Big content wants to freeze Dotcom’s assets

Music and movie giants have joined forces to freeze Kim Dotcom’s assets, but it looks like they might have to come up with a deposit first.

Lawyers appeared at the High Court in Auckland on Monday on behalf of four music industry companies and six Hollywood film studios seeking to have Dotcom’s assets frozen ahead of their claim against him.

They claim that Dotcom, facilitated, encouraged and profited from massive copyright infringement and want Dotcom’s New Zealand assets to remain frozen while their case is under way. The advantage is that if Dotcom can’t afford expensive legal aid in a US they will win because they have huge wallets.

Warner Music, UMG Recordings, Sony Music and Capitol Records, 20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Universal, Columbia Pictures and Warner Brothers are all involved in the attempt.

Dotcom and his wife have had their assets frozen already, Matthew Sumpter, who appeared for the film companies, said there was no evidence of any suffering or loss to Dotcom.

But lawyers appearing for Dotcom and his wife, Mona, said the estranged pair were prepared to maintain the current freeze but the companies needed to offer security first.

Dotcom’s lawyer, Robert Gapes, said the companies should put up $NZ250,000 ($A232,742) for Dotcom and a further $NZ250,000 for his wife.

But Justice John Fogarty agreed with the Dotcoms and said that the amount was “peanuts” for such wealthy clients and said the Dotcoms could suffer damages by having their capital tied up.

He asked the parties to negotiate the conditions of the freeze. If they can’t sort it out themselves they’ll be back in court later this month.

In April, an application to extend restraining orders on Dotcom’s assets – including cars, jewellery and other property – that have been in place since his arrest in January 2012 was declined.

However, the Crown, on behalf of the US government, appealed against the decision to allow Dotcom to get his assets back.

That hearing is due to be held on July 30 and lawyers for the studios want to have their separate application to have Dotcom’s assets frozen in relation to their civil case to be heard beforehand, probably in mid-July.