It’s goodbye grand mansion and hello to plain old penthouse living for Kim Dotcom, the piracy magnate of Megaupload infamy, who is currently holed up in New Zealand.
On the run from US authorities since his piracy site was shuttered in 2012, times are clearly getting tough for the self-styled “online entrepreneur,” as he fights extradition to face charges in the United States and racks up legal costs believed to be in the millions of dollars. That makes the $1 million a year mansion near Auckland an unjustifiable expense, evidently, although it would be fair to say that any luxury is unjustifiable for a man who made his fortune by exploiting original works without the permission of their creators.
For those misdeeds, Kim Dotcom’s day of reckoning seems to be much closer as we close the year than it did when 2015 began.
Back in September, Dotcom attended an extradition hearing in Auckland that accused him and his site of “simple fraud,” making millions of dollars by ignoring copyright and Megaupload’s responsibility to compensate creators for the intellectual property shared via the company’s servers.
Worse still, Dotcom and his cohorts encouraged this behavior by rewarding those who shared the most content, putting the site high on the FBI’s piracy hit list.
At September’s hearing, the court heard from US authorities that Megaupload had paid out more than $3 million in such rewards, driving even higher levels of copyright infringement on a global scale. One user alone made $50,000 over a five year period, demonstrating just how long Dotcom was able to profit from his illegal online venture before finally being shut down in 2012.
Now, his chickens are coming home to roost.
It has taken another three years to reach this point thanks to the self-imposed exile in New Zealand. Nonetheless, it shows that there really is no hiding place for those who engage in piracy, particularly when it’s on a commercial scale. It is not a legitimate business, those who run such sites are not entrepreneurs, and any ill-gotten gains will eventually be reclaimed in damages.
So spare a thought for poor old Kim as we approach the holiday season, but don’t make it a sympathetic one. Firstly, we hope that the creators will soon see justice done in 2016 and have Kim Dotcom answer for his exploitation of their work.
And, in the true spirit of giving, let’s hope that the authorities in Auckland see fit to offer the U.S. a gift and hand him over for the holidays. A late present is certainly better than never receiving one (unless your name is Kim, of course!)