kim Schmitz legally changed his
surname to Dotcom at some point over the last decade, a homage to the
technology that made him a millionaire and that has now landed him in a New Zealand jail.
The 38-year-old Internet entrepreneur was
arrested Thursday at his birthday celebration inside a
25,000-square-foot mansion in Auckland. When police entered the
property, Mr. Dotcom fled to a safe room, where he was found with a
loaded shotgun, officials said.
Mr. Dotcom was charged with criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit racketeering. The Federal Bureau of Investigation
shut down his Hong Kong-based website, which it claims was used to
pirate half a billion dollars worth of entertainment content.
The husky Mr. Dotcom is a kingpin in a
little-exposed side of the Internet economy, who profited by tapping
changes in technology, roiling the entertainment industry.
His company, Megaupload Ltd., and similar online
storage sites known as cyberlockers, have many legitimate uses, such as
allowing people to share large presentation files and home movies.
But U.S. authorities and entertainment
executives say in court documents and interviews that cyberlockers are
at the vanguard of online piracy. On Friday, the U.S. Congress abandoned
two controversial antipiracy bills.
Despite the legal controversy brewing around
his website—and a previous conviction for insider trading—Mr. Dotcom
didn't lay low or hide anonymously behind his computer.
Rather, Mr. Dotcom openly enjoyed a lavish
lifestyle. He owned at least 18 luxury cars—including a 1959 pink
Cadillac and three cars with vanity license plates that read "HACKER,"
"MAFIA," and "STONED," according to U.S. officials—flew helicopters, and
personally funded the city of Auckland's 2010 New Year's fireworks