Kim Dotcom Caught in the Web: The Most Wanted Man Online
Directed by Annie Goldson
I was extremely impressed by the high quality of Annie Goldson’s recent Kim Dotcom documentary, which showed last night on TVNZ. The video, which can’t be embedded, can be viewed at the TVNZ website: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/kim-dotcom-caught-in-the-web
Nearly six years after his January 2012 arrest, Kim Dotcom and his three co-defendants are still fighting extradition to the US on copyright infringement charges. His main legal grounds for challenging the extradition are 1) the search warrant leading to his arrest and the confiscation of his funds and property were illegal 2) as a legal resident, GCSB (New Zealand intelligence) was illegally spying on all his phone, email and Internet use and 3) New Zealand’s extradition treaty has no provision for copyright infringement, which isn’t a criminal offense under New Zealand law.
Except for the illegal spying, Dotcom’s initial court wins on these issues were overturned when the government appealed them.* Former Prime Minister John Key addressed the spying issue through a law change making it legal to spy on all New Zealand citizens and legal residents.
The first hour of the documentary, based on hours of Dotcom’s private video footage, concerns his early life in Germany as Kim Schmidt. He made his first fortune as a hacker turned security consultant and came to New Zealand with two criminal convictions on his record – for credit card fraud and insider trading.
He comes across in the film as an especially extremely arrogant, conceited, privileged and ostentatious white male, who became enormously rich (and bragged about it) when millions of users employed his cloud service (Megaupload) to illegally share copyright Hollywood films. His legal advice at the time was that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protected service providers against the illegal actions of their users. He has consistently argued that his activities were no more illegal than YouTube’s because a) he warned Megaupload users that sharing copyright material was illegal and b) like YouTube, he took down illegal files when copyright owners requested it.
His extensive legal battle has brought to light all manner of illegal activity on the part of both the US and New Zealand government, starting with a threat the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) made not to fund Obama’s 2012 campaign unless he directed the Justice Department to indict Kim Dotcom. The email correspondence between the FBI (which directed the SWAT team raid on Dotcom’s house), is also highly embarrassing, as is correspondence about the deal New Zealand Immigration made with MPAA to grant Dotcom permanent residency (despite his two criminal convictions) to facilitate his extradition to the US.
The film also briefly covers his unsuccessful effort to get into government in 2014 by collaborating with the Mana Party to form the Internet Mana Party. Some of the most dramatic footage is from an historic town hall meeting in which Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange made explosive revelations about the extent of mass surveillance on New Zealand residents.
In addition to commentary by MPAA advocates, journalists and civil liberties advocates, the documentary also includes snippets of an interview with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
*As of December 15, 2017, Dotcom’s appeal against his extradition order is ongoing: https://www.rt.com/news/413364-kim-dotcom-appeals-judge/