Kim Dotcom just had to be bigger than life. His filesharing website Megaupload once held 50 petabytes (50,000,000,000,000,000) of data; all of his assets were worth $175 million; and you could not ignore his physical presence: he is 6-foot-7 inches tall and weighs 300 lbs.
All that size may not matter, however, if he is sentenced to as many as 20 years by an American court. U.S. Justice Department officials are now awaiting his extradition from New Zealand on charges that his website was a front for an illegal operation that pirated movies, TV programs and software. The wheels of justice are however turning slowly in his case. Legal complications have moved his extradition hearings from August 2012 to March 2013.
Technicalities are holding up the hearing, including a high court judge invalidating the warrants used to raid his home and the judge stating that the FBI’s shipping of copied hard drive images was illegal. Dotcom and his associates are currently free on bail.
Dotcom, 38, born Kim Schmitz in Kiel, Germany, came out of a difficult and troubled childhood to become one of the most proficient, richest and flamboyant hackers in the world. After several bouts of legal trouble as a young adult (he beat the rap on all of them), Dotcom and a partner came up with a way to share files that were too big to e-mail.
At some point, his site’s users began to take advantage of Megaupload’s capacity to pirate copyrighted material. Dotcom says his company took down the data when they were asked, but the Justice Department says he chose what to take down and what to leave up. In January, authorities raided Dotcom’s megamansion in Coatesville, New Zealand after a two-year investigation led by the FBI. Jail hasn’t stopped his digital dexterity. He and his partners have since come up with another cloud-based scheme to share files, allowing user-manipulated uploading and encryption that they called simply: Mega. Launch is slated for Jan. 19, 2013, precisely one year after his arrest. However, the DOJ has hinted that a launch of a new filesharing site could jeopardize him because the agency says he has already pledged not to launch anything new while free on bail.