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Q+A: Transcript of Kim Dotcom interview

Published: 1:28PM Sunday November 18, 2012 Source: Q+A

PAUL HOLMES

So, how much support do you get from New Zealanders, like, round the country, wherever you go?

KIM DOTCOM - Internet Entrepreneur

If I go out in the car, for example, I drive to the police station to report that I'm still here, people will wave or give me thumbs up or honk. And it's just, you know, very friendly.

HOLMES Do you have to go to the police station and say you're still here?

DOTCOM Yeah.

HOLMES How often do you do that?

DOTCOM Well, it used to be three times a week. That has been reduced now.

HOLMES Ok. What is your situation? Are you without money?

DOTCOM Yes. Well, funds have been frozen. So all around the world, our assets have been frozen. We have been given some allowance by the court for living expenses and recently for rent.

HOLMES How much money were you used to? How much money did you have?

DOTCOM Well, I was in a situation where you didn't really have to think about that, you know? Whatever you need, you could afford.

HOLMES Are you able to pay the bills? Or are you getting behind in the bills?

DOTCOM Well, it's really difficult. We have a lot of outstanding expenses, you know, where creditors are lining up because they haven't been paid.

HOLMES Can you pay your staff?

DOTCOM Very limited compared to what we used to pay them, but they are all taking a cut, and we have reduced our staff here significantly. I mean, this property had 50 people. We're now down to eight.

HOLMES Has this whole experience put you off New Zealand at all?

DOTCOM Well, you know, in the beginning, certainly, but, I mean, the good thing that came out of all this negativity was really that New Zealand kind of embraced us now, and we are welcome here. So, you know, it definitely makes us feel more home than before, which is odd because of the situation.

HOLMES Was that freaky, that whole police invasion?

DOTCOM It was a total disaster. I mean, you know, shocking for Mona, especially. I mean, if you're pregnant with twins and you already have to deal with all kinds of pains and issues because of such a pregnancy and then you're put under the stress, and she is separated from the kids. You know, she has to stand outside in the rain on the grass, and no one is attending to her when she wanted to go to the hospital because she had, you know, contractions from the shock. The police wouldn't do anything.

HOLMES Does your wife still have the nightmares?

DOTCOM Yeah.

HOLMES Really?

DOTCOM Well, I mean, if you are in a situation like that, that's something that stays with you for some time. And you have to understand, we're living in a house that still has all the marks, all the scarring of what happened here. You know, boot prints on the walls, knocked in doors, marks of the sledgehammers, smashed in walls. That stuff is still here.

HOLMES If they'd knocked on the door, the police, would you have answered?

DOTCOM Of course. There's absolutely no reason why they have to arrive here in helicopters with the amount of people and dogs and all of that. I'm a peaceful guy. I'm not somebody who is any threat to anybody. I've never hurt anybody.

HOLMES Were there many guns?

DOTCOM Well, the security guard has put two guns on the property - one in his quarters and one up in the safe room.

HOLMES Did your security people get their guns?

DOTCOM No.

HOLMES No.

DOTCOM No.

HOLMES So there was no armed confrontation, nothing like this?

DOTCOM Nothing like that. No, what would never have been the case.

HOLMES Are there going to be some more shocks?

DOTCOM What do you mean by shocks?

HOLMES Spy shocks.

DOTCOM Spy shocks? Well, we know that they have spied on us more than is already known. I mean, they have installed cameras around the property. They have surveilled us quite a bit, so all of that will have to come out during the court proceedings.

HOLMES Where do you come from, Kit Dotcom?

DOTCOM Well, originally I'm born in Germany.

HOLMES What part? In the north?

DOTCOM In northern Germany. In Kiel.

HOLMES Kiel?

DOTCOM Mm-hm, which is close to Hamburg. So spent most of my young childhood in northern Germany and then parts in Finland because my mother is from Finland. So I'm also a Finnish citizen, and I spent time in, you know, Turku.

HOLMES I see you have the Finnish flag flying today.

DOTCOM Yeah, that's right.

HOLMES What did your mother and father-? So, you say your mother was Finnish.

DOTCOM Yes.

HOLMES So, what did your mother and father do?

DOTCOM Well, my mother was a housewife. She learnt to be a cook. And my father was an engineer on a ship, a cruise liner.

HOLMES Did they understand you?

DOTCOM I guess I'm certainly living in my own space, and the internet is something that is not as, you know, as interesting to them as it is to me. So I wouldn't think they have a deep understanding, but they certainly support what I'm doing. Or my mum supports what I'm doing. My father and my mother got divorced when I was only 6.

HOLMES Does he contact you?

DOTCOM No, I'm not in touch with my father.

