There’s a great interview here by Kim Dotcom, the founder of Megaupload who was arrested by New Zealand at the order of FBI goons recently.
It’s funny to hear him actually speak in eloquent English, given the American media’s (most of which is owned by prominent members of the same organizations that have been so eagerly pushing for oppressive anti-piracy measures) attempt to portray him as a “flamboyant” weirdo outlaw type. Of course, the fact that his name is reminiscent of “Kim Jong-Il” probably doesn’t help either.
And the fact is, its hard to see why the reaction was so severe against Megaupload. When it was operational, I always considered Megaupload to be a place to get both legitimate and illegitimate files. I also noticed that Megaupload not infrequently took files down for copyright infringement. The only movies you could get on Megavideo were old movies that you probably would have some trouble finding a legitimate copy of. I can’t recall finding a recent movie on any Mega-whatever service.
And he’s also correct that there are many other services that do the same thing – Mediafire, Rapidshare, and Filesonic were all virtually synonymous with Megaupload at the time the arrest occurred, but they are not in trouble. Why?
I think the reason has to be Kim Dotcom himself. He’s not a sympathetic guy – he’s ostentatious, he has a strange self-chosen name, and he lives in a far away land that, while not actually a good place to hide out, might appear that way to idiots. It’s easy to create the perception that he got rich off piracy and knew he was doing something illegal, although that perception would be absolutely false.
The big point he makes, which is absolutely valid, is that this should be happening in the civil courts. This sort of thing has NEVER been a criminal issue before. It is so very rare for someone to be arrested for running a business that doesn’t involve killing people. I can’t remember any other case of someone being arrested for running a website or for media piracy of any sort.
Now, to acknowledge the elephant in the room, Megaupload certainly knew there were some who were using its services for barely illegal activity. But at the end of the day, the #1 complaint against Megaupload was that it’s take-down system was insufficient because it only removed the specific file requested to be taken down rather than each copy of the same. The fact that that sort of thing gets you arrested, considered a flight risk, and prohibited from using the internet while you await a trial on flimsy charges shows just how much power the largest corporations have gained over American and international governments.