Piracy means never having to say you’re sorry.
That might as well be the mantra of Kim Schmitz, better known as Kim Dotcom, the most flamboyant internet character this side of John McAfee.
For those who’ve missed this story so far, until about a year ago Kim Dotcom ran a wildly popular site called Megaupload from his New Zealand mansion. Megaupload allowed people to upload massive files – you know, like movies and TV shows the uploaders don’t own and don’t have the right to share. Which probably explains both the site’s wild popularity, and the Justice Department’s prosecutorial zeal.
Things were going great until local authorities raided the joint, arrested him and shut down the site on behalf of the United States, which has charged him with 13 criminal counts of conspiracy, infringement and wire fraud. The upshot of the indictment is that those uploads amounted to piracy, and Megaupload was enabling it.
But since then, things have not gone smoothly for the feds.
A New Zealand judge ruled that the police had acted illegally – executing overly broad warrants – as the U.S. Justice Department’s long arm of the law in the raid by 76 officers (that’s just three fewer bodies than the 79 Navy Seals sent to take down Osama bin Laden.) As the AFP reported at the time, Judge Helen Winkelmann ruled that “the police relied on invalid warrants when they searched the properties and seized the various items, the search and seizure was therefore illegal.”
Some researchers actually posited that total box office receipts actually went down when Megaupload was shut down. (Swallow your grain of salt as you click on the link.)