Megaupload boss fights back
WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Megaupload boss Kim Dotcom has revived plans to launch a new online music venture this year. He hinted at the return of the file-sharing site that led him to face online piracy charges.
Dotcom's original plans for the music service Megabox were disrupted in January when New Zealand police raided his Auckland mansion and arrested him as part of a major US investigation into alleged copyright theft.
The 38-year-old is now free on bail. He took to Twitter this week to say that Megabox is back on the drawing board and will launch in 2012.
"Yes... Megabox is coming this year," he told his 110,000 followers on the micro-blogging site.
In a tweet earlier this week, he said: "I know what you are all waiting for. It's coming. This year. Promise. Bigger. Better. Faster. 100% Safe & Unstoppable."
It was unclear whether this tweet referred to Megabox or Megaupload, the file-sharing site that was the cornerstone of his Internet empire before it was shut down as part of the US investigation.
The German national has refused interview requests saying he wants to keep a low profile.
Dotcom has not revealed a specific launch date or details of how the planned Megabox music service will work.
He told technology website torrentfreak.com last December that Megabox will allow artists to keep 90% of earnings from their songs by letting them sell directly to consumers, bypassing record labels.
Dotcom is due for a court hearing in March 2013. It will determine if US authorities can extradite him and 3 co-accused on charges of money laundering, racketeering, fraud and online copyright theft.
He faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted in a US court.
Dotcom (whose original name is Kim Schmitz) has denied these charges and has been tweeting that he's not guilty.
According to the FBI and the US Justice Department, Megaupload netted more than US$175-M in criminal proceeds and cost copyright owners more than US$500-M by offering pirated copies of movies, TV shows and other content.
Dotcom was initially denied Internet access when granted bail in New Zealand but successfully appealed for the right to go online, arguing it was necessary to organize his defense.
No bail conditions limiting his online activities or preventing him from launching new Internet ventures were imposed, although any Megaupload reboot is likely to have stringent copyright protections to prevent further legal issues.
In recent months, his Internet presence has chiefly focused on rallying support for his cause, including website kim.com and an online song accusing US President Barack Obama of waging war on cyber freedom. - Agence France-Presse