SYDNEY (AP) — Indicted Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom launched a new file-sharing website that promises users greater privacy and defies the U.S. prosecutors who accuse him of facilitating massive online piracy.
The colorful entrepreneur unveiled the "Mega" site ahead of a lavish gala and news conference at his New Zealand mansion on Sunday night, the anniversary of his arrest on racketeering charges related to his now-shuttered Megaupload file-sharing site. The site Dotcom started in 2005 was one of the most popular sites on the Web until U.S. prosecutors shut it down and accused him and several company officials of facilitating millions of illegal downloads.
In Dotcom's typical grandiose style, the launch party featured a tongue-in-cheek re-enactment of the dramatic raid on his home a year earlier, when New Zealand police swooped down in helicopters onto the mansion grounds and nabbed him in a safe room where he was hiding.
"Mega is going to be huge, and nothing will stop Mega — whoo!" a gleeful Dotcom bellowed from a giant stage set up in his yard, seconds before a helicopter roared overhead and faux police agents rappelled down the side of his mansion. Dotcom eventually ordered everyone to "stop this madness!" before breaking out into a dance alongside miniskirt-clad "guards" as music boomed.
Bravado aside, interest in the site was certainly high. Dotcom said half a million users registered for Mega in its first 14 hours.
U.S. authorities are trying to extradite the German-born Internet tycoon from New Zealand, where he is free on bail. Prosecutors say Dotcom made tens of millions of dollars while filmmakers and songwriters lost around $500 million in copyright revenue.