The man behind “the largest online Kiwi startup” has addressed the world to launch his creation before promising to become more low key.
Indicted German billionaire Kim Dotcom addressed the world from a simple desk on a stage to launch his new file-sharing site Mega, just hours past the first anniversary of his arrest in a dawn raid.
Around 200 invited guests, including local and international media and various celebrities, were invited to the Dotcom Mansion for the event, though this audience was dwarfed by those tuning in online.
That Tiki Taane should open the proceedings – a man more recently known for his own anti-authority comments – was an ironic footnote to what was a typically over-the-top extravaganza.
A staged police raid, complete with a circling ‘FBI’ helicopter and plants in the audience, quickly turned into a dance party.
At times Dotcom’s speech felt close to a call to arms for the aggrieved internet community.
“I am convinced that the internet is the key to the betterment of mankind, yet I see several large corporations and governments practicing legal warfare through the misuse of copyrights in an attempt to take control of the internet and chill free speech,” he said.
“To those who use copyright law as a weapon to drown innovation and stifle competition; you will be left on the side of the road of history... You will not succeed with your attempts to take control of our internet.”
For Dotcom to be launching a new service 365 days after his initial arrest is noteworthy. His battle against the United States government’s efforts to extradite him is still continuing.
“The allegations against us are wrong, we are innocent and we will prevail,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the raid, we wouldn’t have Mega.”
In a signed affidavit in February 2012, Dotcom promised not to establish a MegaUpload-style file-sharing website until the completion of the extradition process.
The Motion Picture Association of America is unimpressed with his latest actions.
“We'll reserve final judgment until we have a chance to take a closer look, but given Kim Dotcom's history of damaging the consumer experience by pushing stolen, illegitimate content into the marketplace, count us as sceptical,” it said in a statement.
Should the courts rule in his favour, Dotcom says he will not consider seeking compensation from the New Zealand Government as he does not wish to harm the taxpayer. The same courtesy will not be extended to the US.
“According to the United Nations Charter of Human Rights, privacy is a basic human right. But it has become increasingly difficult to communicate privately.”
“The US government is investing billions into massive spy clouds to capture all your data and communication, completely ignoring your basic human right to privacy,” he told his captive audience. “If I’m not doing anything illegal, why is all my data being captured?”
He also claims the raid, even if legally justified, was not needed – US authorities could have arrested him on their own turf nine months later.
“We were all going to be in the United States in August, the same year of the raid, the same year all of this happened,” he said.
“We had the house booked, we had the flights booked. The FBI was checking our email so they knew that all of us [were] going to be in the United States in August but they decided to come here and do this raid and drag New Zealand into this in January.”
The PR machine Dotcom has employed over the past year has been incredibly successful – mega.co.nz gaining over half a million registered users in its first day is testament to this fact – but he says he’ll be winding down his public appearances.
“I think I have too much exposure in the New Zealand media, and I think people are getting tired of it. I am getting tired of it. I am getting tired of seeing myself in the news so I can’t imagine how a lot of New Zealanders feel.”
Dotcom also promised to rehire all workers who had lost their jobs in the seizure of megaupload.com and hopes to create new jobs for up to 100 New Zealanders.