if you can’t do the time..

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ryuugami, 3 Oct 2017 @ 2:34pm

      Re:

      Where in our Constitution does someone have the right of extradition?

      I'm assuming you mean the right to fight the extradition. That wouldn't be in the Constitution, that would be in the international treaties. Not that the US ever cared for those...

      Fuck him, he isn't a citizen of the US.

      Neither am I, fuck you very much.

      Sadly, your military won't really help you once you finish pissing off the ~7.2 billion people who are not US citizens. World without friends is a scary place.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 9:55am

    how is this hard

    And, maybe that's okay, because maybe, as with many people, they wouldn't have been able to separate out the copyright question from the civil asset forfeiture question from the fugitive disentitlement question -- all of which are separate but important.

    What is the problem? Anyone can see that these things are separate. I think you are giving too much leeway to the Supreme Court

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ed (profile), 3 Oct 2017 @ 1:28pm

    Who's got the best pirates now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    afn29129 (profile), 3 Oct 2017 @ 2:46pm

    Resist extradition...

    Resist extradition Kim because it's now quite apparent that you can't get a fair trial in the US.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 3 Oct 2017 @ 3:33pm

    If Dotcom is eventually found to be not guilty -- that won't have any impact on this. The US government still gets to keep his stuff (or, well, whatever it can get its hands on).

    I'd love to hear the legal justification for keeping the assets of a person who is found to be not guilty. Isn't the whole premise of forfeiture that the government gets to take the proceeds of criminal activity? If the person is later found not guilty, it means there was no criminal activity in the first place, so therefore the seized assets have been proven not to be the proceeds of a crime. So the whole justification for taking them in the first place goes up in smoke. What then becomes the legal argument for keeping private property that is NOT related to criminal activity?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 3 Oct 2017 @ 4:05pm

      Re:

      'Well now, just because the person is found innocent it doesn't mean that the property is innocent. Those cars and bank accounts look mighty guilty to me, and since they were found guilty in a court of law, with absolutely no-one interested in contesting their guilt, it's only fair that the property face the consequences for it's criminal actions.'

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 6:21pm

      Re:

      I'd love to hear the legal justification for keeping the assets of a person who is found to be not guilty.

      "Because we can."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2017 @ 4:25pm

    United Thieves of America

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MyNameHere (profile), 4 Oct 2017 @ 5:30am

    The reason that the court won't review it is pretty simple: the case has not reached it's conclusion yet, so there isn't enough to really work on.

    I would also say the courts are likely to take a very dim view of a guy who isn't willing to appear in court to face charges against him but can quickly whip up a couple of lawyers to appear to try to get his money. It actually looks pretty bad.

    There also isn't much in the way of conflict between jurisdictions to resolve either. There isn't a series of opposing judgments in the different districts that needs addressing.

    Further, and let's make it clear: "The issue here is that as part of the arrest of Dotcom and his colleagues, the US "seized" many of his assets. Now, when the government seizes assets, it's a temporary thing." The problem here is that Kim has been dragging out the extradition process as long as possible (and really way longer than is merited, New Zealand has one of the most patient legal systems in the world), in no small part to try to run the clock out on the asset seizure.

    My feeling is if Kim had gotten the money back, he would have hopped the first transport he could get on to move to a neutral third country that wouldn't extradite him - with or without a passport. He pretty much knows if he ever gets into the US, his goose will be cooked.

    There was little here for SCOTUS to deal with: An endless extradition, outstanding criminal charges, a defendant who appears mostly interested in the money and not in clearing his name, and a total lack of controversy at the federal court level. Why would they want to review the case?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 4 Oct 2017 @ 5:39am

      Re:

      Dotcom's only "opportunity" to clear his name is under unfair conditions in which the law of the land isn't being applied, as has been pointed out in TD many times. If he does arrive in the US at any point he'd face a kangaroo court with a court-appointed lawyer unless he could come up with the cash to defend himself given that his assets have been frozen and/or confiscated.

      The last thing the DOJ wants at this point is a trial since its own wrongdoing would be held up to scrutiny, which is why they are letting this case die quietly.

      That Barack Obama could let this happen on his watch is a damning indictment of his presidency — as a constitutional lawyer he knew better. That Trump lets it continue is a damning indictment of his since he had the opportunity to clean up the DOJ and pt that twerp Sessions in charge instead. A very poor show by all concerned.

      I'm not a mad fan of Dotcom but in essence if he doesn't have the right to a fair trial, neither do any of us.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Oct 2017 @ 6:56pm

      Re:

      Almost like an entertainment industry who claims they're too devastated to adequately pay the millions of people who they allegedly employ, but can quickly whip up millions of dollars to pay increasing annual bonuses to their enforcement departments. And by enforcement departments, they mean the CEO doing public relations trying to convince the world why suing grandmothers is a good thing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Oct 2017 @ 8:27am

    "...from the that's-unfortunate dept..."?

    More like the increasingly-predictably-Trumpian dept.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Oct 2017 @ 9:46am

      Re: "...from the that's-unfortunate dept..."?

      Just because you quote something from the article doesn't magically make any ol' thing you write on topic.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Oct 2017 @ 9:48pm

    You wouldn't steal a car ...

    But we will.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2017 @ 5:14am

      Re: You wouldn't steal a car ...

      No, we wouldn't steal anyone's car. I would gladly download copies of a car. There is a fundamental difference between theft and copying. Theft is where there is one item and the original owner is suddenly having to walk everywhere. Duplicating is where everyone can have infinite cars with the original owner still in possession and driving around in the original car.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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