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Megaupload’s Dotcom Wins Release on Bail in New Zealand

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Feb. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Megaupload.com founder Kim Dotcom, indicted by the U.S. for orchestrating the country’s biggest copyright infringement conspiracy, can remain out of jail on bail pending an extradition hearing, a New Zealand judge ruled.

High Court Justice Timothy Brewer today rejected an appeal by New Zealand prosecutors, a Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said by telephone. Brewer was acting at the request of the U.S. to keep Dotcom in prison until the extradition hearing, currently scheduled for Aug. 20.

Dotcom, 38, was indicted in what U.S. prosecutors dubbed a “Mega Conspiracy,” accusing his file-sharing website of generating more than $175 million in criminal proceeds from the exchange of pirated film, music, book and software files. He faces as long as 20 years in prison for each of the racketeering and money laundering charges in the indictment.

In a revised indictment filed in a U.S. court in Alexandria Virginia, on Feb. 17, Dotcom was also charged with three new criminal copyright counts and five new wire-fraud counts.

The conspiracy deprived copyright owners of more than $500 million, the U.S. government said.

Dotcom, who legally changed his family name from Schmitz, has denied any criminal misconduct.

Megaupload advertised that it had more than 1 billion visits to the site, more than 150 million registered users and 50 million daily visitors, and accounted for 4 percent of Internet traffic, prosecutors said. The site was shut down by the U.S. Justice Department and now shows an FBI anti-piracy warning, saying the domain name has been seized pursuant to an order issued by a U.S. District Court.

The case is Kim Dotcom v. United States of America. DCNSD [25 January 2012]. District Court at North Shore (Albany).

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Schneider in Sydney at jschneider5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at dwong19@bloomberg.net.

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