HOLMES Ok. So your mother is very supportive. Are you close to your mother?

DOTCOM Yes, very close.

HOLMES She must be worried about all of this.

DOTCOM Yes, she's worried.

HOLMES What kind of a kid were you?

DOTCOM An adventurer, I guess. I always spent a lot of time in the forests, and I enjoyed exploring the outdoors.

HOLMES Is this mainly in Germany, or is this up in Finland as well?

DOTCOM Both. In Germany and Finland. You know, Finland is the country of a thousand lakes, so I've probably seen half of them.

HOLMES So you like the physical outdoors as well.

DOTCOM Yeah.

HOLMES And were you also busy into this with the computers and did you-?

DOTCOM Well, that started, you know, when I got my first computer when I was around 10, and that just totally hooked me and never left me since.

HOLMES What excited you about the internet?

DOTCOM Well, the internet is this whole new world that allows everyone to communicate and exchange information and be a perfect marketplace and just accelerate everybody's lives. So, for me, the internet was the greatest invention of mankind so far. So you could become, especially during the first dot-com boom, you could become a multimillionaire overnight if you just had the right idea, because once you put it out there and people start using it, you could have critical mass within a week, and everyone would want to buy in. So, you know, the internet has opened this whole new business world and accelerated everything. You now have guys like Mark Zuckerberg who's in his 20s and is a multibillionaire. There was no other industry before the internet that would allow you to achieve such unbelievable successes.

HOLMES Now I find you are happy again. Since we came today, you've been a little bit down.

DOTCOM You ask good questions, that's why.

HOLMES But you start talking about your love, the internet, and you're happy again.

DOTCOM I'm passionate about it.

HOLMES Yeah. Could you be happy in this house again?

DOTCOM Yes, I think I could.

HOLMES Have you been unhappy here?

DOTCOM Very. Very unhappy. I mean, there's certainly scarring that still needs to heal, and it's a lengthy process.

HOLMES Some people hate you.

DOTCOM Mm.

HOLMES Why is that?

DOTCOM They don't know me, I guess.

HOLMES Is it because they see it that you've stolen their fortunes?

DOTCOM Well, that's not accurate. I'm certainly not in the business of stealing anything.

HOLMES You see, what about this fella we saw on the television on Sunday night, this video editor?

DOTCOM Mm.

HOLMES What's his name? Mr Bushyhead.

DOTCOM Yeah.

HOLMES He says you pushed him out of your house, you cancelled his air ticket. He said you assaulted him. He said his computer was yours now. Did this happen?

DOTCOM No, it's complete nonsense. Completely-

HOLMES Why would he make that up? He's an Emmy award-winning video editor.

DOTCOM Well, I think that has nothing to do with it. He made it up. Because there were several people there during that time, you know, the security guards, they witnessed what happened. They gave their statements to the police, and they said, 'Look, there's no case here. This is a civil matter, and we will not pursue it.' And for the simple reason that this guy is just out to hurt me because I fired him.

HOLMES So what he said didn't happen?

DOTCOM Not the way he said it.

HOLMES Did you push him along in the corridor?

DOTCOM Absolutely not. I'm not a violent guy. I never push anybody. I don't hurt anybody.

HOLMES Powerful, rich men can be bullying types of men.

DOTCOM Yeah, but I'm not that kind of guy. You know, you can ask anybody who knows me. I don't get physical.

HOLMES And, of course, the great issue is copyright. Do you steal copyright?

DOTCOM No.

HOLMES Let's talk about that when we come back.

(AD BREAK)

HOLMES You say, and you have said countless times, you do not steal copyright.

DOTCOM Yeah, that's right.

HOLMES But you facilitate that process, don't you?

DOTCOM No.

HOLMES This is the guts of it.

DOTCOM Well, the bottom line is if Megaupload is illegal, so is YouTube, so are countless other sites that allow user-generated content.

HOLMES But that doesn't make it right. It's the same thing. You enable, all of you enable the theft of copyright.

DOTCOM That is not correct. Any ISP who is connecting users to the internet has the same issue. The moment a person is connected to the internet, the ISP could be responsible. Windows, the operating system from Microsoft, allows you to watch that content on your computer. Are they responsible for people doing it? No. We are a hard drive that is connected to the internet. What you do with it is your responsibility, and we give you very clear guidelines of what you can and can't do.

HOLMES But you had built a billion-dollar business. There was something very exciting about what you were doing. And your own colleague Bram Van Der Volk, he wrote an email at some point. 'We have a funny business. We're modern-day pirates.' And then Mathias Ortmann replied, 'No, we're not pirates; we're just providing a shipping service to pirates.'

