-- It's a court drama four years in the making.
Kim Dotcom appeared in a New Zealand courtroom today for a hearing on whether he should be extradited to the United States to face charges he facilitated Internet piracy through Megaupload, his popular file-sharing website where millions of members stored files and downloaded copyrighted music, TV shows and movies before it was shuttered.
It's expected the hearing could last several weeks as prosecutors won't have to prove guilt but instead something known as a prima facie case, showing a level of proof that there is reason to bring a criminal case. A crown lawyer -- a term used for prosecutors in Commonwealth countries such as New Zealand -- is arguing the case in court on behalf of the United States.
Dotcom faces charges that include copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering. He said he cannot be held responsible for people who used his file-sharing site for illegitimate purposes. Along with Dotcom, U.S. officials are also seeking to extradite three other Megaupload employees. They have all said they are not guilty and vowed to vigorously fight the charges.
The tech giant -- who is known for his larger-than-life reputation and his towering stature -- was arrested in January 2012 during a raid on his lavish estate in Coatesville, New Zealand. Megaupload was shut down after the raid, Dotcom's fleet of fancy cars was seized and the mogul's bank accounts were frozen.
Dotcom and his supporters believe his case could have a greater impact on Internet freedom and the relationship between content creators and Internet sites. Regardless of the outcome, both sides will be able to appeal, meaning the drama that has surrounded Dotcom is far from over.