Who’s pulling IMP strings?

18/06/2014

Who is pulling the Internet Mana Party’s strings?

This profile of Kim Dotcom gives some answers:

Using the hacker name “Kimble”, after the character Dr Richard Kimble in The Fugitive, Dotcom claimed in German media interviews in 1992 that he had bypassed Nasa, the Pentagon and Citibank security systems, as well as hacking hundreds of private branch exchange (PBX) systems belonging to US companies and selling the access codes for $200 (£120) each.

Dotcom was arrested in 1994 for trafficking in stolen phone-calling card numbers, and eventually convicted of 11 counts of computer fraud and 10 of data espionage. He was given a two-year suspended sentence since at 20, he was still under age when the crimes were committed.

Dotcom set up premium toll chat lines in Hong Kong and the Caribbean and then used a “war dialer” software program to call the lines using the stolen card numbers, which earned him €61,000. . .

2001 Dotcom bought €375,000 in shares in a nearly bankrupt company, Letsbuyit.com, a victim of the dotcom crash. . .

Dotcom declared his intention of investing €50m in the company and the news caused the stock price of LetsBuyIt to surge. Dotcom then cashed out, making a profit of €1.5 million.

2002 In January 2002, Dotcom decided to go into exile.

TÜV Rhineland and BMP went into damage control mode and Dotcom was cut out of management in all the companies, with the authorities starting to take an interest in a loan he had taken out when he started Monkey.

“Everything that has grown up around Mr Schmitz is, to say the least, somewhat dubious,” TÜV spokesman Tobias Kerchoff told the German business site Handelsblatt.com in June 2001.

The German hacking community had also turned against him, so Dotcom decided to “flee Germany“. He ended up in Thailand but was promptly arrested and sent back to Germany, where he pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges.

2003  He was sentenced to two years’ probation and fined €100,000 in Germany. After that he moved to Hong Kong where he registered several companies – Trendax, Kimvestor Ltd, Monkey Ltd and Data Protect Ltd.

2005 Dotcom changed Data Protect to Megaupload, and he started a file-hosting website, which is where he really made his millions.

Anyone could register to have an account with Megaupload, where they could host both their own legitimate files, as well as pirated movie and music content, which could then be shared with people on forums and file-sharing websites. . .

How could Hone Harawira, Laila Harre and their fellow travellers have allowed themselves to be bought by this man?

And what will having a political party led by people who’ve been bought by the man pulling its strings do to New Zealand’s reputation as the least corrupt country in the world?

 


Money can buy a leader

01/06/2014

Money can’t buy love but it can buy the leader of a political party:

Internet Party leader Laila Harre has revealed she is being a paid back-bench MP salary as leader of the Internet Party

A backbench MP is paid $147,800, plus perks including travel and accommodation expenses plus super.

The usual remuneration for the leader of a minor party out of power is nothing.

Leaders could expect to have expenses covered or reimbursed but in any other party it’s a voluntary position.

“I have just agreed to a contract which is in line with the already public intention of the party to pay candidates the same as a backbench MP. . .

How does this fit electoral law which limits election spending?

Kim Dotcom, who made his fortune from Megaupload (for which he faces piracy, money laundering and racketeering charges), and sister sites including Megaporn and Megaerotic, has revealed he is bankrolling Internet Mana to the tune of $3 million.

Earlier, Internet Party CEO Vikram Kumar told NBR that other sources of funding paled next to the money being tipped into the campaign by one of Mr Dotcom’s family trusts. . .

This in effect means she’s not being paid by the party but by Dotcom.

If he’s paying the piper he’ll also be calling the tune.


Hollywood’s after Dotcom

09/04/2014

The news keeps getting worse for Kim Dotcom:

Seven major Hollywood movie studios have filed a massive copyright infringement lawsuit against Megaupload and its founder Kim Dotcom.

The film companies filed the legal action through the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which made the announcement this morning New Zealand time.

He is personally named in the indictment, which claims Megaupload and its key operators “facilitated, encouraged, and profited from massive copyright infringement of movies and television shows” before it was shut down in 2012. . . .

“When Megaupload.com was shut down in 2012 by US law enforcement, it was by all estimates the largest and most active infringing website targeting creative content in the world,” MPAA global general counsel Steven Fabrizio said in a statement.

“Infringing content on Megaupload.com and its affiliates was available in at least 20 languages, targeting a broad global audience. According to the government’s indictment, the site reported more than US$175 million in criminal proceeds and cost US copyright owners more than half a billion dollars.”

The companies are seeking profits and maximum statutory damages.

Megaupload was built on an incentive system which rewarded users for uploading the most popular content on the site, “which was almost always stolen movies, TV shows and other commercial entertainment content”, Mr Fabrizio continued.

“Megaupload wasn’t a cloud storage service at all, it was an unlawful hub for mass distribution.

“To be clear, if a user uploaded his term paper to store it, he got nothing … But if that same user uploaded a stolen full-length film that was repeatedly infringed, he was paid for his efforts.

