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<p>Hannah Johnston/Getty Images</p>

Hannah Johnston/Getty Images

Dirty Tricks Dotcom

When the most powerful lawyer in the United States, Attorney General Eric Holder, jets into New Zealand next week, he can expect to find hundreds of people attempting to film him — and set his actions to music.

Though gifted, influential and a confidant of US President, Barack Obama, US Attorney General Eric Holder doesn’t court celebrity status. He’s a reticent lawyer and father of three whose conscience has been known to overwhelm him; like the time he walked out of his office at the Justice Department and jumped on a plane to be with a Chicago family whose little boy had died on the way home from school — a victim of school bullies.

Holder will be in New Zealand to join the Quintet meeting with his four counterpart Attorneys General from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

But Kim Dotcom — the notorious Auckland-based, German-born internet entrepreneur and founder of the massive global file-sharing websites Megaupload and Mega — is working hard to ensure that Holder’s fleeting visit is neither unnoticed nor routine. Kim Dotcom is offering $500 to anyone who can capture footage of Holder in Auckland and set it to music — specifically Dotcom’s own Megaupload song.

Dotcom has a gripe with Eric Holder. It is the United States Attorney General who is leading the effort to extradite Kim Dotcom to the United States to face copyright, racketeering, money-laundering and other charges, laid out in a 72-page indictment filed by the United States government last year.

In a country as small as New Zealand, the two-metre tall Kim Dotcom creates a mammoth footprint. He was living in high luxury and relative obscurity in a fortified mansion near Auckland until January last year when the New Zealand police Special Tactics Group, clad in body armour, made a dawn descent landing helicopters on his front lawn at the request of the FBI. The raid had been timed to coincide with Dotcom’s birthday celebrations because his Megaupload partners were flying in.

The US authorities had identified Dotcom’s Megaupload as, at one point, the internet’s 13th-most popular site. The US Department of Justice saw Megaupload as a huge internet pirate vessel; it had up to 50 million visitors a day — around 4 per cent of global internet traffic — and contained a USD500 million treasure chest of pirated movies, TV shows, music, books, video games and software.

<p>Alex Wong/Getty Images</p>

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Eric Holder is leading the effort to extradite Kim Dotcom.

Millions of internet users around the world were accessing Megaupload’s contents either for free or for a small fee, and Kim Dotcom and his associates were hauling in millions from fees and advertising — all on the back of pirated material. Just how well Kim Dotcom was doing could be seen from the what the police raiders impounded: 15 Mercedes cars, two Mini Coopers, a couple of vintage Cadillacs, a Lamborghini, a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a few motorbikes. And cash — stashed in 50 bank accounts around the world.

But Kim Dotcom has not gone away. He’s launched a replacement file sharing site out of Auckland — running on computers hosted in Germany — and already that site has three million international subscribers.

But more remarkable than this, perhaps, is the damage that Kim Dotcom has done to New Zealand’s government institutions — or rather the damage they’ve inflicted on themselves in pursuing Dotcom. Prime Minister John Key, members of Parliament and the New Zealand courts have all been tarnished in the fallout over the raid, but none more so than the country’s large and determinedly obscure foreign spy agency, with the appropriately opaque name, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

The organisation employs about 300 people and operates a spy station equipped with huge satellite interception discs in a sleepy valley in New Zealand’s south. Were its operations confined just to New Zealand, then the activities of the GCSB would matter little outside the country. However the GCSB and its spy station are part of the UKUSA signals intelligence spy network, also known as the Five Eyes Agreement, operated jointly by the governments of the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Each country is assigned to collect intelligence from foreign countries — in effect spy upon — and share it with the partners in the UKUSA agreement.

New Zealand’s GCSB got dragged into the Dotcom saga when it agreed to gather intelligence about his activities and supply information to the New Zealand police prior to last year’s raid on his Auckland home. But the GCSB should never have been involved; Kim Dotcom was a New Zealand resident and it is unlawful for the GCSB to spy on New Zealand residents or citizens.

Compounding the New Zealand government’s embarrassment over the affair is the revelation — contained in the report from a government-ordered inquiry into the activities of the GCSB — that its foreign spy agency had gone rogue long before it got involved in the Kim Dotcom chase. It was shown to have a lengthy history of unlawful spying on New Zealanders and, presumably, sharing that information with its overseas spy-agency partners.

There are now bright red faces all around the New Zealand government. And the reddest of all is that of Prime Minister Key who, in the wake of the inquiry, has been forced to admit that he intervened to help get an old family friend appointed to run the GCSB.

Intelligence watchers around the world are now monitoring the Kim Dotcom affair because of its potential to cast very rare light on the internal workings of the UKUSA spy agreement. A New Zealand Court has ordered the GCSB to “confirm all entities” to which it passed information gain from its illegal spying on Kim Dotcom. New Zealand Chief High Court Judge Justice Helen Winkelmann said her order included “members of Echelon/Five Eyes and any United States authority”.

Meanwhile Dotcom’s new file-sharing site, Mega, is booming. CEO Vikram Kumar said this week they expecting users to reach six million within the next month. Kumar claims that the volume of traffic to and from Mega’s servers is equivalent to between 60 and 70 per cent of all internet traffic to and from New Zealand.

Fresh from his victories over the New Zealand government, Kim Dotcom will seek to use Eric Holder’s visit there to ramp up his campaign against his extradition to face charges in the United States.

The most wanted man on the net continues to crowdsource his defence.

16 comments on this story
by chris

So now it 's St Kim to place alongside St. Julian. Pretty pathetic.

May 5, 2013 @ 2:16pm
by Peter

The sooner he is extradited the better

May 6, 2013 @ 9:38am
by Peter

This childish attempt to get free publicity for himself by getting people to film Holder shows dotcoms all round attitude.

