's Creator Kim Dotcom is Imprisoned

A man known as Kim Dotcom (real name, Kim Schmitz) is a 38-year old computer programmer that is best known for creating one of the most popular downloading websites in the world. operated as a one-click hosting service that allowed users to upload files for sharing worldwide. Unfortunately, the majority of the files available were pirated software, music and movies. On January 20th, 2012, Kim Dotcom was arrested on copyright infringement charges in New Zealand. Today, he was imprisoned and denied bail due to being an extreme flight risk.

Anyone who has ever downloaded something illegal has probably used Megaupload at some point. The service provided storage space online for small fee. Uploaders would store bootlegged movies, music, tv shows, ebooks, software, games and anything else under the sun. The links to this content would then be mass-distributed to the world via websites that offered little to no value to the web community and were usually plastered with seemingly endless advertisements. As a downloader, you could take anything your heart desired. Where Megaupload made its real money was by providing “faster” download services for a fee. As a free user, you were limited to a small number of downloads per day, but most importantly your maximum speed was capped.

Megaupload Stats

Being number one in anything can be difficult, but being number 1 on the Internet (and staying there) can be next to impossible. Although never reached the coveted rank of the number one visited website in the world, shows that at one point it was the 13th most visited website. Currently it rests at 74. In short time, it will likely fall off the face of the Internet faster than it took me to write that.

At one point or another, this is what Megaupload was pulling down:

  • Unique visitors: 81 million
  • Pageviews: > 1 billion
  • Visitors per day: 50 million
  • Daily reach: 4%
  • Members: 180 million

It was also estimated that at its peak, Megaupload was responsible for over 4% of all Internet traffic! Not bad for a website started in 2005. Among the other sites that Megaupload Limited operated were websites for videos (, photos ( and porn ( All have currently been shut down and now display the infamous FBI anti-piracy logo:

FBI seized website

The Seizure

All the websites and domains associated with Megaupload were seized by the Megaupload Indictmentgovernment a few days ago and as you can plainly see, when you access any of these sites, you are greeted with a friendly reminder that they no longer exist. The charges laid out to Kim Dotcom and Megaupload Limited stem from years of pirating anything digital. While sites like YouTube have solved similar legal issues by installing teams of people with the sole purpose of finding and removing copyrighted videos, Megaupload has allowed its users to upload and share anything and everything.

As a result, New Zealand Police arrested Kim Dotcom and three other Megaupload executives in Auckland on January 20th. The FBI has requested that these four individuals be extradited to the United States. Kim Dotcom was denied bail for fear that if he made it to Germany he would escape extradition.

The indictment indicated that Megaupload differed from other online storage business in a number of ways, in that Megaupload relied heavily on users to download files rather than actually store anything. This was because the vast majority of users did not pay for the service, thereby making Megaupload rely on advertising dollars from ads shown to free downloaders.

The Future

Once this guy gets his sentence, I’m sure the domain and all the business assets (what’s left after the seizure) will be sold off to some other corporation so they can breath life back into the brand. And just like Napster, they will attempt to take the “legal” approach to file sharing. However, the damage is likely done. Those of us who have used it will miss its free and open business model, while those of you who will discover it for the first time in whatever new light is shined on it will never know how great it used to be.

My Two Cents

Kim Dotcom was able to use his business-savvy skills and computer knowledge to create one of the largest file-sharing networks of all time. I remember using the site a few times and always had that first thought of “Why didn’t I think of this?!”, but as I thought more about it, I kept asking myself how websites like Megaupload can exist when it’s crystal clear about what its purpose is—to provide copyrighted material to the world free of charge.

I was reading an article on Yahoo! about Kim Dotcom being arrested and someone left a very interesting comment that I just had to share:

Megaupload was shut down, WITHOUT the need for PIPA or SOPA… Imagine that, the copyright holders using the legal system and EXISTING LAW to bust pirates instead of censoring the internet…

It brings up a very good point and it’s the exact reason I have been so against PIPA and SOPA ever since the new legislation was introduced. The idea that we need more and more laws to combat a problem like this is ridiculous. We have what we need to prosecute people like this and the take-down of the entire Megaupload network is proof that this process works…even in other countries.

iPad Poised to Take Out Radio and Other Media

A new survey from Google shows that more and more people are opting to use their tablet devices, with most of them being iPads, over traditional media streams like listening to the radio or watching broadcast tv. This is happening just now?! I can’t remember the last time I listened to the radio!

The survey points out that more than half of the people questioned said they use their iPad more than listening to the radio and just about 25% of them use an iPad more than a computer. Finally, a third of these individuals stated they use iPad more than they watch tv. Because the iPad is so versatile, people can now use one device to access the Internet, watch videos, stream movies and tv shows, read newspapers and magazines, listen to music and play games. Of course cable and satellite providers have made honest attempts at keeping you on your television by offering on-demand content, DVR services, music channels, downloadable content, HD content, 3D content, free movies, etc., but without a tv capable of handling some of these things, you’re kind of up a creek.

