While their billionaire founder has made efforts to move on and start anew, his past still well and truly lingers over him, after the American Department of Justice published a report on the history of former file sharing service Megaupload.
The platform owned by Kim Dotcom (who now runs a more ‘legal’ operation called Mega from his home in New Zealand) until a forced shut-down in January 2012 is accused in the 191-page report of ‘knowingly engaging in copyright infringement’.
Amongst the evidence compiled includes alleged e-mail excerpts from within Kim Dotcom’s team of staff that showed the true internal nature of the brand, one of which being an exchange of the message: “…We do have legit users,” with a reply of, “…Yes, but that’s not what we make $ with :)”.
At the top of the chain, Dotcom is believed to have received over 280,000 between 2007-2011 regarding the removal of content such as music, TV shows, and films (amongst others) that were thought to have infringed copyright in the period in question, whilst further statistics suggested that 43% of Megavideo views (an estimated total of 15 billion streams) were tied to content with at least one ‘taken-down notice’ in its history. The proportion of videos to have received such requests (in alleged accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) was 12.8% of all individual videos viewed.
The act in question would be able to protect Dotcom and his co-defendants from prosecution in this aspect of the planned case in the USA (to which Dotcom is still fighting extradition), but only on the condition that they can prove genuine unawareness of any copyright infringement – a tough task with the DoJ’s gradually-compiled evidence.
The group known as the ‘Mega Conspiracy’ are claimed to have made over $150 million worth of revenues through their ‘premium membership sign-ups’ on Megaupload, with the site also claiming $25 million of advertising income from the use of free members, as the report summarises: “At all times relevant to the charges presented in the Superseding Indictment, the defendants and other members of the Mega Conspiracy knew that they did not have license, permission, authorisation, or other authority from owners of hundreds of thousands of copyrighted works to reproduce and distribute those works, including making them available over the Internet.”
With the case set to hang in the air a while yet, the Mega Conspiracy camp are naturally firmly placed on the opposite side of the argument, according to Dotcom’s lawyer Ira Rothken, who has stated of the ‘meritless criminal allegations’ in the report: “The allegations seem to revolve around Megaupload’s discussed policies related to user infringements, take-downs and things like reward programmes. All those things are civil in nature and can never be considered criminal in the United States.”