Megaupload.com founder Kim Dotcom said he will fight U.S. charges that he orchestrated the country’s biggest copyright infringement conspiracy.
“I’m no piracy king, ” Dotcom said in an interview with New Zealand’s TV3 today. “I offered online storage and bandwidth to users and that’s it. I am a fighter and I am going to fight this thing.”
Dotcom, 38, was indicted in what U.S. prosecutors dubbed a “Mega Conspiracy,” accusing his file-sharing website of generating more than $175 million in criminal proceeds from the exchange of pirated film, music, book and software files. He faces as long as 20 years in prison for each of the racketeering and money laundering charges in the indictment.
High Court Justice Timothy Brewer yesterday ruled Dotcom can remain out of jail on bail pending an extradition hearing, rejecting an appeal by New Zealand prosecutors. The prosecutors were acting at the request of the U.S. to keep Dotcom in prison until the extradition hearing, currently scheduled for Aug. 20.
“Why would I leave after everything has been frozen, everything has been taken from me,” Dotcom said. “The company that was worth probably a billion-dollars-plus has been given a death sentence without trial, you know, what point is there for me to run away?”
In a revised indictment filed in a U.S. court in Alexandria, Virginia, on Feb. 17, Dotcom was also charged with three new criminal copyright counts and five new wire-fraud counts.
The conspiracy deprived copyright owners of more than $500 million, the U.S. government said.
Dotcom, who legally changed his family name from Schmitz, has denied any criminal misconduct.
Megaupload advertised that it had more than 1 billion visits to the site, more than 150 million registered users and 50 million daily visitors, and accounted for 4 percent of Internet traffic, prosecutors said. The site was shut down by the U.S. Justice Department and now shows an FBI anti-piracy warning, saying the domain name has been seized pursuant to a U.S. court order.
“Everybody knows that the internet is being used for legitimate and illegitimate uses,” Dotcom said. “Every online service provider has the same challenges that we have.”
“I create a website that is popular and that people want to use and have used for a lot of legitimate uses and it is just completely bizarre how I am being put on a pedestal like this and pointed at like the over-pirate of the planet. It’s insane.”
The New Zealand case is Kim Dotcom v. United States of America. DCNSD [25 January 2012]. District Court at North Shore (Albany).
To contact the reporter on this story: Jason Scott in Canberra at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at firstname.lastname@example.org.Kim Dotcom, founder of Megaupload.com, left, speaks to the media as he and his wife leave the high court in Auckland, New Zealand, on Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012. Photographer Brendon O'Hagan/Bloomberg