“That’s not a storage facility; that’s a business model designed to encourage theft – and make its owners very rich in the process.

“There’s nothing new or innovative about that. That’s just a profiteer using existing technology to try to get rich off of someone else’s hard work.” . . .

Breach of copyright is theft.

The suit doesn’t mean he’s guilty but it does add to a picture which is becoming increasingly murky.

 


Copyright breach is theft

29/10/2013

The media’s fascination with Kim Dotcom has irritated me.

He seems to hae been given a lot more attention and treated far more sympathetically than he deserves.

It will be interesting to see if they’re a little less enamoured with him after this news:

The Publisher’s Association has expressed disappointment that links to author Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize winning novel The Luminaries have been made available for free download by a New Zealand registered company.

The novel was discovered on Kim Dotcom’s file-sharing website MEGA yesterday.

“Everyone is rightly proud of the achievements of Eleanor Catton on the world stage so to see her work given away without her consent by a fellow Kiwi company is really appalling,” Publishers Association of New Zealand president Sam Elworthy says.

“We should be doing all we can to support the good work of not only these two artists but also every New Zealander who makes an honest living from his or her creative works.

“MEGA should do more to ensure this kind of thing does not occur.”

Victoria University Press spokesman Fergus Barrowman, which publishes Catton’s novel The Luminaries, said the fact a creative work was easy accessible for free over the internet did not make it right to do so.

“We live in a digital age and authors and publishers recognise the changing nature of how readers want to access material. We made sure that The Luminaries was available as an ebook to New Zealand readers in a timely and accessible way, and we are delighted so many of them have taken advantage of this.

“We are not surprised to be told that there are also illegal sources, but are nevertheless very disappointed,” Barrowman says.

Elworthy says the discovery of Catton’s work on a site such as MEGA was the “tip of the iceberg”.

“Just a few weeks ago we had to ask MEGA to take down an entire educational textbook written by a New Zealand author and which had been made available on their site. This type of illegal sharing is happening at an alarming rate and really hurting New Zealand creatives.

“New Zealand books and music are enjoying enormous success right now. We’re getting creative work out to millions in all sorts of formats all around the world. But while Eleanor Catton is doing big things for our international reputation, it’s disappointing to see her being ripped off by a website which calls itself a New Zealand company,” Elworthy says.

Kim Dotcom is fighting extradition to the United States on copyright and racketeering charges over the operation of his previous file locker site Megaupload.

It’s difficult to make a living from creative endeavours anywhere, harder still in New Zealand where there’s such a small market.

The Man Booker win will have exposed Catton’s work to a much bigger audience but thanks to the free downloads she won’t be getting all the money she’s earned from it.

Beach of copyright, illegal sharing, call it what you will, it’s theft of intellectual property.


Mega hurdle for mega wannabe MP

02/09/2013

Another man with an over-inflated view of his own importance is considering standing for parliament.

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom appears poised to run for parliament.  

The German millionaire, who is fighting extradition to the United States where he faces copyright charges, took to Twitter today to acknowledge his plans to enter politics. 

“My embryonic NZ political plans leaked by whistleblower. Still looking for partners. Not ready yet,” Dotcom tweeted. . .

But Keeping Stock points out there is a mega hurdle for the mega wannabe MP – he’s not a citizen.

Residents can vote but only citizens can stand for parliament.

1.2          Candidate eligibility

To be a candidate you must:

  • be enrolled as a voter,
  • be a New Zealand citizen, and
  • not be disqualified from enrolling.

There’s another hurdle too:

The main grounds of disqualification for enrolment that could affect eligibility to be a candidate are:

  • the person is a New Zealand citizen who is outside New Zealand and has not been in New Zealand within the last three years,
  • the person has been sentenced to imprisonment.

Dotcom received a suspended prison sentence.

The very capable PR people Dotcom employs probably wouldn’t be bothered by electoral law in their quest for publicity but you’d think a journalist might do some basic cheques checks on eligibility before publishing the story.

Update – A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Graeme Edgeler has corrected me – overseas convictions don’t count and NZ ones only count while the sentence is being served.


Tapering off

16/10/2012

Last week TV3 was happy to give David Shearer air time with his claims Prime Minister John Key was taped speaking to the GCSB.

This week the channel’s enthusiasm for Shearer’s point of view is tapering off as it asks has Shearer’s GCSB claim backfired?:

Labour leader David Shearer says his party has “asked the question” of the Prime Minister, by claiming that Mr Key was recorded mentioning Kim Dotcom at the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) before the date Mr Key says he first knew about the man behind Megaupload.

But an increasingly stressed Mr Shearer now faces serious questions himself.

The central one is: was a recording actually made? Did the GCSB tape ever actually exist?

There is no evidence that it does or ever did and Shearer’s colleagues aren’t rushing to support their leader.

Quote of the day on that goes to Shane Jones:

“I’ve had a guts full in my career of talking about video tapes – believe you me,” says Shane Jones.

His leader might well be sharing those feelings.

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