An Appointment With Kim Dotcom

An Appointment With Kim Dotcom

View photo

Dotcom raid being re-enacted at the mansion.

Paul Spain is the host of the weekly NZ Tech Podcast, one of New Zealand's leading locally produced podcasts and often appears on TV and video as a commentator on consumer and business technology topics.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND -- It’s been said that Kim Dotcom is a villain. Many, particularly those in the film industry and law enforcement, believe it. To others, he is a hero standing up for the rights of Internet users everywhere.

[More from Mashable: Kim Dotcom’s Mega Begins Early Rollout]

I wanted to find out for myself where he stood.

I arrived at the Dotcom Mansion early Sunday afternoon New Zealand time. It was just a few hours after the launch of Kim Dotcom’s new website and one year since his mansion was raided and he was arrested by New Zealand police in conjunction with a U.S. request to extradite him.

[More from Mashable: Kim Dotcom’s Mega Loses Web Domain Before Debut]

A Chat With Kim Dotcom

A friendly Kim Dotcom greeted each of us in a small media gathering, before sitting at the head of the table flanked by Ira Rothken, his California-based attorney.

I expected a prepared statement. That wasn’t the case. Dotcom shared his excitement about the 250,000 Mega signups in the first two hours and soon led into Q&A session for the remaining 45-minutes. He proved to be extremely adept in the way he responded to questions, working effortlessly to position Mega as an innovator. He indicated a desire to help the film industry succeed in the world of digital downloads and streaming -- rather than being just a company out to line its own pockets.

Dotcom’s opinions and arguments for his cause were strong and generally well thought out, though on occasion seemed less robust. For instance he suggested he’d found a great way films could be funded in the future. His concept involves studios signing up digital streaming distributors around the world to fund a movie ahead of its production.

He felt distributors might pay for streaming rights before production, thereby funding the production. Unfortunately, I feel revenues from streaming (now and for the foreseeable future) are typically so low this would only provide a small fraction of the funds needed to produce a movie. And who wants to risk paying up front for a movie that might be a flop?

When asked about whether he would stay in New Zealand if he succeeds in stopping his extradition to the U.S. later this year, he was non-committal. On one hand he said he loved the country but on another he was worried he’d be persecuted by authorities, and in that case he’d leave. He spoke of journalists, music and movie producers on their way to visit him being harassed by customs officials upon arrival in the country –- including strip searches and even a request to view the content of one visitor’s laptop. I’ve not been able to verify these rather extreme occurrences.

Dotcom has positioned Mega as a service that sits between Dropbox and his previous site Megaupload -– with the added benefits of end-to-end encryption. He and Rothken went to great lengths to highlight that Mega would operate entirely within the law.

Dotcom made little effort to suggest Mega would be less prone to being a haven to copyright materials than Megaupload was. It seems there will continue to be a game of cat and mouse afoot as Dotcom and authorities try to outwit each other.

(A full audio recording of the discussion will be available later today at NZ Tech Podcast.)

In a one-on-one setting with Dotcom, I tried to gain more understanding about the open source elements of the Mega service and his commitment to New Zealand. Interestingly he was reticent to provide solid answers to either question and provided what I felt were just pat answers aimed at fobbing me off.

As we left the compound mid-afternoon, we saw Kim on stage rehearsing for the evening performance he would lead, with the support of musicians, his co-accused and investors in the new Mega. That performance included a dramatization of the raid on his home one year before. It was a gathering filled with media from around the country and a few from abroad. In the public context he continued to sell Mega extremely well –- to the point where someone commented to me that the event at times felt like a religious or marketing conference.

Dotcom currently remains on bail until his extradition hearing due in September. Amongst those in attendance, it appeared widely accepted that the bid to extradite him from New Zealand to the U.S. is likely to fail because of mistakes made by law enforcement and New Zealand spy agency GCSB.

After my visit, I’m left with a number of fairly clear impressions about Kim Dotcom and Mega. How you take these will depend on which side of the fence you stand:

  1. Mega’s management team is making every effort to operate in a manner that does not fall afoul of the law (though it could be argued they did the same with Megaupload).
  2. Mega will be used to distribute copyrighted materials such as movies, TV shows and music -– though likely to a lesser extent than Megaupload did.
  3. Kim Dotcom will continue to draw controversy and be outspoken about the rights of Internet users everywhere. He is not backing down.

Love him or hate him, Kim Dotcom is back in business and, if he’s to be believed, no fair court will be able to stop him.

Dotcom raid being re-enacted at the mansion.

Click here to view this gallery.

Photos by Paul Spain

This story originally published on Mashable here.

View Comments (0)

Recommended for You

  • Luggage piece found on French island near possible MH370 debris

    Part of a bag was found Thursday on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion not far from plane debris which has fuelled speculation it may be from missing flight MH370. "The piece of luggage was here since yesterday but nobody really paid attention," said Johnny Begue, a member of a local…

  • Chicago man cleared after 17 years in prison shot dead

    CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago man who served 17 years in prison for murder before being cleared of the crime has been shot and killed almost three years after being released from prison, police said Wednesday.

