Tag Archives: Kim Dotcom

Kim Dotcom Circles the Drain (But Still Has More Than He Deserves)

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!)

Kim Dotcom Extradition Hearing Highlights Fraud on a Global Scale

The long-awaited extradition hearing of Kim Dotcom finally got underway last week, as a court in Auckland, New Zealand began to listen to arguments in favor of sending the piracy figurehead to the USA to face justice.

It’s no secret that Dotcom has polarized public opinion over the months and years since his file-sharing service Megaupload was shut down by US authorities in 2012. To some, he is the face of the “information wants to be free” argument, suffering persecution for their cause. To others, including the creators on whose back his company Megaupload crassly profited, he is simply a fraudster who has managed to evade the law… until now.

 

The latter is the case that the prosecution will make as they try to make the case that the self-styled “Bond villain” of piracy has crimes to answer for in the United States. The early appeals have been for the judge to disregard the distractions raised by Dotcom’s offline antics, from luxurious mansion-living of his Antipodean exile to his poorly-executed political career. Instead, prosecutors point to the “simple scheme of fraud” perpetrated by the service’s founder and his three cohorts at Megaupload.

That scheme includes not just offering unlicensed content for download, as is bad enough and so many sites continue to do. No, Megaupload was much more manipulative in its climb to the top of the piracy site standings.  The site created a reward structure that incentivized subscribers to seek out popular content and share it, in exchange for features and financial benefits depending on the demand for what they offered. The site was not innovative, as its owners claimed, nor was it making the requested and required steps to remove unlicensed content that Dotcom told authorities were in progress.

Consider the gall of offering something that others work hard to create, without paying for the privilege to make it available, then making users pay for that access without passing anything on. Throw in the profits from advertising and you have hundred of millions of dollars generated, for doing nothing more than creating a cloud storage system full of content you have no right to offer.

The case of Kim Dotcom typifies both the difficulty that authorities face in protecting home-grown talent on the global stage and the progress that can be made when national organizations work together to ensure that no-one is out of reach.

Although the distraction and theater surrounding Dotcom means it has taken years to get to this point, and will take longer still to get him to the US to answer the charges against him, the results will speak for creators everywhere. Intellectual property is protected by copyright law and that law forces piracy advocates .

Even when it takes years, the case of Kim Dotcom and the fate of his peers shows that there is nowhere for piracy profiteers to hide, regardless of how long it takes to make them face justice.

The Kim Dotcom Saga Continues

Kim Dotcom appears to be back to his old tricks once again. The alleged media pirate kingpin and founder of digital filesharing site Megaupload is once again challenging U.S. jurisdiction over his finances. To set the stage, recall that Dotcom is being sued by Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Universal and Warner Brothers are suing Dotcom for US$100 million over alleged copyright infringement.

In addition to the civil charges, Kim Dotcom is currently facing U.S. criminal charges ranging from tax evasion to money laundering. The current dispute is over Dotcom’s frozen assets is taking place in New Zealand, where the Megaupload mogul sits awaiting extradition to the U.S. in his country mansion.

The larger picture raised by the Kim Dotcom case is the difficulty of pursuing legal actions, particularly in the civil context. In this case, we actually know who the defendant is and where he currently resides. That’s often the exception. In many piracy cases, it’s exceedingly difficult to track down who an offending site belongs to, much less where the alleged perpetrators can actually be found. Servers are frequently routed around the world, and quickly disappear into the Wild West of Eastern Europe where it’s difficult o track anything down.

For Kim Dotcom latest dispute is over a New Zealand high court ruling that Dotcom must file an affidavit revealing and detailing his financial assets worldwide. The plaintiffs in the copyright suit are concerned that the existing restraining order has not stopped Kim Dotcom from spending lavishly. The case is complex on jurisdictional grounds as the plaintiffs in a U.S. suit have petitioned a New Zealand court to rule against a plaintiff who has not submitted to U.S. jurisdiction.

There is certainly evidence that authorities have not reached all of Kim Dotcom’s assets. A case in point is Kim Dotcom’s funding of New Zealand’s failed Internet Party. It’s difficult to tell, from this vantage point, whether the quixotic founding and funding of the Internet Party was meant to be a true political statement, a prank or an opportunity to continue to party on a lavish scale (or some combination of all three). Kim Dotcom’s lawyers asserted that the plaintiffs were merely on a fishing expedition.