It's not common for the brains behind criminal activities to be in the public eye. And when you spend as much time called "defendant" as German hacker and alleged piracy king Kim Schmitz (AKA Kim Dotcom, AKA Kimble) has, it makes more sense to fly as low as possible on the radar. Schmitz, who is credited with creating several illicit websites, took the exact opposite approach. Has the businessman turned over a new leaf?
A new Cnet profile pulled back the curtain on Schmitz and revealed a man who revels in the opulence of ill-gotten wealth - a fact that has frustrated content producers and rights holders for years:
Because of his German accent, prodigious girth (he's said to weigh more than 300 pounds), and his record of convictions for computer hacking and insider trading, some in Hollywood jokingly refer to him as Dr. No or Dr. Evil, fictional villains from the James Bond and Austin Powers films, respectively.
Schmitz can be seen in YouTube videos driving a Mercedes-Benz at more than 200 mph on public roads while competing in a street race known as the Gumball 3000. On one of his cars is a license plate that reads "God." In other clips, Schmitz bathes in grand marble tubs, suns himself on yachts, and cavorts with bikini-clad women.
Schmitz even appeared on a German talk show in 2006.
However, Cnet speculated that his lifestyle has grown tamer since those wilder times, referencing reports from 2010 that named Schmitz as the "secret buyer" of a $30 million mansion in Coatesville, New Zealand. The site also gleaned new comments from Bonnie Lam, a spokesperson for Megaupload who had previously defended Schmitz's sites as "legitimate businesses operating within the boundaries of the law," who painted him as a reformed family man.
If true, that could only help the embattled Schmitz as he faces renewed legal pressure.
In February, porn publisher Perfect 10 accused Schmitz of fostering copyright infringement, trademark dilution and more with his star business, Megaupload. Schmitz objected, but California District Court judge Irma Gonzalez didn't - ruling this week that Perfect 10 does indeed have a case.
"Drawing all reasonable inferences in Perfect 10's favor, Megaupload serves as more than a passive conduit, and more than a mere 'file storage' company," wrote Judge Gonzalez in her ruling, concluding: "Perfect 10 has adequately alleged Megaupload has engaged in volitional conduct sufficient to hold it liable for direct infringement."
Billed as a legitimate file storage/delivery service, Megaupload offers customers tiered options for as little as €9.99 per month and is related to other services including MegaVideo, MegaPix and MegaLive.
With Perfect 10's case receiving a legal green light, expect more news on Schmitz and Megaupload soon.