Megaboned? Long odds against legal success, say law profs

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On Thursday, the US government unsealed a 72-page indictment against Megaupload. The file locker was one of the largest sites on the Web, and major copyright holders had accused it of facilitating widespread copyright infringement. The government argues that Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and his lieutenants were less a legitimate business than a scheme to profit from the infringing activities of their users.

Of course, defendants are innocent until proven guilty. Dotcom and his co-defendants may still avoid extradition to the United States, and if they come to the US they'll have an opportunity to dispute the government's evidence or to argue that their actions were not, in fact, against the law. Indeed, Megaupload has long claimed that its purported compliance with the DMCA's notice-and-takedown requirements means that the site is immune from liability under US copyright law.

To help us understand the legal issues in the Megaupload case, Ars Technica spoke with three law professors: James Grimmelmann at New York Law School, Michael Carrier at Rutgers-Camden, and Chris Sprigman at the University of Virginia. All three agreed that Megaupload is not the world's most sympathetic defendant, but they offered divergent assessments of Dotcom's chance of a legal victory—and of the the case's possible implications for the future of copyright law and the file-locker industry.