Kim Dotcom's truly bizarre story retold in Caught in the Web

by Fiona Rae / 19 December, 2017
RelatedArticlesModule - Kim Dotcom documentary

Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web. Photo/Getty Images

The colourful life of former teen hacker Kim Schmitz, better known as Kim Dotcom, provides fascinating fodder for a documentary that plays this week on TV.

When acclaimed film-maker Annie Goldson began following Kim Dotcom in 2012, she could hardly have guessed she would capture a series of events that would threaten John Key’s prime ministership and, as has been alleged, make it all the way to the White House.

Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web (TVNZ 1, Wednesday, 8.30pm) is a detailed and absorbing feature documentary about the man formerly known as Kim Schmitz and his legal battles with the US Government. It’s also about copyright laws, our right to privacy and government overreach.

The documentary begins with the armed police raid on Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion in 2012, but quickly backtracks to Germany in the early 90s, when Schmitz was describing himself as a hacker: “hackers were wizards”.

During the 90s, he fell foul of the law several times. He was arrested in Thailand and deported to Germany to face embezzlement charges.

By 2003, he was making a fresh start in Hong Kong, which is where Megaupload was born. It was innovative, and it surged ahead with the rise of illegal music downloading via online services such as Napster and, more significantly for Dotcom, the pirating of movies.

Megaupload was created to allow large files to be easily sent over the internet, but the issue is whether it is responsible for users’ content. It became a place where movies were available for free, resulting in Dotcom becoming an enemy of the Motion Picture Association of America. Even President Barack Obama came under pressure, after MPAA head Chris Dodd threatened to withdraw campaign funding.

Tech reporter Greg Sandoval is in no doubt that Hollywood pressured the President. “You get in between America and its money and you’re going to have big problems.”

The impressive list of interviewees includes journalist Glenn Greenwald, musician Moby, internet and copyright expert Lawrence Lessig, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and New Zealand investigative journalist David Fisher.

The story becomes really bizarre after Dotcom’s move here and the Coatesville raid, apparently at the behest of the FBI. He fought back, winning significant legal victories, highlighting the activities of the GCSB and the Five Eyes surveillance network and creating the Internet Party to fight the 2014 election.

A fascinating tale and, as Goldson told us in July, “an ongoing story, with international significance”.

This article was first published in the December 16, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.


What filmmaker Andrea Bosshard learned from her goldsmith father Kobi
107381 2019-06-19 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

What filmmaker Andrea Bosshard learned from her go…

by Ken Downie

Filmmaker Andrea Bosshard inherited a creative streak from her goldsmith father Kobi but he also taught her an important life lesson.

Read more
Will Uber disrupt itself with its Jump scooters?
107383 2019-06-19 00:00:00Z Tech

Will Uber disrupt itself with its Jump scooters?

by Peter Griffin

Around 800 electric scooters arrived in Wellington this week, with local start-up Flamingo and Uber-owned Jump launching at virtually the same time.

Read more
Libra: Why Facebook is the best and worst company to create a cryptocurrency
107416 2019-06-19 00:00:00Z Tech

Libra: Why Facebook is the best and worst company…

by Peter Griffin

There is a strong incentive for Facebook to own the crypto space, the way it has social media.

Read more
Win a double pass to Yesterday
107340 2019-06-18 09:48:44Z Win

Win a double pass to Yesterday

by The Listener

Yesterday, everyone knew The Beatles. Today, only Jack remembers their songs. He’s about to become a very big deal.

Read more
Mass protests protect Hong Kong's legal autonomy from China – for now
107337 2019-06-18 00:00:00Z World

Mass protests protect Hong Kong's legal autonomy f…

by Kelly Chernin

Protesters in Hong Kong have achieved a major victory in their fight to protect their legal system from Chinese interference.

Read more
Sir Roger Hall on why we need to treasure NZ's portrait art
107286 2019-06-18 00:00:00Z Arts

Sir Roger Hall on why we need to treasure NZ's por…

by Roger Hall

On an Australian art tour, playwright Sir Roger Hall found that a portrait gallery can be so much more than a snapshot of a country’s social history.

Read more
ANZ boss's departure: 'What was the NZ board doing to monitor expenses?'
Why you shouldn't force kids to eat everything on their plates
107161 2019-06-18 00:00:00Z Nutrition

Why you shouldn't force kids to eat everything on…

by Jennifer Bowden

Forcing children to finish everything on their plates sets them up for a bad relationship with food.

Read more