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Kim Dotcom Civil Forfeiture Appeal Rejected by SCOTUS

By George Khoury, Esq. on October 03, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Kim Dotcom, the owner of now defunct, which used to be one of the biggest websites in the world, had his assets seized after the site was shut down by U.S. authorities. After an appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals was unsuccessful, Dotcom made a plea to the U.S. Supreme Court. But the High Court just refused to even hear the case.

Kim Dotcom was not born with that unusually modern last name, but rather changed it from Schmitz in 2005. As a teen, Dotcom was known for being a hacker and even was convicted over stolen phone calling cards. However, he founded Megaupload in 2005 and quickly became an internet success.

Dotcom's Drama

Megaupload was technically a website where users could upload large files to make them viewable online. However, the site quickly devolved into a video sharing site where U.S. copyright laws meant nothing at all. Sometimes before full feature length movies were even released in theaters, they found their way onto the site, along with pretty much every syndicated television program.

While the site claimed that such actions were violations of their terms of service and grounds for users to be removed from the site, nothing really seemed to change until the site was shut down in 2012.

Dotcom's Assets

In pursuing the criminal infringement action against Dotcom, the U.S. government seized his assets including: millions of dollars held in bank accounts, his New Zealand mansion, his luxury cars, jet skis, giant TVs, and some fine art. But, due to jurisdictional issues, Dotcom has been able to access some of those assets in order to cover legal expenses and keep his mansion residence.

Currently, there is an international dispute regarding whether or not the U.S. could properly seize his assets. The dispute stems from the New Zealand justice system's own handling of  its criminal case against Dotcom. Unfortunately for the U.S. though, in the New Zealand courts, it's been decided that the FBI did not have the right to seize and copy Dotcom's hard drives. Throughout the whole process, Dotcom has not set foot in the U.S., which has allowed U.S. courts to apply the fugitive disentitlement doctrine, which essentially prevents a defendant that has fled or evaded prosecution from challenging a forfeiture action.

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