Hollywood will regret the Dotcom trial

The many trials and tribulations surrounding Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom may be more significant than we expected, and will probably backfire on the authorities.

The many trials and tribulations surrounding Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom may be more significant than we expected, and will probably backfire on the authorities.

One of New Zealand's top-rated current-affairs programs has interviewed the internet whiz kid. Helped by record online viewing, the broadcast was one of the show's biggest audience winners in a long time, with clips shown all around the world.

Coupled with Dotcom's flamboyant image, there can scarcely be a New Zealander who watches the news or reads a newspaper who cannot be aware of Dotcom or his business activities.

Of course, we in the ICT sector will have heard of Dotcom and Megaupload beforehand. But chances are that your average Joe Punter probably had not, and many may not have even been aware of file sharing and similar services. Now, of course, they do know.

And this brings me to my point.

Big Hollywood and the US government may think that by closing down Megaupload, they will have thwarted the alleged piracy problem.

But as Kim Dotcom says in his interview, much demand stems from people wanting the latest US movies or TV programs now, as opposed to typically waiting months for it.

Furthermore, there are similar sites offering the same or related content that Megaupload.com did, including sites in the US that are unmolested by the FBI.

Like a many-headed hydra, if you cut off one head, others will take its place.

The US authorities are fighting a losing battle, especially since digital downloads seem the way of the entertainment future.

Just last night at a mate's house, I noticed that he had Apple TV, and could download the latest movies. As New Zealand switches over to digital TV in the coming year, many new TV sets will be bought, some with in-built internet access, like the set my friend has.

We will see that long-awaited convergence of ICT and entertainment.

Faster broadband, as part of the government's Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) and Rural Broadband Initiatives, will cement that new reality.

And where does this leave Hollywood and the more traditional models of copyright and content delivery?

In an almighty pickle, I would say.

This makes the way that they handle their entrance into digital important. But content providers and the US authorities are coming across as heavy handed. Despite his riches and flamboyance, Kim Dotcom is increasingly seen as the little guy; David in opposition to a US Goliath. Dotcom is Robin Hood, who is "robbing" the Hollywood rich to give to the consumer poor.

Meanwhile, the focus on Dotcom and his websites is making the masses aware of what can be done. Without the global publicity from the court case, Kim Dotcom and his websites may well have remained a relatively specialist and niche entity largely unheard of by the masses, or at least the growth of such file-sharing websites would otherwise be lower.

I am sure that big Hollywood, the US government and the FBI will one day wish that they had left Kim Dotcom well and truly alone.


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