Members of Anonymous have been huge supporters of Kim Dotcom since the feds took down Megaupload in early 2012. The collective even engaged one of its largest operations to date in defense of the site. Now the same group is calling Dotcom a “snitch.” What happened to bring about this sudden change?
For those who have been following the legal fight between Megaupload and the DoJ in the U.S., you would know that Megaupload thinks the U.S. set them up. In 2010, the feds asked Dotcom to keep some files on their servers to help in a separate IP investigation. Dotcom consented and kept the files while the fed went about its work. Dotcom accuses the feds of using those same files later as evidence when shutting down Megaupload in 2012.
Now, this is where things get interesting. Wired reported last November on some case files that had been unsealed in the case that found those files that Dotcom held onto were used in the investigation and eventual conviction of the founders of NinjaVideo, a video streaming site that piggybacked off of Megaupload’s Megavideo service.
Disregarding the fact that the Wired report is over three months old, Anonymous has now come to the conclusion that Dotcom is a traitor to the cause. Here’s a snippet of the press release:
In the Wired article, it outlines that in June of 2010, Dotcom agreed to keep secret a warrant by the DHS HSI IPR Center of Carpathia hosting, and was told by HSI that he was not target of the investigation, which he had in fact been a target of since January of 2010. Dotcom “cooperated” in the “spirit” of “being a good corporate citizen”, which apparently means ratting small fish out so the the top dog can stay king. Kim Dotcom thinks he can play both pirate and “good corporate citizen” at the same time, but one cannot be both.
Kim Dotcom broke the pirate code. He is a snitch, and needs to be exposed to the world as such. Hana Beshara, “Queen Phara”, has been sitting in FPC Bryan in Texas for the past year awaiting release this August because Kim willingly cooperated with this investigation, thinking he would be building a rapport with the IPR fanatics at DHS. Matthew David Howard Smith, aka (Dead1ine), founder of NinjaVideo, will be released from Butner Penitentiary in North Carolina this April.
Let’s just look into how ridiculous this is. Never once has Dotcom ever claimed to be a pirate or fighting for pirate rights. He believes in a free Internet for sure, and he thinks that Hollywood should update its business model to reflect changes brought about by the digital age. That being said, he never once said content should be free, and is in fact working on legitimate business models where artists get paid more for their work directly from fans (see Megabox) instead of through labels.
The problem here lies in what Anonymous wanted Dotcom to be, and who Dotcom really is. Anonymous thought he was the next great pirate martyr fighting for the free flow of information, and Dotcom is that to an extent. He’s well loved by Internet groups because he’s fighting against what he feels is an abuse of power by the IP lobby and media industries. What Anonymous didn’t see or just refused to acknowledge is that Dotcom is also a businessman. He’s trying to make a profit even if his methods challenge the status quo and land him in trouble.
Both sides have compelling arguments in this admittedly one-sided fight as Dotcom has so far refused to acknowledge Anonymous’ accusations. Dotcom’s U.S. lawyer Ira Rothken said that Megaupload was only being a “good corporate citizen” by handing over the data. Anonymous says that Dotcom was selling out a fellow ally in the fight against aggressive IP rights protection.
An individual’s stance in this new fight will be decided by how they feel about Dotcom and the Megaupload case. Many feel that he’s only in this to save his own ass, and is using his current trial as a publicity stunt to build up hype for his new services like Mega and Megabox. Others feel that he is fighting for reform and Internet freedom. I don’t think this particular revelation about his involvement in NinjaVideo is going to change many peoples’ perception of him. You either already didn’t like the man, or you think he’s just doing his best to make good out of a nasty situation.