The film industry is laughing at allegations made by Kim DotCom, the founder of accused pirate site MegaUpload.
DotCom claims leaders from the major Hollywood studios gathered last June in Washington to discuss MegaUpload with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
In an interview with TorrentFreak on Tuesday, DotCom produced White House records that showed some of the chiefs of the six largest film studios, including Brad Grey, CEO of Paramount Pictures, and Ron Meyer of Universal Studios, met with Biden at the White House on July 27, 2011. He noted that also in attendance was Mike Ellis, an executive with the Motion Picture Association of America's division in Asia, who DotCom claimed was an extradition expert.
DotCom also said that it was the vice president that ordered the police assault and arrest of DotCom in January. DotCom, born Kim Schmitz, operated MegaUpload, a cloud-storage service, until the site was shut down by the U.S. government and he was thrown in jail. The United States accused him of copyright violations and related crimes and is trying to extradite him from New Zealand where he lives.
The MPAA says the meeting focused on a matter of much greater importance than MegaUpload and in fact MegaUpload was not discussed. The vice president was preparing for a trip to China, which occurred just weeks following the meeting with the studio executives. According to the MPAA, Biden made appeals on their behalf to the Chinese government to remove some of the trade barriers to American films.
"The purpose of this meeting with the vice president was to discuss his [then] upcoming trip to China last August and the importance of reaching a settlement, with the Chinese government, of the United States World Trade Organization complaint against China, which would increase the number of foreign films permitted into that country and provide a better share of box office revenues," the MPAA said in a statement to CNET. "The eventual agreement announced in February was a major step forward in spurring the growth of U.S. exports to China," the MPAA continued "and was tremendous news for the millions of American workers and businesses whose jobs depend on the entertainment industry."
An MPAA representative said that Ellis attended the meeting because he's President and Managing Director of Asia Pacific for the MPAA and an expert on China.
Government sources have also told CNET today that Biden only helps set the overall agenda on antipiracy and doesn't get involved with the nuts and bolts of how that agenda is pursued. The sources said the vice president had nothing to do with the order to pursue a criminal case against MegaUpload. The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, the man who brought the case, has said that the film studios came to federal officials with allegations against MegaUpload and the decision was made two years ago to investigate.
Update 6:24 p.m. PT: The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia
Correction: 12:45 p.m. PT: This story incorrectly paraphrased what the MPAA said about Ellis' legal background. He does have a background in extradition law.