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02 April, 2012

Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom Is Back Online, Working on an Album

By Sam Laird on Mashable

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is back online.
A New Zealand judge on Monday granted the file-sharing demigod Internet access and swimming privileges, as well as permission to finish an in-progress music album and hold weekly meetings with his Megaupload co-defendants.
Dotcom was granted bail on Feb. 21, but that came with a series of severe restrictions. He was arrested in January after authorities, including the FBI, shut Megaupload down for encouraging online piracy.
As part of Judge David Harvey’s Monday ruling, Dotcom is now allowed to travel twice a week to an Auckland studio to finish an upcoming music album, the Associated Press reports. What exactly the ostentatious and eccentric mogul is working on is not clear, although TorrentFreak reports that it’s “a collaboration with several international artists” and after a sneak preview last year, “we like what we heard.”
In December, Dotcom posted this star-laden promotional music video that has since gained more than 13 million views:
The offbeat, hit video is just one part of Dotcom’s long, strange trip through Internet-born riches and fame (see gallery below). Originally named Kim Schmitz in Germany, he founded Megaupload in 2005. The site became wildly popular with Internet users and earned him millions of dollars, but drew the ire of law enforcement.
Tipping the scales at a reported six-and-a-half feet tall and nearly 300 pounds, Dotcom was never shy about flaunting his largesse by posing for photographs with scantily clad women, participating in international auto races and paying for a lavish New Year’s fireworks display in Auckland, among other pursuits.
Until Judge Harvey’s Monday ruling, Dotcom had been barred from even possessing a phone with Internet capability since being granted bail. He may now swim once per day and confer with his co-defendants in anticipation of an August hearing to determine whether he will be extradited for trial to the United States. And, of course, he can put the final touches on that album.
Do you think Kim Dotcom is being unfairly persecuted or not? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS: The Strange and Epic Lifestyle of Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom

Until recently, Kim Dotcom was the top Modern Warfare 3 player in the world. He even apparently posted a video to prove it. We imagine it's tough to maintain such a coveted position while being held in jail for multiple copyright violations.

The Megaupload kingpin claims to have paid $500,000 for the City of Auckland to put on a 2011 New Year's firework display. In case any Kiwi were to forget who was funding the awesomeness, he produced a video replete with on-screen identification of his whereabouts during the show. "Yeah, that's me in my personal helicopter!"

3. Mega Man
Dotcom stands 6 feet 7 inches tall, and tips the scales at 300 pounds, according to CNET. No one really knows his exact measurements though. All reports we've seen have him measured differently so whatever his exact height and weight are, it's easy to see that his physical size matches his personality and ego.

4. Surname Switch
He legally changed his surname from Schmitz to Dotcom in homage to the beloved World Wide Web that made him famous.

5. Financial Bravado and a 9/11 Bounty
He once fancied himself an anti-terrorism fighter by offering a bounty of $10 million for Osama bin Laden after 9/11. He started a group called Young Intelligent Hackers Against Terrorism. He was so kind as to offer the authorities on the hunt a little of his own advice:
"Try Looking in Kandahar in Afghanistan. He visits his wife and daughter there at least once a month."
Image courtesy of iStockVesnaandjic

According to Vanity Fair, Dotcom is a "skilled and very fast driver" who raced in and won the Gumball 3000 in 2005. He bet that he would beat two of the female drivers. If they finished before him, he'd give them each $500,000. If he won, they had to join him in a threesome. No report on what came of that.
According to the Wall Street Journal, we do know that when he was arrested, police confiscated 21 luxury cars.

Even when the game seemed to be up, Mr. Dotcom orchestrated a flamboyant exit. Police had to cut their way through electronic locks to a saferoom, where they found him clutching a gun.
Image courtesy of iStockzentilia

Dotcom generated a spectacle wherever he went, often surrounded by cars and women, and wearing his trademark black outfit. He was even known to jump into hot tubs fully clothed. He made movies about himself racing cars, flirting with women, and riding in helicopters and private jets.

9. Dubious Wealth Creation
According to The New York Times, in 2001 he reportedly made more than $1 million when he allegedly bought shares in a struggling website, then falsely announced he would make a major investment, only to then sell his shares once the price went up after his announcement. He then defended himself by appearing on a popular late-night show, claiming people hated him because they didn't like his lifestyle. He then fled to Thailand before ultimately being apprehended.

10. Big Time Friends
He commissioned this well-produced music video starring many celebrities supporting the site, ostensibly in part to rub Megaupload in the face of copyright holders. Much controversy ensued.

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