Yesterday morning, Megaupload.com founder Kim Dotcom was arrested along with 3 associates by NZ Police in Auckland , as part of a co-ordinated effort with the US Dept of Justice and the FBI, who have issued an indictment against Megaupload.com. Four FBI staff were in NZ to assist Police. The FBI has been working with our Police since August last year on this case.
The four accused appeared in North Shore district court yesterday afternoon, and were remanded in custody until Monday, when there will be a bail hearing. Kim Dotcom told the court that he has "Nothing to hide."Lawyers for the US gvot plan to oppose bail. Kim Dotcom will spend the weekend in jail. Today is his 38th birthday.
Kim Dotcom was last in the news in December, over a music video he made to promote Megaupload.com, called the Megaupload Song. Universal Music had it taken down form Youtube over alleged copyright infringement, as it featured some of their artists, but Megaupload were able to produce signed contracts with the artists involved, such as Kanye West and Will.I.Am.
NZer Gin Wigmore was chosen by Kim Dotcom to sing on the track, but after her recording session at Neil Finn's Roundhead Studio, her manager and label (Universal) refused to give permission for her inclusion, and she was replaced by Macy Gray. The vidoeo initally attracted over 2 million views. Read more on that in my previous post.
Two Police helicopters arrived at Dotcom's Coatesville mansion, but Dotcom did not want to co-operate, retreating to a safe room in the house, which Police eventually accessed - he was found near a sawn-off shotgun.
Dotcom's assets in NZ have been seized, including $10m in financial assets (this number is the same as the $10m he invested in government bonds as part of his bid to stay here). Luxury cars worth $6m were taken also, with various custom licence plates such as God, Good, Bad, Evil, Police, Stoned, Mafia, Hacker, and Guilty.
The NZ Herald reports that the "indictment accuses Mr Dotcom's Megaupload.com of costing copyright holders more than US$500 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content, and has generated more than US$175 million in criminal proceeds."
The US Dept of Justice shut down Megaupload.com and a number of associated websites, and charged Dotcom and others with "engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement."
The indictment includes emails between the accused, purportedly showing that Kim Dotcom had instructed his associates to "copy Youtube, one to one." Another email exchange stated that “we’re not pirates, we’re just providing shipping services to pirates”.
US hiphop producer Swizz Beats was listed as the company's CEO on its website in its late 2011 redesign, but according to Megaupload's lawyers, he is not officially CEO.
Following news of the arrests, the group Anonymous attacked and took down websites for the US DoJ, FBI, BMI, RIAA and Universal Music. Anonymous posted a video on the attacks to Youtube.
Megaupload.com is attempting to get back online, tho it seems unclear just how they have the funds to do that, given the extensive list of asset seizures by the US DoJ.
Read an interview with Kim Dotcom here.
Vice: We read the Megaupload papers so you don't have to.
The FBI/DoJ statement on the prosecutions.
The NZ Police statement on the arrests.
The DoJ indictment in full.
The NZ extradition treaty (PDF) with the US.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's information about extradition from NZ.
ADDED Tues Jan 24: List of other filesharing sites facing shut down by the US, after Megaupload's closedown... includes Filesonic, Mediafire... read it on Pastebin
Follow the traffic: What MegaUpload’s downfall did to the web - This is a fascinating series of graphs...
ADDED Wed Jan 25: Kim Dotcom has been denied bail, and remanded in custody (jail) til at least February 22. His lawyer is appealing the decision to the High Court.
ADDED Jan 27 MTV reports Kim Dotcom is releasing an album, produced by Printz Board.
ADDED Feb 3: Kim Dotcom's bail appeal to the High Court has been denied. He had earlier told the court he has no desire to flee New Zealand and wants to fight the charges against him "on a level playing field".
“I want to stay here, prove my innocence and get my money back,” he said. Source. It is expected he will now further his appeal.
ADDED Feb 8: Video - TV3's Campbell Live goes inside Kim Dotcoms's mansion with his bodyguard, sees panic room where he was Dotcom was hiding.
ADDED Feb 11 - Printz Board - BEP and Kim Dotcom's producer (Megaupload Song) - talks to GeorgeFMs Nick D about the case. He's been hanging with PNC and Vince Harder while in NZ.
ADDED Feb 22: Kim Dotcom has been granted bail after new evidence came to light.