German internet entrepreneur and MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom has a few words for the authorities: he's looking for a fight.
That's the tone he set in a recent interview with the Guardian, where the internet multi-millionaire addressed the ongoing case filed by New Zealand and American authorities against him. Dotcom has won a series of legal battles against New Zealand prosecutors seeking Dotcom's extradition to the United States on criminal copyright charges — which would land him in jail for the rest of his life, if found guilty.
Dotcom's MegaUpload site, which allows users to upload and share files, once reportedly garnered around 4% of total web traffic, and according to prosecutors, also formed the backbone of a massive international piracy ring which generated hundreds of millions of dollars in profit for him and his co-owners. Dotcom moved to New Zealand years ago in a deliberate attempt to evade U.S. prosecution, and has been fighting prosecutors who seek to hand him over to American authorities for the past year.
His interview comes just days before his planned launch party Sunday of a new site, Mega, which is a "super-encrypted" successor to the now-defunct MegaUpload site. The Guardian says "it is hard not to see the extravagant unveiling of the new site as a two-finger gesture aimed at U.S. authorities."
A year ago, two helicopters and 76 heavily armed police officers stormed his New Zealand residence in a manner more akin to a drug bust than a copyright infringement investigation. A terrified Dotcom reportedly retreated further into his $30 million compound and "activated a number of electronic locking mechanisms." When police disabled those, he entered his safe room and refused to exit; officers then cut into it. He was found near a weapon with the "appearance" of a short-barreled shotgun.
New Zealand police claim they clearly identified themselves during the raid; over $17 million in assets were seized, including 18 luxury cars, gigantic high-definition televisions and many works of art. Dotcom's 64 bank accounts were frozen, denying him access to $175 million in cash.
Prior to the raid, Dotcom was indicted by a U.S. court in Virginia for charges relating to alleged violations of anti-piracy laws worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Dotcom claims the case is a politically motivated prosecution. He says veteran former Senator and current MPAA lobbyist Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) convinced Vice President Joe Biden that Hollywood would not support the president unless he moved on piracy crackdowns after the failure of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in early 2012.
"It would probably have looked very bleak for [Obama] to go to Hollywood and ask them to help him get re-elected when he couldn't make SOPA happen for them. So Megaupload became a plan B," Dotcom says.
Still, he claims, the launch of Mega is not revenge.
"We want to show the world that we are innovators. We want to show the world that cloud storage has a right to exist. And, of course, when you launch something like this, you can expect some controversy. The content industry is going to react really emotionally about this. The US government will probably try and destroy the new business … you've got to stand up against that, and fight that, and I'm doing that … I will not allow them to chill me."
Dotcom also expressed some regret that the haltering New Zealand prosecution may never go to trial, depriving him of a chance to validate himself in a court of law. "We want to expose what has happened here. We have a lot of information that shows the political interference. We feel that what happened here was manufactured to destroy Megaupload, and we want to show that."