Kim Dotcom joined SXSW Interactive via Skype on Monday to talk about Hollywood's outdated business model and the U.S. government's role in the attack in his cyberlocker site, Megaupload. The Internet entrepreneur turned folk hero was a humorous, well-spoken and imposing presence even from his home in New Zealand.
More than anything, Dotcom was defiant over the hour-long question and answer period. "I will never be in a prison in the U.S. I can guarantee that," he told a crowd of hundreds gathered in Austin's Long Center. It was an impressive crowd considering the venue's distance -- nearly a mile -- from the Convention Center that hosts most convention panels and keynotes.
Dotcom, looking like a floating head in black clothing against a black background, drew a bigger crowd than a keynote by Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde three years ago. Sunde also joined the discussion via Skype because legal problems prevented him from entering the United States.
Megaupload was shut down by the U.S. Department of Justice in January 2012 for violating piracy laws. Dotcom, the company's founder, denies any wrongdoing and said Monday his legal team would show the DOJ is acting maliciously. Megaupload re-launched as Mega.co.nz in January.
Dotcom blames the big media companies for their piracy problems. "Hollywood has an outdated business model that doesn't work anymore in the age of the Internet," he said Monday. "The Internet is about now, right? If you go to Wikipedia and you want to research an article, you get that now. They don't tell you to come back in three months without making it ready for you. When the [movie] studios release movies in the U.S., and then don't make them available anywhere else in the world for three to six months, that is actually encouraging piracy."
Megabox, the online music service that Dotcom hopes will put record labels out of business, is still under development. "I would think that in the next six months we are going to release the site," Dotcom said. He described Megabox as "very similar to iTunes" except that it operates in a web browser using HTML5 technology and "[loads] much faster than iTunes or anything else out there."
Previous reports have said Megabox will compensate artists through advertising revenue and give artists 90% of all earnings. Dotcom plans to work directly with artists rather than work with record labels.