Kim Dotcom founded Megaupload back in 2005 so users could store their files online; but the US government shuttered the site last January stating that the site hosted infringing files and promoted piracy. Dotcom and his allies were arrested and charged with engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering, and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement.
So how in the world did Dotcom transform from being arrested to becoming a cult hero?
Below is a timeline of the events that transposed and how Dotcom became a household name and now a folk hero.
Kim Dotcom hired producer Printz Board to create a song for Megaupload and signed up huge artists like P Diddy, Will.i.am, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Chris Brown, The Game and Mary J Blige, to perform the song. The Mega Song went viral when it was released on December 9 but was soon taken off YouTube as Universal Music Group filed a complaint stating that the song violated UMG’s copyrights. Dotcom was able to reinstate the video for a few minutes but was taken down again and were warned by YouTube that their account would be blocked if they keep posting infringing contents. Dotcom claims that they own everything about the Mega Song and everything on the video, and that UMG’s actions were illegal. Dotcom filed a case against UMG and demanded an apology. UMG denied that the takedown was ordered under the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and said that the takedown was “pursuant to the UMG-YouTube agreement,” which gives UMG “the right to block or remove user-posted videos through YouTube’s CMS (Content Management System) based on a number of contractually specified criteria.” The video was reinstated but the reason for the takedown still remained unclear.
On January 19, 2012, the government shutdown Megaupload and filed criminal cases against Dotcom and his allies. On January 20, New Zealand officials served the warrants for the arrest of Dotcom and other Megaupload employees, raided Dotcom’s house, seized his properties and froze all his accounts. Dotcom, on a later date, stated that the arresting officers used excessive force during his arrest–even if he had his hands out, the officers used brute force, even stepping on his hand that caused his nail to rupture and bleed.
The Megaupload takedown plus the arrest of Dotcom resulted in a massive uproar and retaliation from Anonymous–the hacktivist collective known for taking down government sites because of brutality and injustice towards people. Anonymous launched a massive distributed denial of service attack and took down the following sites: usdoj.gov and justice.gov (the U.S. Department of Justice), universalmusic.com (Universal Music Group), RIAA.org (the Recording Industry Association of America), MPAA.org (the Motion Picture Association of America), copyright.gov (the U.S. Copyright Office), hadopi.fr (France’s copyright-enforcement agency), wmg.com (Warner Music Group), bmi.com (Broadcast Music, Inc.) and fbi.gov (the Federal Bureau of Investigation). Anonymous allegedly used “a distributed version of the LOIC (Low Orbit Ion Cannon) a diagnostic tool used to stress-test Internet websites with tremendous amounts of bandwidth.”
When Megaupload was shutdown, all the files in their system were seized. This concerned users as not all of the files in there violated copyright laws. Though Megaupload urged users to keep copies of the files they upload on their servers, most of them didn’t, and they will not be liable in case of data loss. Users still wanted to get their files back but were met with bad new when Neil H. MacBride of the US Attorney’s Office filed a letter stating that the third party hosting sites hired by Megaupload could delete the stored files starting February 2nd. Megaupload hired Carpathia Hosting Inc. and Cogent Communications Group Inc. to store user files but since Megauploads accounts were frozen, they can no longer pay for their services. Carpathia and Cogent agreed to delete user accounts but decided not to. Carpathia pledged to help the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an international non-profitdigital rights advocacy and legal organization based in the United States, in collecting stories of legitimate users who want to access their files in Megaupload. The EFF is fighting for the files of the legitimate Megaupload users such as those in the US government. Yes, there are files uploaded by government and military personnels on Megaupload.
Dotcom was denied bail a couple of times because he was deemed as a flight risk and that there’s a possibility that not all of his assets were seized and frozen so there’s a huge possibility that he would just run and hide. But he was granted bail after his flight risk status was lifted by the New Zealand court after Megaupload’s chief financial officer has filed an affidavit supporting Dotcom’s contention that he has no money to flee; and it was established that he has only two passports (one Finnish and one German), not three, as previously asserted; the fact that the United States has extradition treaties with Germany and Finland; No steps have been taken to re-establish the shuttered business; and No new evidence against Dotcom has been uncovered.
On June 19, Dotcom surprised everyone with his return on Twitter. This was his first tweet on his new Twitter account: “This is Kim Dotcom. Follow me for direct updates about Mega, my upcoming album and personal website and what’s going on in my crazy life :‐)” Yes, his back and he’s got a lot of surprises up his sleeves. Of course everyone was doubting the authenticity of the account so he was quick to prove that it was really him, he tweeted a photo of himself and the rest of the Mega Conspiracy. He’s on Instagram too.
Dotcom tweeted a photo of him and Steve Wozniak along with some kind word for Woz and the EFF for helping Mega users get their files back. Dotcom and Woz are also working together on his new website Megabox which he was working on before the whole Megaupload debacle took place. Megabox would allow artists to sell their stuff and keep 90% of the earnings – this fact threatened the likes of Apple and Amazon which makes people believe is the root of why everyone’s targeting Dotcom. Dotcom tweeted that Megabox is not dead and it will be coming soon.
Dotcom tweeted “My alleged co-conspirators enjoying a wonderfully sunny Sunday at the Mansion” with a photo of the guys on electric vehicles. One NZ follower, Ben Gracewood, replied to Dotcom’s tweet, “do you guys just drive around in modified electric vehicles and pose for photos? I could live like that.” And voila, he got invited to swim with the sharks and was lucky enough to get one of his friends to join in on the fun. They tweeted almost everything they did and some even asked if they too can join. But alas, it was still an exclusive party. Last I heard, their planning on another swim party, this time, it would be open to the public.
The case against Megaupload is starting to crumble as New Zealand High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann ruled that the search conducted in Kim Dotcom’s home in January was illegal, as the search warrants were far too general and vague which did not describe the alleged offenses. The judge also noted that transferring of the cloned hard drives to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US was a violation of the directives given on February 16 which stated that “the items seized were to remain in the custody and control of the Commissioner of Police.” A lot of congratulations were passed on to Dotcom over Twitter when the news came out but he had a very interesting question regarding the ruling: “Will the FBI agents who stole my data now get extradited to New Zealand?” Also, Woz finally obliged and gave his thoughts on the Megaupload situation. He stated that the case was ridiculous and that he believes that Dotcom is innocent and no evidence has yet surfaced to prove otherwise.