60 Minutes vs. Vice On Kim Dotcom — Neither One Goes Deep Into The Issues

from the two-sides dept

A few months back I spent quite some time on the phone with two producers from 60 Minutes concerning a story they were planning on Kim Dotcom. They insisted that it was going to be a more nuanced piece than the usual media coverage portraying Dotcom as the “Dr. Evil” of the copyright industry. The episode finally aired this past weekend, and to the show’s credit, it definitely does take a somewhat more nuanced look at Dotcom. An interview with Dotcom is the centerpiece of the story, which certainly allows him to express some of his position. However, it also allows a number of highly questionable statements from the FBI and others, including saying that the $500 million that Megaupload made is “lost revenue” from Hollywood. However, when Dotcom himself makes a claim about being a businessman, the reporter openly laughs at him and points out the fact that decades ago, Dotcom claimed to have hacked into government computers. Much of the piece (and the extra material on the web) focuses almost exclusively on the fact that he lives in a mansion (they conveniently leave out that it’s rented). It’s not a completely one-sided portrait, but it hardly gets at any of the underlying legal issues that are at the core of the case. Basically, every time they suggest any of the legal issues, it’s almost immediately followed up by “But look at this amazing house!”

Meanwhile, a day or two before the 60 Minutes episode aired, Vice released its own interview with Kim Dotcom which is worth watching as well. It covers some of the same stuff from a very different perspective, of course. A lot more of a focus on video gaming, music and such. Unfortunately, it too, is a bit weak on the legal issues. In the second half of that video (the first half is basically just wandering around the house), Dotcom finally is given some chance to weigh in on legal and policy issues — things that never come up at all in the 60 Minutes interview. Dotcom focuses much more on the NSA revelations, discussing how it’s had such a negative impact on the tech industry. Of course, right after Dotcom goes into discussing all these points, the reporter immediately jumps to asking him about the photos of Dotcom on a private plane and a yacht. Also, way too much of the video focuses on the reporter wanting to sing in one of Dotcom’s songs. Really?
In the end, both of them are kind of different generations doing the same thing: a story on Kim Dotcom that focuses on “Gee, look at his massive house, and this crazy guy,” rather than really presenting the key issues concerning copyright, surveillance, privacy, internet freedom — and the policies behind all of the laws related to those things. That’s too bad, as it’s really a lost opportunity for both media properties. Vice at least lets Dotcom raise some of these issues, but pays almost no attention to them.

I can understand the “media” appeal of both stories. Dotcom and his persona are entertaining. But unfortunately, it seems like that too often is used to obscure the underlying issues which are incredibly important and serious.

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Companies: megaupload

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Comments on “60 Minutes vs. Vice On Kim Dotcom — Neither One Goes Deep Into The Issues”

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67 Comments
Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Mike, any reason why you don’t do weekly podcasts/interviews?

Time, basically. It’s one of those things that’s on the list of “yes, I should do this, and yes, I want to do this…” but is always limited by… “shit, I have barely enough time as is, and that would take up a ton of time.”

I’m still hoping we’ll get to start doing something around that this year… at some point. Hopefully. Maybe.

out_of_the_blue says:

NSA evil does not mean Kim Dotcom isn't a criminal TOO.

FIVE HUNDRED MILLION! HOLY COW! I’ll reference this piece next time you LIE that there’s no mony in even indiret copyright infringement!


Mike appears to believe that the sole test for morally acceptable is whether it brings income without being jailed.

13:23:47[o-530-2]

Just Sayin' says:

Kim wants to be a martyr

The problem for anyone who supports piracy or who is against copyright is that Kim has become your unofficial spokesman, and he’s not a very good example.

Kim is here not for the music, not for free speech, Kim is here for the money, plain and simple. His personal wealth building no matter the cost to others makes him the perfect scapegoat, because he doesn’t try to be discrete about it.

It doesn’t help either that he has been found guilty of financial crimes twice (once in Hong Kong, and the big one in Germany), which gives him very little crediblity when it comes to the issues at hand.

