(Stephen C. Webster) Video footage of a police raid on the home of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is missing, and authorities claim they’re not quire sure what happened to it.
This flub is just the latest in anti-piracy allegations against the file-hosting site, and comes amid the evidence discovery phase in the case against Kim Dotcom, the extravagant and eccentric founder of Megaupload, which was raided by New Zealand authorities after the U.S. movie and music industries accused the site of extensive media piracy.
Following the raid, New Zealand’s highest court chided authorities for filing the wrong paperwork for their warrant, then filing the right request after the raid already transpired in hopes of making their request retroactive. The site’s founder has since claimed key pieces of evidence against him are actually files he legally owned, indicating that the prosecution’s case has some serious weaknesses.
And now, a new wrinkle: Police reportedly agreed to let Megaupload’s IT expert download a copy of security camera footage stored on Dotcom’s personal file server, which was seized by police during the raid even though it was not among the evidence they claimed to be pursuing. But when Dotcom’s expert arrived at the police station recently, he discovered that the server had been “completely disassembled,”according to Ars Technica. Then officers reportedly refused to reassemble the server or provide any of the data contained therein, even after their previous agreement to release the footage.
That means evidence which could be key to Dotcom’s defense may be gone for good, and New Zealand authorities may ultimately avoid heightened scrutiny of their actions during the raid.
Assistant Police Commissioner Malcolm Burgess told New Zeland’s 3News that 20-30 “highly trained” officers participated in the raid after an internal “threat assessment” indicated that evidence could be destroyed and that firearms were present within Dotcom’s residence. They ultimately found two firearms and no evidence was destroyed amid the raid, which Dotcom’s defense alleges to have been conducted at gunpoint by heavily armed, militarized police forces.
Megaupload used to bill itself as a “cyber-locker” that offered blind hosting to enable its users to share whatever they like with friends and family, and it offered a tool that enabled copyright holders to report and remove infringing content. Search giant Google recently weighed in on another case against a website called Hotfile, which functioned similarly to Megaupload. Google argued that current copyright law actually protects these activities so long as the service provider is actively removing hyperlinks to infringing files, much like the search company does with YouTube.
At least two companies, FileSonic and FileServe, closed their doors following the raid on MegaUpload.