Right to copy vs. copyright: FBI accused of ‘stealing’ Megaupload evidence

FBI accused of ‘stealing’ MegaUpload evidence
While the owners of the Megaupload.com website are locked in lawsuits over illegal data sharing, the FBI is suspected of removing evidence against them without permission. The Bureau claims there was no violation: the obtained evidence is “digital.”

­The legal team of Kim Dotcom, the owner of the file-sharing website, has launched an offensive against the FBI. They argue the Bureau has illegally copied data from Dotcom’s computers and sent cloned information to America.

The first [copies] were sent without the New Zealand Police having any say in it whatsoever. If [they] went offshore without the consent of the attorney-general, it was an illegal act,” said William Akel, Dotcom’s lawyer, as quoted by the New Zealand daily Stuff.

New Zealand authorities were summoned to court to explain how the FBI was allowed to remove the data from the country. Their lawyers maintained that the act was legal as the relevant law only covered "physical" items.

Whether the judge will agree with this argument has yet to be seen. There is something to consider as the entire case against Megaupload is built on evidence, which is not physical.

MegaUpload.com was shut down in January and its operators were arrested and hard disk drives confiscated in New Zealand. Written agreements say the drives should not be handed to US investigators prior to a hearing to decide how the evidence would be treated. 

The data scooped by New Zealand authorities was housed on 18 servers, but they were so large the FBI could copy only two of them. At the same time, NZ prosecutors did not have enough time to come up with sufficient evidence to extradite Kim Schmitz aka Kim Dotcom to the US, where he is wanted on multiple copyright counts.