The piracy / anti-copyright / free speech types would be good to distance themselves from the megalomaniac, he’s a boat anchor that is likely to sink all of you. He’s a Thomas, a Tennebaum, a Fung… someone who will fight too long, and end up making caselaw against your causes.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Kim wants to be a martyr

The fact that he’s all about money is a good thing. If he can get filthy rich from Megaupload, then Hollywood can get filthy rich the same way. He’s demonstrating how it’s done. The fact that Hollywood refuses to acknowledge this (or more likely, is unable to because of contractual obligations) is the reason they are seen as dinosaurs.

Plenty of poor people are doing it just for the art, or to make a statement. There’s no business model in that.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Kim wants to be a martyr

You’re talking pure nonsense.

The problem for anyone who supports piracy or who is against copyright is that Kim has become your unofficial spokesman, and he’s not a very good example.

First, don’t put “supports piracy” and “is for copyright reform” in the same bucket. It’s two entire separate groups of people. Second, in what sense has Kim become a spokesman for either group at all?

Kim is here not for the music, not for free speech, Kim is here for the money, plain and simple.

Yes, and why is this remotely relevant? Nobody’s saying that Kim is some kind of paragon of virtue.

which gives him very little crediblity when it comes to the issues at hand.

Again, how is this relevant? I don’t see how it matter one whit whether or not Kim has any credibility on copyright issues.

The piracy / anti-copyright / free speech types would be good to distance themselves from the megalomaniac

Again with your highly questionable groupings. Regardless, for people who are pro-justice, ignoring the fact that Kim was abused by law enforcement, apparently wrongly accused, and subjected to egregious injustice would be extremely unethical.

Everyone should be treated with justice, even complete douchebags. To defend someone against injustice in no way implies approval of the person you’re defending.

Just Sayin' says:

Re: Re:

Oh, this game again? Sorry guys, that wasn’t me posting, just the same guy who uses other people’s accounts and tries to discredit posters he doesn’t like.

I did make a comment, but it’s being held for moderation.

Mike, can you please deal with this idiot? This is the sort of trolling and baiting you DON’T want on your site, you can see I am not the problem here.

Anonymous Coward says:

That One Guy whines: “As the saying goes ‘Citation needed’. “

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20131220/00054025643/nz-customs-refuses-to-answer-questions-after-revelations-illegal-orders-to-give-fbi-info-kim-dotcom-brownie-points.shtml
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130830/02593924364/police-admit-that-nz-spy-agency-illegally-spied-kim-dotcom-arent-going-to-do-anything-about-it.shtml
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130823/09375924294/did-new-zealand-spooks-tap-into-prism-to-spy-dotcom.shtml

There’s three citations, boy.
Now stop whining.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I see three citations dealing with illegalities on the part of those going after Dotcom, but I don’t see any proof of Mike being a ‘pirate and an apologist’ as you (always and constantly) claim, and as for the rest of your comment AJ(nice name change by the way, pity you out yourself so easily by your actions here), I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if you don’t want to be sent to time out, stop acting like a child.

Anonymous Coward says:

Correction. The $500M was not reported as unqualified as you state. Instead it was qualified by use of the term “alleged”.

The view shared by many is that KDC is trying to turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse. Even a casual perusal of MU and the business plan KDC declares was pursued from the get go…a cyber locker…strains credulity. Yes, cyberlockers, which to my knowledge were not ubiquitous at the time of MU’s launch causes me to wonder just how he proposed to run a profit center. Premium accounts, payments to account holders based upon downloads, etc. do suggest an income stream to the site, and that “free” was the equivalent of what we know as bait and switch. I happen to believe that MU was intended from the get go to solicit uploads of widely sought after content, and that content in the vast majority of instances was subject to copyright. All his theatrics since leaving on an extended vacation in NZ looks like the jig is up and its time to get out of Dodge. Too bad that a person with his computer literacy and talent decided to pursue a path of likely wrongdoing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“and that content in the vast majority of instances was subject to copyright”

Copyright is automatic so everything on there would have been covered by copyright.

You seem to gloss over the fact that the majority of the files hosted on there were perfectly legal uploads.

Yes there were a small number of files (like TV, Film, and music) that were downloaded in breach of copyright but MU followed the DMCA and took down the links to these files when requested as required by law.

Everything he did was perfectly legal and that is why the US is having a hard time pinning anything on him. The US has gone as far as to release their evidence so that Civil cases can be brought up because there is no criminal case to answer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“You seem to gloss over the fact that the majority of the files hosted on there were perfectly legal uploads.”

