Kim Dotcom likes his movies. He recently released a fresh fast-cars short film on his YouTube channel, which is full of his other cinematic enterprises. His life-size model of the alien from the Predator is well known. And his website, Megaupload, now out of action thanks to US authorities, carried a huge amount of cinematic content.
So the larger-than-life internet tycoon could be forgiven a tingle of excitement at appearing on the front page of the new Hollywood Reporter, where the cover-line reads: “THE NERD WHO BURNED HOLLYWOOD”.
The 5,700 word piece, by Daniel Miller and Matthew Belloni, draws heavily on the Campbell Live interview from March 1, which remains the German-born New Zealand resident’s fullest defence of his position since his arrest earlier this year.
While it lays out the case against Dotcom and his site – a “Napster on steroids”, says the Reporter – it gives decent air to the counterview. The Hollywood producers so keen on making an example of the so-called pirate king may not be altogether delighted.
New in the piece (or new to me, at least) are quotes from television producer Siad Batal, who flew to meet Dotcom in Hong Kong last year, having been urged by a mutual friend to convene a “summit with a deep-pocketed acquaintance who was looking to make Hollywood connections”.
According to Batal, Dotcom had made clear his ambition to “be the biggest entrepreneur in the internet world”. The German was reportedly interested in achieving “Steve Jobs-style fame”.
Batal tells the Reporter:
I discussed a concept of doing a reality show about him being the Donald Trump of the hacking world. He was very intrigued by that. He said, ‘Let’s do some research and get together again.’
Miller and Belloni quote an executive from the Motion Picture Association of America, which had been so keen for the US government to pursue Dotcom. He says:
Someone setting up a kiosk and selling counterfeit goods on a street corner in front of a legitimate shop – you’d expect law enforcement to stop that behaviour. That’s all we ask for on the internet.
But they also talk to Anthony Falzone, a lecturer at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, who, in the authors’ summary, “believes the government’s case against Megaupload is premised on an aggressive extension of US copyright law that seeks criminal penalties – rather than the civil remedies used against Napster and Grokster – that could stymie innovation.
“It is going to be a big landmark for entrepreneurs, investors and anyone thinking of creating digital distribution platforms,” Falzone says. For example, Pinterest, a pinboard-style social photograph-sharing service that has exploded in popularity this year, could be viewed as a platform for the dissemination of copyrighted material, even as it continues to shape itself. “It creates tremendous risk if your platform is used for the wrong reasons.”
Whatever happens, and with or without the MPAA’s blessing, a biopic is a sure thing. Russell Crowe will need to widen up. But who will play John Campbell?
A footnote: the URL on the Hollywood Reporter has clearly been designed by someone keen to pick up a bit of search-engine traffic: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/kim-dotcom-megaupload-piracy-steve-jobs-kanye-west-kim-kardashian