Dr. Evil Bought A Website
Written By Patrick McGuire, Illustration by Microraptor

K

im Kimble is standing in the middle of a field in Monaco. He's wearing a black blazer, a black turtleneck, black pants and black sunglasses. He yells something excitedly in German at a man in uniform. He looks like he's about 6’6” and 300 pounds. Beside him, three or four brightly coloured exotic sports cars are parked right on the grass. He's with a few gorgeous women and two lucky male friends of his. About twenty feet over all of their heads, a helicopter with Kim's personal website http://www.kimble.org plastered on it flies back and forth doing helicopter tricks. Then Kim hops into a black Mercedes-Benz and starts doing donuts on the grass.

That is a scene that appears minutes into a “documentary” on Kim Kimble that Kim Kimble made about himself. Kim Kimble is the owner of Megaupload.com. Megaupload is easily the most popular, fastest and accessible file-sharing site in the world. According to Comscore, the gold standard of web analytics, Megaupload serviced 97 million unique visitors worldwide in October 2011 alone. The site is certainly despised in the United States' entertainment industry. According to a CNET article from August 2011, some in Hollywood refer jokingly to Kim Kimble as Dr. Evil. It's not hard to figure out why.

Kim Kimble's 30+ minute weird promotional video, widely viewable online, features overlong scenes of him speeding (camera pointed at the speedometer) along European highways blasting techno. Then he's on a trill ass yacht looking at exotic fish swimming at the bottom of a pool. Then he's out racing Ferraris. Then a really shitty animation starts playing of Kimble piloting a speedboat and an electronic dance song with a hook that goes “Internet Superhero!” over and over runs in the background. This is literally cartoon supervillain shit, but instead of kidnapping Zelda or pointing a giant laser beam at the Earth, he’s just made it very very easy to download a free DVD Rip of Drive for anyone in the free world with a little bit of downloading savvy.

The United States is currently caught up in a discussion regarding the SOPA Act. SOPA stands for Stop Online Piracy Act. It aims to eliminate file-sharing sites that are currently outside of American jurisdiction. It would do this by blocking DNS access to certain domains via US Internet service providers. Plus the SOPA act would also allow the entertainment industry and the government to sue search engines that list the offending sites and shut down advertisers from advertising on the infringing pages. This would certainly fucking affect Megaupload.

While the elimination of a piracy portal has never stopped or eliminated piracy (Napster, OiNK, Supernova...) Megaupload is quite different. Napster allowed User A to connect to User B and download Song 1 from User B’s computer. A torrent tracker like the somehow-not-dead Pirate Bay allows User A to collect little pieces of a file from User B, C, D, F and G until the whole thing is pieced together. Megaupload allows User A to connect to Megaupload to download the file that Megaupload is hosting for them. See the difference? Kim Kimble aka Dr. Evil owns all the pirated content himself!

That’s why it’s so easy to click on a Megaupload link for a TV episode and watch it immediately through its video streaming platform Megavideo. More clicks = more time on site = more chances you’ll click a banner = more chances you’ll sign up for one of its paid premium memberships = more chances you’ll tell a friend about Megaupload and this cycle can continue. Megaupload is a very successful online property.

Not only that, but Megaupload has created an on-demand media delivery system with fairly transparent statistics. There’s no way to tell really what the most popular videos on Netflix are, in terms of raw data anyway, but if you look at the top downloaded videos on Icefilms.info (an online platform for TV and movie rips) which relies predominantly on Megaupload we can get a very accurate view of peoples’ viewing patterns. Not that you’d really want to, when the depressing truth is that The Big Bang Theory is the most popular television show by a long shot.

Ultimately, the world has never seen something as organized and powerful in the realm of file-sharing as Megaupload has become. To visit the home page of Megaupload.com for the first time, is to think you’re on just a regular file-sharing site, for colleagues to email each other large Keynote presentations. But if you spend one minute researching Kim Kimble, it becomes very apparent this is actually just one of the best digital piracy operations ever, hiding in plain sight.

Exactly one week before this issue went to print, Kim Kimble released a viral music video with a jingle proclaiming the awesome usability of Megaupload to “send files across the globe” in which Kim himself screams “It’s a Hit! It’s a Hit!” before Macy Gray sings about his website. The video, which you may have seen by now, also features handicam testimonials from Kanye West, P Diddy, Kim Kardashian and Will.I.Am. Universal Music responded by flooding Youtube with illegitimate copyright claims (Megaupload owned all rights to the song and footage in the video) which forced it off of Youtube for a brief period.


Originally published in Winter 2011, Issue 6.1.