The U.S. government's criminal case against the website Megaupload will proceed for now, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday. The decision deals a setback to Megaupload as the business and its chief executive, Kim Dotcom, battle claims that they egged on global copyright theft.
U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady, in the order, agreed with prosecutors that there was no procedural mistake in their capability to serve papers in the United States to Megaupload, which is located in Hong Kong.
However, the judge left open the potential chance he could eventually dismiss the charge on other grounds, like an argument that postpones have denied the business its right to "due process."
Megaupload attorney Ira Rothken told Reuters he intends to file such a request soon.
O'Grady signed the order allowing the case to go forward on Friday. Monday was a holiday for the U.S. government, so the order was not posted online until Tuesday.
Megaupload was one of the world's most popular websites, permitting users to share and store information, until a U.S.-led operation shut down the business in January, took its assets and raided Dotcom's luxury property in New Zealand. U.S. prosecutors say Dotcom and seven others are guilty of organizing a criminal enterprise that made over $175 million. They are requesting New Zealand to extradite Dotcom.
Dotcom denies the allegations and has attempted to rally Internet users to his cause. In May, Megaupload lawyers requested that the indictment against the corporation be thrown out because they said it had no address in the United States and could not be served with court papers. O'Grady turned down that idea, writing that a foreign business violating laws within the United States cannot "evade the jurisdiction of United States courts by purposefully failing to establish an address here."
In time, prosecutors may serve one of the business's executives if he is extradited, the judge wrote.
In a footnote, O'Grady said that he "leaves open the possibility" of a future debate that Megaupload "has been denied due process" by the failure to provide for the business. The U.S. Constitution ensures "due process of law" for criminal defendants and other parties.
Did you know?
Businesses and corporations can face criminal charges.
When the company is located in another country, they can still potentially face charges based in the United States, but the case becomes more complex.