DOTCOM Yeah, they were joking. They were kidding.

HOLMES Yeah, sure. But that's the same as being a pirate. In other words-

DOTCOM Any ISP could say that. YouTube could say that. Anybody who is in the internet business and allows users access can say that, you see? And they were joking. It's totally taken out of context.

HOLMES But that is the guts. What they were saying was the guts of what you do. I mean, who I'm saying is you knew what was going on, that your customers were uploading files that didn't belong to them, and you were turning a blind eye.

DOTCOM Well, look, let's be realistic here, ok? Anyone who is offering the kind of service that we had has to deal with the same issues, and the best example is YouTube, ok? They are having to deal with these issues every day, and if you go to YouTube now, right now, and you look for infringing material, you will find more there online right now than you would ever find in the history of Megaupload. It's the reality of the internet. It's not us facilitating that, ok? It's society using our services.

HOLMES But, you see, the problem- Because what I'm saying here is theft is theft.

DOTCOM Well, a lot of people would not agree with that statement because copyright infringement, in the opinion of most people, is not theft. If you take a copy of something, the original is still there. No one took the original. You see, it's not theft because nothing was lost because of it.

HOLMES But you're making the money, and the person who came up with the product is not making the money.

DOTCOM Well, I didn't make money-

HOLMES You see, we had these people the other night. This woman made film.

DOTCOM Yeah.

HOLMES She lost a lot of money, this guy who makes the dirty films.

DOTCOM Let me tell you about that independent film producer, ok, because I watched that programme. First of all, she didn't just blame Megaupload. If you google her name, she blamed Google, she blamed YouTube. She blamed everybody. It was just convenient for that interview that it was about Megaupload. If they would have raided YouTube and thrown YouTube executives into jail, she would have had the same happy feeling that she had. Ultimately, she made a movie that has an IMDB rating of 4.1. I mean, that's as low as it gets, ok? You can't blame me, seriously, if people upload something to a website that we have created for online storage. You know, it's not my responsibility. I'm not doing it. I'm not providing anyone with any links to that content.

HOLMES But what the hell is the answer then?

DOTCOM Well, the answer is a new business model for the content creators.

HOLMES All right. Just quickly on Megaupload again, didn't you, however, offer monetary rewards? You encouraged people to upload, and you had an ad that said the more popular your files, the more you're going to make. In other words, the bigger the piracy you help me with, the-

DOTCOM (LAUGHS) That's not what it said. I mean, you are totally twisting that here. Let me explain something to you. Our rewards would not even pay for files set up bigger than 100MB. Any movie, any TV series, any such file is larger than 100MB, so how can anybody claim that we paid people for uploading movies? Not a penny has been paid to anybody who's uploading a full-length movie.

HOLMES Go back to the big problem. Is copyright an outdated idea? Can it no longer be contained?

DOTCOM I think copyright has its right to exist, absolutely, and I think that it's up to copyright creators to come up with new solutions that deal with the reality of the world we're living in today. You need to have a new business model that works for everybody, where users get quick and easy access to content and are not prohibited based on their location or based on their internet speed and all these things.

HOLMES Yeah, but why shouldn't I say you can have the information when I, as the copyholder, am ready for you to have it?

DOTCOM Well, because what happens is if you release a movie, ok, and that movie is not available in one geographic location, people there will know about the movie, and if there is an opportunity for them to get it, they will take that opportunity no matter if you want that or not. It's how society deals with it.

HOLMES You are not going to stop them is what you're saying.

DOTCOM Well, it's not my job to stop them. It's not my responsibility to stop them. I was an online service provider. It's not my job to police what people are uploading. It's the job of the content owners, and the law is very clear. If you create content, and you want to protect your copyrights, you have to do the work. You have to identify the infringements online, and you have to take them down; not me. And whenever you come to us and report something, we have taken it down.

HOLMES The woman on the Sunday programme told us with her film, 'Yes, yes, yes, we'll take it down for you.' And she'd say, 'I'd look an hour later and it's back up.'

DOTCOM Mm.

HOLMES How is that satisfactory for her?

DOTCOM Well, it's of course not satisfactory, and I don't think that, in most cases, that would happen. If something is taken down, you know, the link doesn't just reappear and come back to life. Someone would have to re-upload it. And the way our system worked, if we took a file down, a link down that was in your account, you would not permitted to re-upload to the same file. So it would have come from somebody else.

HOLMES Let us talk about the politics, the slightly different aspects of the politics. Mr Banks, Mr John Banks, were you good friend of his?

DOTCOM I wouldn't say good friend, but I considered him a friend, yes.

HOLMES He sat as this table.

DOTCOM Mm.

HOLMES Where did he sit at this table?