Apple TV

Apple TV
Since the iPad is an Apple product, I doubt Steve Jobs cares that one of his own products is cannibalizing another market, but I know he figures he might as well have a piece of that pie too. Before he retires, Steve Jobs plans to “revolutionize” the living room. The Apple TV has been an interesting, yet vastly overlooked product since its inception. Originally called iTV (how original), the Apple TV began shipping in 2007 and has seen one major upgrade in 2010. However, nobody is really talking about it.

Is it possible that not everything Apple touches turns to gold? In light of this new survey, one could wonder what the future of Apple TV will be. If you actually take the time to look at the device, it really is pretty cool. You can stream purchases of videos, movies and music right from your iTunes account, access Netflix, NBA tv, YouTube and display slideshows from Flickr photo albums.

However, it would seem that this device is doomed. With the realization that iPads are here to stay, along with other competing products, Steve Jobs is likely to bring the cloud experience to your living room. By connecting all of your devices together, you’ll be able to do anything and everything on just about anything and everything in your home. I can see the commercial now:

  • Man is at work with 2 minutes left to go, watching a Netflix movie on his Macbook.
  • Man leaves work and continues same movie on iPhone while riding the subway home (I know there’s no cell service on subways, but work with me here!)
  • Man walks in the door, turns on tv and continues streaming same movie.
  • Man grabs iPad because he has to go to the bathroom and doesn’t want to pause the movie.
  • Man’s iPad battery dies, he gets upset and breaks iPad.
  • Man gets even more upset, breaks Macbook and tv.
  • Wife says she’s leaving because husband is to “connected” to technology.
  • Man is sad and lonely because Apple Care won’t cover physical damage.

On a serious note, if anyone makes that script into a YouTube video, I want credit!

My two cents

Of course the above example is a huge exaggeration, but the questions are pretty clear. Do we really need all this stuff? Do we really want everything to be so connected that we become so dependent on them? What I would like to see is a way for consumers to pay much smaller fees for tv service. If Apple plans to cloud up the living room with more on-demand tv choices like those you can get from Hulu, then I hope the cable companies respond by allowing customers to only pay for channels they wish to receive. At the rate all this is going, I’m sure it won’t be much longer before network television simply allows you to subscribe to your favorite shows rather than paying to have the whole channel.

Overpriced concerts, ticket scalpers and fee after fee after fee

I read an article today about Bob Dylan. What struck me more than the fact that he’s actually touring is the way he plans to sell tickets to his next show in San Francisco. But before I get into that, let’s go over the process (and cost) of going to a big-name concert these days. (If you just want to know what Bob Dylan did, skip ahead.)

Naturally, for an act as big as Lady Gaga, Metallica or (hate to say) Justin Bieber, you probably wouldn’t bat an eye after shelling out $70+ for a basic seat somewhere in the back of the building or arena. Of course, if you want to get much closer, you’re probably looking at the $200-300+ range and if you want to sit so close that you can actually touch Justin’s bowl-of-a-haircut, you’re looking in the $700-1000 range. Have these artists become so popular that the prices keep going up or is there something else at play? That question is hard to answer because there are so many factors involved. You have to consider the popularity of the artist, the location where they’re playing and their touring frequency. One fact that can determine your purchase price is who/where are you buying your tickets from.

Purchasing Concert Tickets

Let’s explore a current event. I went to and searched for one ticket in the best available section for the Lady Gaga concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. By the way, it’s August 24th and the concert is on March 28th, 2011–that’s still 7 months away! The fact that I can’t get a better seat than this right now proves the next argument I’m about to make. Anyway, here’s my ticket:

From this, you can clearly see that I have a mid-level seat and a low-level row. This actually puts me in a fairly good seat as far as the view is concerned. But let’s look at the price. We have a ticket face value of $181.50 and a convenience charge of $19.65. I haven’t even selected how I want it delivered to me and I’m already out $201.15. Speaking of delivery, I wonder if I can just print it on my computer for free…

I guess not. Believe it or not, I can have a printed ticket mailed to my house via standard United States mail at no charge, but to PRINT the ticket on my OWN printer using my OWN ink and paper, it costs me $2.50! For this example, I won’t count the expedited shipping charges because these prices come from the shippers and have no bearing on the cost of the ticket unless you’re impatient and you want them faster. But I will mention that if you wanted to pick the tickets up at any local Ticketmaster location, it will cost you $3.00.

Let’s recap. Aside from choosing faster shipping, you have three basic options:

  1. Use TicketFast: NOW — Print your tickets in the “convenience” of your own home. The cost: $2.50
  2. Pick it up at a Ticketmaster location — Any Ticketmaster outlet can print your ticket on demand and hand it to you. The cost: $3.00
  3. Have it mailed to your house — Ticketmaster will print your ticket on demand, put it in an envelope, stamp it and mail it to your house. The cost: FREE

Is it just me or does all that sound a little backward?! Wouldn’t it be more convenient to be able to print your ticket for free using your own supplies? And why does Ticketmaster feel they need to charge $3.00 to say hi and hand a ticket to someone at a ticket counter? (Actually I’m told that if you want them to say hi, it’s another 25 cents.) And why do they not charge to print and mail a ticket via the Post Office?