May 6, 2013 @ 9:42am
by John

Kim Dotcom has done nothing wrong, nor has Megaupload.
It more than complies with the USA's DMCA, even though it does not have to.
People seem to think the Kim himself, uploaded all of this copyrighted material. When in fact, when he did none of it.
In over a year since this has started: the only people found to have broken the law are the people who are helping to extradite him. and yet they are all still walking free. Kim has lost his business, all his money and a load of his possessions before anything has gone to trial.
Even if Kim turns out to be Guilty - He has has his possessions stolen from his and Stealing from a thief - is still stealing.
Someone needs to be held accountable

May 6, 2013 @ 10:35am
by Paul

Interesting........ perhaps the US AG believes that just supplying the apparatus to commit an offence is an offence in itself? At the risk of sounding topical, perhaps he can apply the same logic to the US arms industry.

May 7, 2013 @ 6:51am
by Reza

The point about the NZ spy agency exceeding its remit on this case was an interesting and valid one. But in the long run Kim dotcom is stealing income from artists and adding to commercial pressures that militate against the production of music and performance art that isnt thoroughly ordinary. He's no champion of free expression

May 13, 2013 @ 8:10pm
by Barry

Can someone explain why
Youtube are not held accountable for all the pirated material uploaded on it's site?
Oh that's right it's owned by google

May 14, 2013 @ 1:29pm
by Clive

Interesting...'the most powerful lawyer in the United States' If he's so powerful why is it that he lacks the intestinal fortitude to prosecute the real criminals in this world 'Wall St bankers'.

May 15, 2013 @ 3:41pm
by Luke

Whenever copyright material is identified on youtube an ad is placed over the top of it and all proceeds then go to the copyright holder - or if the holder disagrees with it being on youtube it is removed. Basically most artists enjoy the extra royalties from the ads and the free advertising for their albums or films which is why most music video clips remain on Youtube.

May 23, 2013 @ 2:35pm
by mck

Trying to paint Kim Dotcom as a villain or as dirty is inaccurate and naive.
Put in contrast to the tactics of the US media industries and US Federal Government it becomes laudable.

The legal case around megaupload shows an important failure, a zeitgeist, of how the offline generation fails to comes to grips with where our future is.

The other side…

July 15, 2013 @ 7:20pm
by prl

You quote very incredible sources here mck.

Simply put, Kim Dotcom is a 'fence' and should be tried in court as such. There is no recourse on Mega to have your movie, song, database or any other file removed that hasn't been put there by the owner and Kim is profiting from it.

Your defence that the US media and Federal Government are undertaking crimes or tactics which are worse is no defence.

July 17, 2013 @ 12:37pm
by Stephen H

What an incredibly misleading headline. An industry set the world's most powerful state onto MegaUpload, there has been a range of illegal activity from the US and NZ authorities, Dotcom's assets have been confiscated without even a hint of a trial, and you call him "dirty tricks Dotcom"? As for the raid itself, SWAT teams pointing guns in faces. "But we knew he had weapons". So call, and say "we're coming over, put your weapons down". The authorities wanted some nice video, and went for major overkill.

The fact that Dotcom understands publicity and is good at getting it (without putting lives in danger) doesn't make him a villain. The villains here are the entertainment "industry" (not artists, but the companies that make money from those artists), and the governments that bow down to that industry. And the fact is that the government has no case against Dotcom. If he ever appeared in anything other than a kangaroo court that would be proven - but this has never been about getting him in court, it's about bankrupting a trouble-maker.

July 29, 2013 @ 10:33am
by udi

It is clear that dot-com was exploiting certain loopholes in IP law in order to make money, but those laws have long since stopped serving the public good. Despite some powerful players contending otherwise, intellectual property is not like material property, and shouldn't be regarded as such.

This whole affair has also exposed something much more serious than copyright infringement. The willingness of authorities in several countries, to collude with private interests to increase their profits at the expense of the public.

I'm not suggesting that dot-com is lilly white but he isn't the one that betrayed the trust of people in their own government.

August 6, 2013 @ 6:39pm
Show previous 13 comments
by TechinBris

Well it seems the reality in the Western World is, that if your privileged, rich and powerful, you can break the law with impunity.
But if you are not privileged, rich and powerful, you will be destroyed if you effect the privileged, rich and powerful being profitable, by the privileged, rich and powerful, telling their bought Governments Lackeys to attack.
Trouble is the privileged, rich and powerful, have placed too many Incompetents in the Government, to stop any questions to what the privileged, rich and powerful are doing, to attack with any competence when told to, by the privileged, rich and powerful . See what happens when you dumb everything down. Even the privileged, rich and powerful, become dumb.
Guess what is wrong with this picture.

August 22, 2013 @ 2:52pm
by Think

What a strangely uninformed and biased story.
It seems the writer has not read any of the actual legal material, and most of this story seems derivative of the original hysterical mainstream press coverage.
This is a very complex story, but the main point being missed is that MegaUpload was and had always been fully compliant with copyright obligations. There were multiple systems for the RIAA/MPIAA et al. to delete material directly from the site (without even having to ask megaupload staff).
I suggest you start by reading the 48 page "Kim Dotcom whitepaper" - google for it.
The diabolical legal overreach, self contradiction and and constant illegal action by the authorities in this case are mind blowing.
Your casting of Kim Dotcom as an evil pirate mastermind is a misleading perpetuation of the original myth the authorities tried to drum up around the case.

August 26, 2013 @ 11:26pm
by The Force

Why don't the Yanks go and disappear from the world.
They are big, bad , stinking bullies.
Go and kill some more people.. Bug some more phones.
Use only free software.

November 11, 2013 @ 11:26am
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