Image Credit: Kim Dotcom/Twitter Profile Pic
Dotcom – real name Kim Schmitz – is best known as founder of file-sharing service Megaupload, which was forced offline in 2012 by the US Justice Department on claims of criminal copyright infringement.
Though he went on to launch a similar cloud-based service called Mega, as he awaits his extradition hearing next year Dotcom revealed at an event in London last week that he is now officially “broke”. This went some way towards explaining why his crack legal team had jumped ship, at least.
To capitalize on his precarious predicament, American authorities had sought to have Dotcom’s bail revoked ahead of the extradition hearing in June 2015, which could lead to him receiving up to 88 years behind bars.
The core underlying accusations levied against Dotcom is that he wasn’t simply providing a cloud-based file-sharing service à la Dropbox – it’s that he was complicit in actively encouraging users to upload and disseminate copyrighted material.
Steven Fabrizio, the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) senior executive vice president and global general counsel, has previously said:
“Megaupload wasn’t a cloud storage service at all, it was an unlawful hub for mass distribution. To be clear, if a user uploaded his term paper to store it, he got nothing – and, in fact, unless he was a paying subscriber, Megaupload would delete the paper if it was not downloaded frequently enough. But if that same user uploaded a stolen full-length film that was repeatedly infringed, he was paid for his efforts.
That’s not a storage facility; that’s a business model designed to encourage theft – and make its owners very rich in the process. There’s nothing new or innovative about that. That’s just a profiteer using existing technology to try to get rich off of someone else’s hard work.”
Dotcom says Mega now has 15 million registered users, though his claims of being broke are essentially down to the fact that all his shares and assets have been transferred over to his family. However, he did reveal during the latest bail hearing that he had garnered $40 million since being on bail – as such, the Judge imposed slightly stricter bail conditions. Not only can’t he travel by helicopter or by sea, but he must also report twice a week to a local police station.