Dotcom promises 'interesting facts' in legal struggle
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom said that "interesting facts" will emerge in his ongoing pitched battle against extradition to the United States over copyright infringement.
Speaking via Skype video link from New Zealand to the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, Dotcom promised "a really cool (court) hearing" in April focusing on evidence surrounding the January 2012 raid on his Auckland home.
"There will be interesting facts revealed," said the flamboyant German-born entrepreneur and former teenage hacker whom the US Justice Department accuses of criminal copyright infringement on top of several conspiracy charges.
Dotcom reiterated his belief that his case—which shut down the Megaupload file storage site, causing 66.6 million users worldwide to suddenly lose the data they'd uploaded—was politically driven.
"Get the popcorn ready," said Dotcom, 39, appearing like a cheerful ghostly face against a pitch-black background on a giant projection screen, "because you won't believe what these guys did."
And he predicted ultimate victory in a case that has captivated the online world. "I will never be in a prison in the United States," he said to applause from his SXSW audience. "I can guarantee you that."
US authorities allege Dotcom's Megaupload and related file-sharing sites netted more than $175 million and cost copyright owners more than $500 million by offering pirated copies of movies, TV shows and other content.
"This action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States," the US Justice Department has said.
Dotcom, a German national who changed his name from Kim Schmitz, faces an extradition hearing in August. Until then, his passport has been seized and he cannot travel out of the country.
Last week an appeal court in New Zealand upheld Dotcom's right to sue New Zealand's foreign intelligence agency for illegally spying on him as part of a US probe into alleged online piracy.
Dotcom said Monday that before it was shut down, Megaupload had 50 million users a day who uploaded files to its servers in return for a unique Internet link that they could share any way they like.
He repeated his opinion that the case against him is political, rather than legal, emanating from the financial support President Barack Obama got from the multinational Hollywood film industry during his winning election campaigns.
"This is very important," he said, arguing that a crackdown on Megaupload was Washington's "plan B" after the Obama administration, in the face of public protests, abandoned the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
He also suggested New Zealand's willingness to help Washington target Megaupload was greased by the decision to make the popular "The Lord of the Rings" films on its soil, resulting in a lucrative influx of film production revenue.
Pending his extradition hearing, Dotcom—who last month launched a new cloud storage and file-sharing service, simply called Mega, and now is working on an online music service—said he is leading a "pretty relaxed" life.
"My biggest luxury, you'd be surprised, is sleep," he said, adding: "I miss Germany. I miss my mom and I hope I can visit her soon."
File-sharing is a major theme at the ongoing SXSW interactive, film and music festival, with several panels tackling the topic and two documentaries—one on Napster, the other about The Pirate Bay—being shown on the big screen.
(c) 2013 AFP