Kim Dotcom, who was arrested in 2012 in a high-profile raid on his New Zealand compound for Internet piracy, tells “60 Minutes” on Sunday that he was targeted because he was “the easiest person to sell as a villain.”
With a sprawling mansion outside of Auckland, a German heritage and a company, Megaupload, that had a worldwide presence, Dotcom is at the center of an effort by U.S. law enforcement to extradite him to the United States, where he faces charges that he ran a “worldwide criminal enterprise” to reproduce and distribute infringing copies of movies, TV shows and other copyrighted material.
Dotcom, a.k.a. Kim Schmitz and Kim Tim Jim Vestor, said he is the “perfect target” of the government, like a character out of James Bond with a flamboyant lifestyle. but he denies the charges and told “60 Minutes” that he shouldn’t be held responsible for what users chose to do on his site. “Do I have to go to jail for that? because I didn’t do it. I didn’t upload those things to Megaupload,” he said, according to a press release from CBS.
On Dec. 20, Variety reported that the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed evidence in its case against Megaupload and the website’s principals that included email excerpts they say showed they knowingly engaged in copyright infringement on a massive scale in order to make money.
According to the DOJ’s evidence, between at least June 2007 and December 2011, Dotcom received more than 280,000 e-mails with copyright-infringement alerts and other takedown notices. In 2009, in response to an email from a Megaupload employee that Warner Bros. was requesting removal of 2,500 files per day, Dotcom responded that the limit should be increased to 5,000 per day — but “not unlimited,” which the government argued shows the Megaupload conspiracy arbitrarily limited the ability of copyright owners to remove infringing content.
In another email exchange, a Megaupload staffer wrote that “we do have legit users,” to which another responded, “yes, but that’s not what we make $ with :).” And, during a Skype session in September 2007, a programmer said to Megaupload’s CTO, “We’re modern pirates.”
Megaupload’s attorney, Ira Rothken, said that the government’s unsealed evidence was “191 pages of meritless criminal allegations.”
Dotcom and other defendants face an extradition hearing on July 7.
As of Jan. 5, 2012, Megaupload.com publicly claimed to have had more than 180 million registered users to date and an average of 50 million daily visits, accounting for 4% of the total traffic on the Internet.