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Worldcrunch

Kim Dotcom Case: N.Z. Court Rules Megaupload Search Warrants Illegal

Worldcrunch

THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD, CNET

AUCKLAND - The New Zealand High Court ruled on Thursday that the January police raid of Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom's mansion was illegal. 

Kim Dotcom, whose given name is Kim Schmitz, is a German national who founded the file-sharing site Megaupload.com. The website was shut down and Kim Dotcom's $30 million house was raided by police earlier this year as part of an ongoing F.B.I. investigation into global copyright theft. 

The court ruled that the warrants used for the search did not adequately describe the offenses related to them. Justice Helene Winkermann found that the scope of the warrants were too wide, the New Zealand Herald reports.

"These categories of items were defined in such a way that they would inevitably capture within them both relevant and irrelevant material. The police acted on this authorization," said the ruling. "The warrants could not authorise seizure of irrelevant material, and are therefore invalid.''

The court also ruled that the removal of cloned hard drives from New Zealand by the F.B.I. was illegal because Kim Dotcom was unaware of the move and had never given his consent. Dotcom is free on bail in New Zealand ahead of a hearing in August to see if he will face extradition to the U.S. It is unclear what effect Thursday's court ruling will have on the case.

Dotcom got another boost earlier this week when Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said he fully supported the Internet enterpreneur. In an exclusive interview with CNET.com, Wozniak said that Dotcom did everything he could to prevent piracy on his file-sharing service and criticized the United States authorities.

"When governments dream up charges of 'racketeering' for a typical IT guy who is just operating a file-sharing service, or accuse him of mail fraud because he said he had removed files [to alleged infringing content] when he'd just removed the links to them, this is evidence of how poorly thought out the attempt to extradite him is," Wozniak told CNET. "Prosecutors are attempting to take advantage of loopholes."

Prosecutors say Dotcom was at the head of a group that made $175 million copying and distributing copyrighted material without authorization. 

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