A German court in Frankfurt (Beschl. v. 14.05.2012 – Az.: 5/28 Qs 15/12) has ruled that a request for mutual legal assistance from the United States regarding stripping assets belonging to Kim Dotcom, has no basis for legal action in Germany.
Kim Dotcom, the founder of the file-sharing MegaUpload site was arrested in Auckland, New Zealand in January of this year. He had been sought by the US authorities on copyright infringement charges relating to pirated content on his websites.
As a part of the criminal investigation against the file-sharing service Megaupload, certain assets were supposed to be removed. This request was issued by the American FBI when they called for legal assistance from the German authorities.
The Frankfurt judges have since rejected this request, because it contains insufficient evidence. The US legal team failed to demonstrate that a web hosting service for the illegal upload of copyrighted files, amounts to a criminal offence.
According to the German ‘Telemediengesetz’ (communications legislation), a hosting service for foreign files will generally not be accountable unless the host had active knowledge of illegal activity. The judges also emphasised that the concept of knowledge is limited to positive knowledge. Therefore if the service provider believes that it is possible or likely that a specific piece of information is stored on their server, this is not sufficient evidence of knowledge of abuse.
According to the court ruling, there is no legal obligation to monitor the transmitted data or stored information or to search for any illegal activity.
Since the US legal team did not mention any other circumstances that could constitute a criminal offence in their request for mutual legal assistance, the German court concluded that their request for the recovery of assets is unfounded.