Cyber-tycoon's political plans make him a multi-party problem

Several comparisons come to mind while observing the unedifying spectacle of politicians lining up to ingratiate themselves with Kim Dotcom.

There's the Greek myth of the Siren, a beautiful sea nymph whose seductive singing lured sailors to their destruction on the rocks.

But only Dotcom's most moist-eyed admirer - himself - would describe him as beautiful. And surely no one outside the Coatesville mansion - if those walls could speak - finds his musical output alluring. For that matter, Dotcom himself shows no sign of giving up his day job, whatever that is.

Then there's the opening scene of The Godfather, in which a succession of supplicants traipse out to Don Corleone's compound on the day of his daughter's wedding seeking his patronage. But Dotcom isn't Italian and, despite the Sergeant Schultz accent, he's marginally easier to comprehend than Marlon Brando with his cheeks stuffed with cotton wool.


Contemplating the havoc Dotcom has created on our political scene, a historically minded conspiracy theorist might be reminded of the Germans transporting V.I. Lenin back to Russia from Swiss exile in 1917 - "in a sealed truck, like a plague bacillus", wrote Winston Churchill - in the hope that he'd stir up trouble.

(In the short term this stratagem succeeded beyond Germany's wildest dreams; longer term, it's a textbook example of why you should be careful what you wish for.)

But Dotcom was probably transported to New Zealand in the first class cabin of a 747. And if there's a Marxist tinge to his political shenanigans, it owes more to Groucho than Karl.

To begin with, Dotcom caused embarrassment for the right - think of John Key having to apologise for illegal GCSB spying and John Banks doing his "not drowning but waving" act as he slipped beneath the waves. But since the announcement of his virtual political party, Dotcom has proved troublesome for the left and whichever section of the ideological spectrum Winston Peters currently occupies.

How does this (up)loaded recent arrival with his chequered past manage to make waves while enjoying media and public support that sometimes borders on hagiography?

He's both the proverbial human headline and an adroit PR operator who has succeeded in positioning himself as the ballsy maverick taking on an array of faceless government agencies, such as the GCSB and the US Justice Department, and Hollywood fat cats. With that absurdly theatrical raid - 76 officers plus helicopters - and botched legal aftermath, the Crown has gone out of its way to validate this narrative.

Thus far, Dotcom has been fortunate in his enemies.

Some see him as a modern-day Robin Hood, "feared by the bad, loved by the good" to quote the theme song of the 1950s TV show The Adventures of Robin Hood.


Robin Hood supposedly stole from the rich to give to the poor. As Dotcom's frozen assets reportedly included $218 million in cash and 18 luxury cars, it would appear that our version of the fabled wealth redistributor has been rather more focused on the first part of his mission than the second.

The US has accused Dotcom of costing the entertainment industry around $600 million through pirated content uploaded to his file-sharing site. Let's say for the sake of argument that he's done exactly that; how would we feel about it?

That question takes us to the core of Dotcom's appeal and ability to maintain his persona of stirrer, philanthropist and all-round fun guy.

The prevailing view seems to be that he hasn't done anything wrong because in cyber-space everything should be free or cut-price.

Even if he has cut a few corners, it's all good because the only consequence is that some Hollywood moguls and obscenely overpaid movie stars mightn't be able to upgrade their private jets this year.

I have quibbles with this. If people make their living generating content which is freely available on the internet, how do they get rewarded for their output?

Who cares, you say: they're filthy rich. Well, some might be, but can we be sure we're not doing struggling artists out of much-needed income?

Put it another way: if the movie is the work of some young Kiwis who put up their own money or took out loans to get it made, is it still okay to watch a pirated version for nothing?

And for the sake of clarity, how rich does the person getting ripped off have to be for it to be okay?