Citation please…and from an objective source neither pro nor con on the relevant issues.

Even assuming your comment is correct, it must be understood that the charges leveled against KDC as they pertain to copyright are directed to his alleged active encouragement of copyright infringement and the profiting from same, as well as his paying lip service to notifications under the DMCA.

BTW, copyright being automatic is a feature with which I am not exactly thrilled, but not everything is subject to the law since while the bar is too low to my liking an item must still be an original work of authorship for copyright to attach.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Re: The burden of proof.

We don’t have to cite anything. Under our founding principles, Dotcom deserves the benefit of the doubt. We should treat him as completely innocent until such time as the state can prove a case against him “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

Until then, all of these allegations of evil and wrongdoing are just slander.

You are trying to crucify him in the press because you can’t seem to do it by any legitimate means.

There’s more to the law than just the copyright act.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The burden of proof.

We should treat him as completely innocent until such time as the state can prove a case against him “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Until then, all of these allegations of evil and wrongdoing are just slander.

Hmmm. Seems like these allegations of evil and wrongdoing are NOT slander until such time that’s been adjudicated by a court. Or does it only work that way for corpulent grifters?

What a transparent douchenozzle.

Anonymous Coward says:

Some quick questions...

First quick question.

How was that revenue lost by “Hollywood” if they don’t have anything even remotelly similar to what Megaupload presented?

Another quick one.

If they see that “One” guy can make that much “alleged” profit, why don’t they compete with him?

Last one.

He’s a CEO of a successful company, can we do a comparison of the houses (and life style) of other persons in similar positions? Or is anyone not shocked how Wall Street sharks live?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Some quick questions...

wow you really don’t understand the law, so according to you crime is ok as long as you profit from it ?

and, you consider crime ok if the victims are still able to make money by legal activities?

I also find very funny “some of his files are legal” therefore it does not matter that some are not !!!!!

“if you live in a big house, how is it possible you are doing anything wrong!”

Anonymous Coward says:

the stories were obviously done like they were intentionally. anything to make Dotcom look as bad ass as possible being the main aim. i very much doubt that these shows weren’t ‘vetted’ to some extent as well. there’s no way either that the DoJ, having screwed up as royally as it has, having broken the law and judges orders itself to simply ‘get the guy as a favour to Hollywood and the entertainment industries’, because the heads of the industries are best sponsoring buddies of some in Congress and Mr Head Honcho himself, and that’s without the relationship between them and the security agencies (cant help laughing when i say that)!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Just curious. What law has the USG “broken”? I am not aware of any US law, and merely asking for information from NZ authorities is quite legal. If NZ authorities do not follow NZ law, that is a matter between the NZ authorities and the NZ courts. The fact that some possible tainted information wended its way from NZ to the US is generally irrelevant under US law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Coerces? Asking for the sharing of information gained during investigations is not at all unusual, so it is a bit difficult to equate asking with coercing.

Nowhere in any of the plethora of reports I have read about the proceedings in NZ have I noted anything even remotely suggesting that the USG has engaged in an activity that runs afoul of NZ law. One judge did admonish the NZ authorities that they should attempt to retrieve some of what was shared with the USG because of alleged improprieties by such authorities, but by no means can this be interpreted as a declaration that the USG having violated any NZ law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Actually, it is not at all weird. No US court has told the USG “you done broke the law by your dealings with those in NZ”, and no NZ court has done likewise.

I am not trying to move any goalposts, but simply to point out to those who may happen to read all comments to the article that the USG has not done anything adjudicated as wrong in NZ, and somehow trying to say something to the effect “they browbeat/coerce/etc. NZ authorities” is unsubstantiated.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

By killing NSA they’ve put an end to all spying 100% !

once NSA stops sifting through your meta-data, so will Google, Masnick and everyone else !

If a crime is still being committed by someone else (as well) then all crimes of that nature should be completely ignored!

I love the ‘legal’ arguments from the TD fans!

Chris says:

kim dotcome vs youtube

now if they are going after this guy for the Hollywood BS they need to also go after Youtube google and anyone else that allows anyone to upload anything cause I see plenty of movies on youtube the only difference is commercials. maybe im wrong on something but they should be going after the people that upload the videos and music. but you have 12 billion some files transferred how do you keep track of everything.

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