In these wild days of internet piracy run rampant, sometimes even governments can't stop the buccaneers. A case in point is beleaguered web baron Kim Dotcom, who, despite being under New Zealand house arrest, today posted a teaser for his new music platform "Megabox" on Youtube.
This announcement comes on the heels of Dotcom's Saturday statement, where he claimed that a reboot of controversial file-hosting site MegaUpload was nearly complete. "Quick update on the new Mega: Code 90% done. Servers on the way. Lawyers, Partners & Investors ready. Be patient. It's coming," read the tweet.
That's right: On Saturday, Dotcom announced he was relaunching a new version of the very site that less than a year ago got him slammed with charges of money laundering, racketeering and criminal copyright infringement. And now he's started teasing another site, a music platform he says will give artists "full control over their own work and a healthy revenue stream" while taking down the "dinosaur record labels" he claims were behind his arrest.
Dotcom has previously announced that he planned to resurrect MegaUpload and bring MegaBox to life, but the speed with which the projects have apparently progressed, after the U.S. Department of Justice seized most of Dotcom's assets in January, is startling.
To do justice to the overwhelming audacity of what's just happened, let's step back a bit and put a rebooted Mega-Empire in context. Dotcom (yes, he legally changed his last name from "Schmitz" to "Dotcom") founded MegaUpload in 2005 as a one-click filesharing and hosting service. By 2012, the site allegedly accounted for four percent of all internet traffic, and had been classified as a pirate-heavy "rogue website" by the MPAA, RIAA, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. On January 19th, 2012, Megaupload, was taken down by the U.S. Department of Justice.
One day later came the the spectacular arrest of the site's founder and members of the his team. According to defense attorneys, officers arrived at the sprawling Dotcom estate by helicopter and cut their way into the home's safe room to retrieve Dotcom, who had barricaded himself inside and was allegedly found with a sawed-off shotgun nearby.
Dotcom was held in custody of the New Zealand Police for 33 days and charged with "engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement." In those 33 days, Dotcom was variously threatened with extradition to the United States, questioned for possessing various concealed passports, refused bail on the grounds that he had a helicopter in his backyard, and finally put under house arrest with no access to the Internet, according to the New Zealand Herald. That final condition was reversed on April 3, after New Zealand Judge David Harvey found Dotcom's behavior since his January arrest to be "exemplary."
But Dotcom's latest projects might draw new legal scrutiny.
In the past several months, Dotcom has been branded as both Internet-created hero and villain, with much made of his penchant for customized sports cars, home movies and, most recently, a self-recorded anti-government single in which the founder compares himself to Martin Luther King. Soon after MegaUpload went offline, angry hackers retaliated by taking down multiple websites owned by the MPAA, RIAA, Department of Justice and Universal Music.
Taking to his Twitter account, Dotcom has commented on the effects of the publicity blast: "I'm now a real life James Bond villain in a real life political copyright thriller scripted by Hollywood & the White House."
Post-bail, Dotcom has lived large, releasing recording studio videos of himself singing love songs and anti-Obama polemics. Meanwhile, he and his wife Mona are attempting to retrieve most of their police-seized personal property from the New Zealand government.
Dotcom has also been involved in an EFF-led effort to retrieve user data that was lost in the original site's shutdown. He has apparently been delighted to find that many MegaUpload accounts were used by U.S. government officials.
But the U.S. will have a harder time sharing in MegaUpload's newest incarnation. Taking a swing at his would-be extraditers, Dotcom says that only "non-US hosters" will be able to connect to MegaUpload bandwidth, reports Torrent Freak.
As publicity around the new site swells, the New Zealand government has admitted that its Government Communications Security Bureau had spied illegally on Dotcom, and even court battles are swinging MegaUpload's way (Dotcom responded to this newest government announcement by hinting that he might sue the GCSB). With frequent reporting of Dotcom's declarations that the next Mega-services will "turn this world upside down", the U.S. Department of Justice certainly seems to have its hands full trying shut down this particular "Bond villain."
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