DOTCOM Uh, there. (POINTS)

HOLMES You sat there?

DOTCOM I sat over there. (POINTS)

HOLMES And he asked you to write a cheque for his mayoral campaign.

DOTCOM Yeah, two cheques.

HOLMES Did he say two cheques.

DOTCOM Yeah.

HOLMES What did he say about the two cheques?

DOTCOM Well, I wanted to donate $50,000 to his mayoral campaign, and I was going to write one cheque, but then he asked me to make it two cheques.

HOLMES I understand he said to you it would make it easier if he wrote two cheques.

DOTCOM Well, he said that he could then say it's anonymous, so he wouldn't have to declare it if I did it that way.

HOLMES So you made that donation.

DOTCOM Yeah.

HOLMES Then there's a huge police bust, looking like the Second Coming, and when you're in prison, your lawyer contacted Mr Banks. Why?

DOTCOM Well, you know, I had two slipped discs. I had major back pain, and, you know, with my weight and my health problems, I was in severe pain in prison. And all I wanted was a thicker mattress, because the mattress in prison was this thick and basically sitting on a concrete slab. So for someone with my weight, it was like lying, sleeping on concrete, you see?

HOLMES You wanted something for your back.

DOTCOM I wanted something for my back.

HOLMES And the word came back from Mr Banks - what?

DOTCOM Well, it's inappropriate, and he doesn't want to help.

HOLMES What was your reaction to that?

DOTCOM Well, I don't know. I mean, I would have done things differently. If I call myself a friend of someone and that person gets into trouble, I will try and help.

HOLMES Were you angry?

DOTCOM Uh, not so much angry. I would say more hurt. Mm.

HOLMES You were hurt that he wouldn't help you after you'd helped him.

DOTCOM Yes. But not because of that. Because we had a nice thing going, you know. I mean, I thought he was a good guy. I still think he is a good guy. You know, it's just the way he presented the whole situation, he just got himself into trouble by not being perfectly honest, you know?

HOLMES John Key. John Key says he'd never heard of you until the raid was about to happen on your house. Do you believe that?

DOTCOM Do you believe that?

HOLMES Well, I have to notice that we'd had some fireworks.

DOTCOM And some other things.

HOLMES You lived in his electorate. He'd been to Hollywood where they were already trying to extradite you. I wonder how could he not have known about you.

DOTCOM Yes, everybody wonders. He is running naked and telling people he has clothes on. Everyone can see he's naked. See, I mean, it doesn't make any sense. I know for a fact that John Key knew before January 19, and it's going to be a topic in our court hearing, so I don't want to reveal too much, but I know. And for him not to be upfront and honest about, to me, there's really only one reason, and that's the political interference element that could stop the whole extradition procedure. If we can show that the government he has had an active role in the magnitude of this whole case and had a proactive role rather than a reactive role to impress the United States Government, well, you know, there you have it. It's a monster issue.

HOLMES Do you believe John Key has lied?

DOTCOM Yes.

HOLMES Do you have evidence of this?

DOTCOM Yes.

HOLMES Then there's the spying, the GCSB, the spying. A former prime minister, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, says the New Zealand Government could be liable for heavy damages for the illegal spying on your activities as a New Zealand resident. Should there be heavy damages?

DOTCOM Well, I'm not interested in damages from the New Zealand Government. I'm interested to resolve this case. I'm interested for people to realise the people who attacked me, they made a mistake and that this needs to be resolved in a diplomatic fashion, and soon, because this is just going to drag on. It's going to hurt everybody. It's going to embarrass those who are attacking us. And there's no point in taking this further.

HOLMES If you got damages, of course, I suppose that could go some way to paying for a new broadband cable across the Pacific.

DOTCOM Yeah, but if I would seek damages, I would not seek them in New Zealand. I would seek them from the US Government, which has acted in bad faith, and I would seek that also from Hollywood Studios who are paying the MPAA and Chris Dodd, you know, to do this kind of thing. And I think they are liable because there has been a lot of bad faith and a lot of misinformation going on in this case.

HOLMES How long does your legal counsel think this will drag on for?

DOTCOM Theoretically, it can take a decade, you know. So I don't think anyone has any upside to that. Neither side has any upside in this whole case.

GREG BOYED

Kim Dotcom speaking there to Paul Holmes. Now, the internet billionaire's claim that John Key has lied is a big one. John Key, it must be said, has repeatedly insisted that while he knew a German was living in the Chrisco mansion in Coatesville and his office had been told about Dotcom, he personally had never heard of Dotcom until briefed by the Solicitor General the day before the raid of the property. We look forward to seeing Mr Dotcom's proof in court.

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