megauploads.com – largest criminal copyright case in the U.S. and its ties to the Baltics

As Estonia is widely known for its IT-solutions, there is no reason to be surprised by the fact that Estonian nationals have been involved in the infamous Megaupload.com case in the United States.

An Estonian national Andres Nõmm was a computer programmer who has worked for the Mega Conspiracy from 2007 until being arrested in January 2012. In his plea, Nõmm further admitted of being aware that copyright-infringing content had been stored on the websites, including copyright-protected motion pictures and television programs. Nõmm also admitted that he himself had downloaded copyright-infringing files from the Mega websites.

According to the press release of Department of Justice of the United States published early this year, Estonian programmer Andrus Nõmm was pleaded guilty for a copyright infringement felony. He was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison.

As per publication in ars technica, “This conviction is a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in U.S. history,” Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said in the statement. “The Mega conspirators are charged with massive worldwide online piracy of movies, music and other copyrighted U.S. works. We intend to see to it that all those responsible are held accountable for illegally enriching themselves by stealing the creative work of U.S. artists and creators.”

American criminal charges against the six co-defendants related to Megaupload, including Kim Dotcom, remain pending. All of the Megaupload defendants (most notably founder Kim Dotcom) have been battling extradition and fighting the government’s case from outside the U.S. borders.

The founder of megauploads.com Kim Dotcom tweeted that: „The U.S. Justice system: An innocent coder pleads guilty after 3 years of DOJ abuse, with no end in sight, in order to move on with his life.“.

The press release further stated that:

“In court papers, Nomm agreed that the harm caused to copyright holders by the Mega Conspiracy’s criminal conduct exceeded $400 million. He further acknowledged that the group obtained at least $175 million in proceeds through their conduct. Megaupload.com had claimed that, at one time, it accounted for four percent of total Internet traffic, having more than one billion total visits, 150 million registered users and 50 million daily visitors.

TRINITI lawyers, however, appreciated the statement published in ars technica of Nõmm’s attorney Alan Yamamoto as well:

The [Department of Justice] apparently used Andrus Nomm’s weak financial condition and inability to fight back to manufacture a Hollywood style publicity stunt in the form of a scripted guilty plea in court. The facts mentioned in court, like a lack of cloud filtering of copyrighted works, are civil secondary copyright issues, not criminal issues. The facts read off in court sound like the civil allegations against YouTube made by Viacom, and YouTube won. The plea deal appears to allow the [Department of Justice] to obtain testimony from Andrus Nomm under threats of an increased sentence if they take issue with his level of cooperation. If Andrus Nomm testifies truthfully, including about the copyright neutral software code and robust notice and takedown system such testimony will help the defence.

Intellectual property