Who he is: Kim Dotcom is a huge man with an outsized personality. His latest claim to fame comes from his arrest as an owner and chief executive officer of Megaupload. Megaupload was a cloud-driven Internet facility that Dotcom founded which allowed users to store any number of files in cyber files that they could lock and unlock with cyber keys.
Megaupload proved quite successful, eventually comprising some four percent or more of all Internet traffic. As a result, Dotcom grew wealthier than ever with a fortune estimated at some US$200 million. There is no telling how wealthy Dotcom would have become as a result of Megaupload but that is a moot question now.
In January of 2012, authorities raided Dotcom's New Zealand mansion, shut down Megaupload and arrested and briefly jailed Kim Dotcom.
The charge was facilitating copyright infringement. The accusation was that Dotcom's Megaupload had knowingly and willingly allowed users to store movies and other material in their lockers. This was seen as a way of facilitating theft as people didn't have to download anything to their own computers and could use Megaupload's facilities with a modicum of anonymity.
Since the shutdown of Megaupload, Dotcom has fought back. He's announced a new music sharing facility and has written and posted several well received pop songs about his plight. More notably he's won several court skirmishes regarding his arrest.
New Zealand courts have ruled the raid itself was illegal and so was the confiscation of Megaupload's servers. Some of Dotcom's assets have been unfrozen and he has been allowed to return to his mansion and live with his family. The US still wants Dotcom extradited to face charges but whether this occurs is unclear, especially given the apparent lawlessness with which the initial raid was conducted. The case could drag on for additional months or even years.
Ultimately, the case is not really about Dotcom but about copyright and how it conflicts with the ease of use afforded by the Internet when it comes to proprietary information and entertainment. In an age of information plenty, the ability of creators to legally assure their material is only used under certain circumstances is increasingly suspect.
This brings up the idea of natural law and whether or not the state itself can make effective laws when reality is undermining those same proclamations. While natural law was greatly respected even in the recent past, modernity has seen the legal code simply defined by state fiat.
When it comes to copyright specifically, technology increasingly seems to be undermining state insistence regarding the use digitized information. Kim Dotcom himself has pointed this out and has urged Hollywood officials in particular to rethink their approach to copyright.
What is ironic is that Kim Dotcom is paying a price in terms of money and freedom for an argument that he is probably on the right side of. Progress has a way of undermining even the most stringently enforced legislation when these two forces collide.
Background: Kim Dotcom was born in 1974 in Germany and his given name is Kim Schmitz. He is famous as an Internet entrepreneur and founder of the now defunct Megaupload that made him a multimillionaire. He started a company called Mega in January 2013.
Kim Dotcom's first brush with fame and fortune came as a teenage Internet tycoon, though he was later found guilty of insider trading and embezzlement. His latest brush with the law came in January 2012, when the New Zealand police arrested him due to US charges of criminal copyright infringement concerning Megaupload.
Dotcom was accused of costing the entertainment industry $500 million by allowing users to place illegal content in Megaupload servers. Dotcom has since pointed out that Megaupload could not be responsible for the actions of all of its users and had put in place procedures that removed questionable content.
The Internet entrepreneur remains in New Zealand fighting the charges against him and also fighting extradition to the US to face trial. Dotcom is married and has five children.