Anyway, moving on. I haven’t bought my ticket yet and I still have to consider a few more (optional) costs. Let’s take a look:

If I choose to, I can buy an exclusive t-shirt for $30 and parking in one of two Staples Center lots at $25 or $20–that is if I don’t want to try and find a cheaper (and likely less secure) parking lot further away from the building. Since this article is simply based on ticket prices alone, we’ll skip past these charges and continue to the purchase page.

Even though I included parking on the shopping cart, you can still get the overall idea of total cost. The last fee to be added is an order processing fee for: $5.90. What is this for?! I thought the earlier convenience charge of $19.65 would cover the entire ordering process?? Nonetheless, it’s a fee that can’t be avoided.

Our total for one Lady Gaga concert that will probably last 2-3 hours on a Monday night is:

Grand Total: $209.55

Remember, this is for just one ticket without parking, no souvenirs and no alcohol! And don’t get me wrong–I’m not inferring that Lady Gaga isn’t worth it (I wouldn’t know as I’ve never been to her concert.)–I’m just making a point here!

I just wanted to throw this in here because it can potentially add to your overall cost. It’s ticket insurance and it’ll let you recover your purchase price if you can’t attend the concert for whatever reason–all for the low cost of $7 per ticket. Take a look at the terms:

The Aftermarket

There is a huge aftermarket for concert/event tickets on sites like StubHub,,, and many more. Just go to any one of these sites and you’ll see the difference in prices!

This is where the real mark-ups begin! As a quick example, I went to StubHub and looked for a ticket in the same section as my ticket and would you believe it? The concert is 7 months away and still not sold out, yet they are already selling same-section tickets for $237. As you can imagine, these prices will only go up the closer the concert date comes.

The only real advantage with these aftermarket sites is that you can generally pick your own seats whereas with Ticketmaster, you are stuck with what you get.

Ethical Dilemma

Buying something for one price and selling it for another when demand is higher is not illegal and is generally considered a good business decision. But what about companies that buy up very large amounts of tickets just to sell them at a 50%+ markup? Do you think it’s fair that you don’t even have a fighting chance to get a ticket at face value?

Personally, I think buying tickets online is a great convenience and certainly worth the “fees” to not have to stand in a line for hours to buy a ticket at the door, but I am completely against ticket hoarders much like I’m also against domain hoarders. These people make it almost impossible to get tickets because they buy so many so fast. Plus, the venues, the artists, Ticketmaster and everyone else involved don’t want unsold tickets, so they will sell them to anyone with money.


Every artist could do what Bob Dylan is doing and that is not allow any concert tickets to be purchased before the event. He decided that tickets for his next concert in San Francisco will only be available if you stand in line starting midday and purchase your ticket at the door. In addition, fans can only buy one ticket each which means your friends are standing in line with you. Oh and I almost forgot to mention, ticket sales are cash only!

By doing this, Bob Dylan is single-handedly eliminating the over-inflated ticket prices found online, the ticket resellers on eBay (people who buy out-of-state event tickets just for resell), the “convenience” charges from Ticketmaster, the handling and order processing charges and the printing charges. Good job, Bob!!

Of course doing it this way will most certainly cause many more problems–having that many people in lines all day holding cash, but I think it’s the only fair thing to do to ensure everyone has a fighting chance. Obviously this doesn’t stop people from scalping them, but because the tickets don’t go on sale until the day of the event, there will be no time for proper marketing and inflation.

If every artist did this, maybe the tickets wouldn’t be so high and regular people can actually afford to go to high profile events. If it continues going down this road, eventually we’ll be accepting higher and higher ticket prices and before we know it, we’ll all be financing our next concert.

Disneyland Today

I happened by Disneyland today between a split shift of mine and came upon the taping of Disney’s Christmas show for ABC. The musical performance was done by Stevie Wonder. I didn’t get in very close because I didn’t even know what was happening until right before he came out on stage to start the taping.

At any rate, I captured just about five minutes of the opening. I couldn’t stay long because I had to go back to work, but if you want to watch the part I captured (from a distance), check it out now:

New Doors CD

I just got the new Doors double cd, The Very Best of The Doors and I must say it’s freakin’ awesome!! One thing I wanted to share before I elaborate on this is that if you listen to Back Door Man, you’ll hear at 22 seconds a voice overdub that says “Yeah, come on.” Thinking this may have been some sort of mistake, I pulled out my old recordings of this song and although the quality hardly permits, you can actually hear the same words be uttered at the same time marker. I’ve never heard this before and I went looking for some answers on the matter, but have yet to find any. The voice does not sound like Jim Morrison speaking.

I’ll get back to this post with some more opinions on the rest of this album soon.