“Bit by bit, it’s a hit, it’s a hit!” cackles the six-foot seven, 300-pound Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (formerly Schmitz) in the controversial Megaupload Mega song. Now after a FBI raid of his home (the most expensive residence in New Zealand) and a seizure of Megaupload servers, domains, and properties, Doctom sits in a New Zealand jail awaiting trial this coming Monday, January 23rd.
Dotcom was born in Kiel, Germany where as a kid he hacked computers, stole software, and sold the goods from all his endeavors to friends. In 1994, 20 cops raided Dotcom’s residence where they confiscated over $80,000 in computer equipment and arrested him for selling stolen credit cards. 1998 rolled around and Dotcom was convicted, in Germany, of fraud and embezzlement. Come 2001, Dotcom was involved in the biggest insider trading disaster in German history. Dotcom purchased an obscene quantity of shares in a near defunct company, LetsBuyIt.com, then told the public he planed to invest upwards of $100 million into LetsBuyIt.com. Overnight, the stock of the company rose 300% and Dotcom made out with $1.5 million.
Post 9/11, Dotcom assembled and launched an initiative called the Young Intelligent Hackers Against Terrorism (YIHAT) and offered a $10 million reward for the capture of Osama Bin Laden. To further his efforts against terrorism, he started a website called Kill.net to recruit counter-terrorist hackers. He said his purpose was clear and there was “little room for misspelling.”
But 2001 wasn’t just for counter-terrorism, Dotcom took his passion for over-priced, fast, and pimped out cars to an extreme when he formed the company Megacar. The group sold one car, the Megacar, which was a S-class Mercedes containing 16 phone lines, four TVs, a wireless computer and, notably, a DVD player.
At the request of the German embassy, Dotcom was arrested in Bangkok for the insider trading fiasco. In protest, he used his web platform to publicly threaten suicide on his birthday, also demanding that he be thereafter referred to as “His Royal Highness King Kimble the First, Ruler of the Kimpire.” He was extradited to Germany and detained.
Dotcom competed in the Gumball 3000, a super-velocity car race around Paris, in 2005, where he made a wager with two female drivers of half a million pounds if they beat him, and a threesome if he won. Videos of Dotcom racing at 200 mph can be found on YouTube.
Later in 2005, Dotcom launched the nefarious Hong-Kong based Megaupload which capitalized on low data storage prices to offer up a “cyberlocker” for users to store their information and rich media files on the web. Megaupload quickly rose to become the most popular of services offering similar functionality. Dotcom offered at one point that Megaupload accounted for 4% of all online traffic—after shutting down, it accounted for 0.98% of US traffic and 11% of all web traffic in Brazil.
The Megaupload premise isn’t bad, it was the content of the cyberlockers that made Megaupload and Kim Dotcom hated by copyright agencies across the globe. Millions of people use Megaupload servers to store unauthorized TV shows, films, music, software, and porn—all of this content netted Megaupload over $175 million from selling ads and premium memberships since its launch in 2005.
As of January 19th, Megaupload is silent. Seven people connected with the site are being charged with running an international pirate enterprise. Four of the seven have been arrested; the other three are still at large.
When the police arrived at the Dotcom Mansion in two helicopters, they found the Ruler of the Kimpire locked into a safe room clutching a sawed-off shotgun. The police confiscated over $4.8 million in luxury cars with license plates reading GOD, POLICE, HACKER, V, MAFIA, STONED, and GUILTY among others.
The treacherous bowels of the Internet offered a response to the FBI takedown. Hacker wünder-group Anonymous levied their full might and took down, for a short period of time, the websites of the Justice Department, MPAA, RIAA, Universial Music Group and BMI.
(Geek Speak: For clarity’s sake, Anonymous actually initiated a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack entitled Low Orbit Ion Cannon, or LOIC as coined by the 4Chan hackers who designed it. The LOIC attack allows anyone who downloads—or even just clicks and unknowingly downloads—a file to instantly transform their Internet connection into a firehose, or Ion Cannon, of electro-debris aimed at specific servers. When orchestrated en masse, the specific servers become so inundated with nonsense requests that they go offline without logging the sources of the attacks, essentially leaving the perpetrators ANONYMOUS.)
There is no question that Kim Dotcom entirely deserves the accusations and potential 20 years in prison he could be facing. Megaupload is undoubtedly a corrupt site that only remained in existence as long as it did due to its ambiguous roots and ubiquitous presence. There has been an avalanche of individuals coming forward in defense of the site, complaining that they used Megaupload to store legitimate data to which they owned full rights. It seems for the time being, and the foreseeable future that their content is gone.
The FBI takedown of Megaupload makes a significant case for those who believe acts such as SOPA and PIPA go too far. Under the current copyright laws, this seizure was possible.
Since the arrests, another cyberlocker site, FileSonic has disabled itself and Uploaded.to has blocked access from all US users.
The trials are just about underway. In time we will see just how slippery a slope Kim Dotcom, glorious bastard of the universe, stands upon.