The colorful founder of file-sharing site Megaupload, closed by authorities in 2012, will face trial in the US if prosecutors have their way. Kim Dotcom—charged with conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, racketeering, and money-laundering—appeared in a New Zealand court today for an extradition hearing in which US prosecutors must prove Dotcom and three Megaupload employees have a case to answer in the US, reports the AP. Dotcom—who brought his own leather chair for "ergonomic reasons," per the BBC—argues he shouldn't be responsible for users who illegally downloaded songs and movies shared on his site. His lawyers add prosecutors pressed criminal copyright infringement charges only because they were needed for an extradition and apply to people who directly steal, not secondary parties.
Since the FBI has frozen tens of millions held in Dotcom's accounts, the defense also argues Dotcom has been prevented from rousing a strong defense and can't pay his legal bills. The FBI apparently has little sympathy. Officers say Dotcom and his associates, Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk, and Finn Batato, cost film studios and record companies more than $500 million in an operation—referred to by the FBI as the "Mega Conspiracy"—that made them $175 million, report the BBC and Guardian. Each of the men face decades behind bars in the US. Even if US prosecutors are successful in obtaining extradition, it could be months or years before a trial begins in Virginia. The hearing—previously delayed nine times, per 3 News—could last four weeks, and each side is likely to appeal an unfavorable decision.