    Associated Press
  • Family Pet-Sitter Helps Herself To Homeowner's Possessions

    DEAR ABBY: A trusted and beloved family member who takes care of my cats -- and therefore has a key to my house -- has been stealing things like cleaning supplies, knickknacks, family pictures, etc. Most of them have little monetary value. But imagine my surprise when I spotted some of my missing…

    Dear Abby
  • Eight family members decapitated in north Mexico

    Eight people from the same family, including two minors, were kidnapped by masked gunmen and their decapitated bodies were found days later in northern Mexico, authorities said Wednesday. The bodies were found after a ninth member of the Martinez family escaped Sunday's abduction near Casa Quemada,…

  • Play

    Body cam footage from Cincinnati shooting contradicts official story

    A University of Cincinnati police officer has been indicted for murder after body camera footage contradicted his official story outlining the events that led to the shooting death of unarmed Cincinnati driver Samuel Dubose.

    Reuters Videos
  • An American Dentist Killed Zimbabwe’s Famous Lion

    Cecil the lion, a famous black-maned resident of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, died at the hands of an American dentist, conservationists claim. “Mr. Palmer shot Cecil with a bow and arrow but this shot didn't kill him,” Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said in…
  • Russia reassures Israel over Iran nuclear deal

    Russian President Vladimir Putin told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that the deal on Iran's nuclear program would improve security in the Middle East and guaranteed that Tehran would not acquire nuclear arms. Israel plans to lobby the U.S. Congress not to approve the…

  • Dashcam catches off-duty cop threatening to put 'hole in head' of driver

    Technically Incorrect: A Massachusetts driver makes a wrong turn. What happens next, all filmed on his dashcam, has led to an investigation. And yes, it's now on YouTube.

  • Hidden Security Cameras Are Shocking Surprise For Daughter

    DEAR ABBY: I'm a 19-year-old woman in college who still lives with my parents. I found out something several weeks ago that's bothering me, and I need advice badly. Years ago, after a robbery, my parents installed security cameras outside our house. I knew about them because they were visible. But…

    Dear Abby
  • Jon Stewart signing off 'Daily Show' fake newscast for real

    NEW YORK (AP) — After more than 16 years and nearly 2,600 telecasts, Jon Stewart can feel proud of his scads of Emmys and his pair of Peabody Awards, his cultural gravitas (he hung with the Prez, both on and off the air!), even his reprobate status at Fox News.

    Associated Press
  • Four-day week for Georgia public school district: Does it work?

    This is the second consecutive year that the school district is operating with this atypical schedule, and metrics indicate the switch has had a positive effect on the students. “It has increased our discipline, our attendance is good, teacher attendance as well," said Jeff Martin, Chattooga High…

    Christian Science Monitor50 mins ago
  • Taliban disavows Afghan peace talks after leader declared dead

    By Kay Johnson KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban's official spokesman disavowed peace talks with the Afghan government on Thursday, throwing fledgling efforts to negotiate an end to 14 years of war into disarray. The statement came a day after the Afghan government said that Mullah Omar, the elusive…

  • Police Officer Involved in Deadly Cincinnati Shooting of Samuel DuBose Indicted for Murder, Dismissed from Force

    "I'm treating him like a murderer," prosecutor Joseph Deters said during a news conference when describing the warrant out for a police officer who killed Samuel DuBose, 43, earlier this month. Footage released today from a police officer's body cam lasts about 10 minutes and shows the shooting.…

    ABC News
  • Trump leads Republicans, but Democrats thump him: poll

    Bombastic US billionaire Donald Trump handily leads all fellow Republicans in the 2016 presidential race, though Hillary Clinton and other Democrats trump him in head-to-head matchups, a poll said Thursday. Trump plunged into the crowded Republican nomination battle last month, and has since…

  • View

    Creeping vines, abandoned village (20 photos)

    Just a handful of people still live in a village on Shengshan Island east of Shanghai that was once home to more than 2,000 fishermen. Every day hundreds of tourists visit Houtouwan, making their way on narrow footpaths past tumbledown houses overtaken by vegetation. The remote village, on one of…

    Yahoo News
  • Internet mauls dentist accused of illegal kill of popular lion

    Technically Incorrect: Walter Palmer, a dentist in Minnesota, has his Yelp entry attacked by those not fond of his allegedly illegal killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.

  • Factbox: U.S. energy companies slash jobs as oil prices weaken

    Halliburton Co , which is buying Baker Hughes in a $35 billion deal, is slashing 14,000 jobs. Baker Hughes plans to cut about 13,000 jobs worldwide. Halliburton said in April it would cut 9,000 jobs, while Baker Hughes said it planned to reduce 10,500 jobs.