KIM Dotcom, the alleged head of a conspiracy to defraud the entertainment industry of millions of dollars via pirated films and music on his former website Megaupload.com, has announced plans to relaunch his online empire.
The colourful entrepreneur, who is on bail in New Zealand and wanted in the United States on charges criminal copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering, took to Twitter to unveil his new venture, Megabox.
The new website will offer musicians a way to sell their music direct to fans and keep 90 per cent of revenues.
“The major record labels thought Megabox is dead,” said Mr Dotcom.
“Artists rejoice. It is coming and it will unchain you.”
Mr Dotcom, born Kim Schmitz in Germany, was arrested in January in a raid on his mansion in Auckland.
New Zealand authorities acted on a warrant issued by the US Department of Justice, which accuses the 38-year-old father of three of leading a conspiracy that cost copyright holders $500m. They seized millions of dollars worth of sports cars and other luxury goods, but were ordered to return them in March after a court found there had been a “procedural error”.
Mr Dotcom, who has previous convictions for computer hacking and insider trading, and before settling in New Zealand enjoyed a jetset lifestyle, was bailed in February and has maintained a relatively low profile since, but has emerged online to speak to supporters.
“That's why I love the internet. From zero to 1,000 followers in one day, he said. “Let's make history together.”
Megaupload.com acted as a free online storage and streaming service. Prosecutors allege that Mr Dotcom and his staff deliberately ignored legitimate requests to remove material that infringed copyright, and made “illegal profits” of $175m as a result.
He denies the charges and faces an extradition hearing alongside former staff on 6 August.
If extradited to the United States and found guilty he faces decades in jail.