Megaupload founder plans site reboot

2012-10-11 19:08
Kim Dotcom and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, right, stand together in Auckland (Kim Dotcom, AP)

Kim Dotcom and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, right, stand together in Auckland (Kim Dotcom, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Wellington - In a move bound to provoke US prosecutors and entertainment executives, indicted Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is planning to launch a replacement of his shuttered website and a new online music service by year's end.

The file-sharing site that Dotcom started in 2005 was one of the most popular online sites before US prosecutors shut it down and filed racketeering charges against Dotcom and six other Megaupload principals in January.

US authorities are now trying to extradite Dotcom from New Zealand, where he's a resident, claiming he facilitated massive copyright piracy through his site. Prosecutors say Dotcom pocketed tens of millions of dollars while movie makers and songwriters lost some $500m in copyright revenue.

Dotcom said he can't be held responsible for users who acted illegally and that Megaupload complied with copyrights by removing links to pirated material when asked. Some legal experts say proving Dotcom's conduct amounted to criminal conspiracy will be difficult, and he has gained some high-profile support, including from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

The flamboyant Dotcom confirmed in a brief telephone interview this week that he's almost completed work on "new Mega" and "Megabox" but said he doesn't want to divulge details ahead of a major press launch. However, statements he's made on Twitter and a promotional video paint a picture of what he's planning.


In recent tweets, Dotcom says his new version of Megaupload is nearly complete. "Quick update on the new Mega: Code 90% done. Servers on the way. Lawyers, Partners & Investors ready. Be patient. It's coming," he wrote.

He said the new version will feature a one-click encryption option for data transfers and that the service would be hosted on servers outside the US.

Asked by one Twitter user if he was nervous that "what happened to Megaupload could happen to New Mega?" Dotcom replied: "That will be impossible. Trust me!"

Dotcom said his planned music service Megabox will enable users to download music for free in exchange for accepting some advertisements.

He said that 90% of the revenue will go to the artists and that the service will be a legitimate way of "unchaining artists and fans" to do business with each other with a minimal need for middlemen.

A promotional video posted by Dotcom on YouTube indicates Megabox will take advantage of social media tools to show trends and will allow users to upload their own music.

US prosecutors won't comment on the case while it's being litigated. The Motion Picture Association of America, which filed complaints about alleged copyright infringement by Megaupload, this week also declined to comment on Dotcom's plans.

Embarrassing mistakes

Asked on the phone if US prosecutors might see his plans as a poke in the eye, Dotcom said "probably".

Dotcom's case has fascinated people in New Zealand at the same time as it has moved like a wrecking ball through the judicial system here, exposing embarrassing mistakes made by police, politicians, judges and spies.

Prime Minister John Key even publicly apologised to "Mr Dotcom" in September after acknowledging spies had carried out unlawful surveillance on him before his January arrest.

A judge here also found that police executed an unlawful search warrant when they seized digital material from Dotcom, evidence which was later passed on to the FBI.

A lawmaker was forced to explain why he listed a campaign donation from Dotcom as "anonymous" (he maintains he didn't know who the donor was) while another judge was forced to step down from the case after making an anti-US remark.

The missteps likely won't have much impact on the criminal case unless Dotcom's defence lawyers can prove that US authorities were complicit in gaining evidence by unlawful means.

But Dotcom's latest plans could raise further questions of New Zealand's judiciary, which decided to allow Dotcom access to the internet and millions of dollars of his frozen funds while on bail.


Jennifer Granick, the director of civil liberties at the Stanford University law school's Centre for Internet and Society, said Dotcom's case marks the first time the US has attempted to hold somebody criminally liable for copyright infringement committed by others. She said prosecutors are pushing at the boundaries of the law.

"It makes the substantive underpinnings of the case highly questionable, legally," Granick said. "It's a novel case."

Dotcom, 38, who changed his name from Kim Schmitz, has enjoyed a rollercoaster ride as a hacker turned playboy turned family man.

He has faced legal trouble before, picking up convictions in Germany in 1998 for computer fraud and in 2002 for insider trading. In his latest legal battle, he has presented himself as an internet freedom fighter and has gained many devoted fans on Twitter with whom he interacts regularly.

His extradition hearing is scheduled for March.
Read more on:    megaupload  |  internet  |  cybercrime

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36 publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.