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For Dotcom, a quiet anniversary – and a renewed offer to the US govt

The challenges ahead for the Giant German, three years from the raid on his rented mansion.

Chris Keall
Tue, 20 Jan 2015

Latest: Mega launches 'Skype-killer'

Dotcom marked the first anniversary of his arrest with a huge party at his mansion and the launch of Mega.

The second anniversary saw him announce a new political party.

The third? Well, it’s today, but it’s all quiet at Dotcom Mansion, and it’s just another day at the office on Kim’s Twitter account (where he’s complaining about a visitor getting grilled by customs).

His music service, Baboom was supposed to launch around now, but things have gone quiet on that front.

Just after Christmas, as Sony was hit by Korean hackers, Dotcom tweeted:

 #MegaNet is an alternative non-IP-based Internet. DDoS and most hacking attacks will be a thing of the past. Launching in 2016. #MyLegacy

Only Kim could use such a hashtag. But like his plan for a new international cable, #MegaNet seems more at the conceptual stage (and Twitter wags have compared it to everything from Compuserve to Akamai).

Another big idea – a US version of the Internet Party – seems to have also been quietly forgotten.

Mega’s reverse listing on the NZX, backed by a cast of characters with colourful legal backgrounds, is subject to endless delays. Ditto attempts to raise capital for Baboom (which has tried to distance itself from its founder, whom many content suppliers don’t have on their Christmas card list).

An offer to Uncle Sam
Dotcom has also recently renewed his offer to the US government to travel to that country and face trial – provided he’s guaranteed bail and the return of his assets.

It’s an attention-grabbing proposal, but not really anniversary-level material. He's made it before – and there’s no reason the US government will change its mind now. Uncle Sam is of the opinion that Dotcom made a fortune of around $US175 million through illegal means, so does not consider the assets are his to give back.

In fact, the US government is going in the opposite direction. Last year it brought a legal action that seeks to go beyond freezing Dotcom’s assets to seizing them through forfeiture.

Key questions for the extradition case
So: it’s a quiet New Year for the big man as he knuckles down ahead of his extradition case which, after numerous delays, is currently scheduled to be heard in June.

With the kerfuffle over the legality of search warrants settled, finally, in the Crown's favour, a key question will be whether the US government shot itself in the foot by including money laundering and racketeering charges in its indictment (one theory is that they are over-reach, and only tacked on because they are extraditable crimes).

Another, can Dotcom convince the court Mega was no different from other file sharing services, or will the Crown press home the argument that it was unique in paying cash incentives to uploaders (and nothing to artists) and in making pirated content easy to find (a claim Dotcom and his co-defendants deny).

And another: how can Kim Dotcom both tell a court (during his the Crown’s bid to revoke his bail) that he has made around $40 million since his arrest, and claim to be broke after spending around $10 million on legal fees during that time?

As ever in on planet Dotcom, things are far from clear.

A big idea
NBR's take: if he really wants to make his arguments about copyright centre-stage, and launch a US version of the Internet Party, Dotcom should voluntarily travel to North America. That would have been a killer way to mark the third annivesary of the Megaupload take-down.

I'm not convinced Dotcom would be jailed ahead of his case; he's accused of illegally making money off the backs of record companies and movie studios, not terrorism. But even if he was, there's nothing like persecution as a platform to promote your beliefs, get the public and media on-side and ultimately clear your name ... although of course a cell is not as comfortable as an all-night-gaming session in a private mansion.

Latest: Mega launches 'Skype-killer'

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

Chris Keall
Tue, 20 Jan 2015
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For Dotcom, a quiet anniversary – and a renewed offer to the US govt
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