Brian Edwards Media

I offer some friendly but unsolicited advice to Kim Dotcom

Dear Kim Dotcom

I’m a fan. Like most fans, my admiration for you isn’t entirely rational. I don’t actually know whether you’re guilty of the Internet crimes the American Government accuses you of. You could be as guilty as sin for all I know.  And your slate isn’t entirely clean. You’ve been convicted of computer fraud and embezzlement. But you’ve paid the price for those crimes and you’ve started a new life here in New Zealand.

When people ask me about the qualities that make up the average Kiwi, I tend to put ‘fair-minded’ at the top of the list. We abhor injustice. So we didn’t like it when, having filed indictments against you and six others on criminal copyright infringement charges,  the FBI started pushing us around and demanding your extradition to the States to face the (pirated?) music. As a small  nation, we’re particularly sensitive to bullying.

And we liked it even less when our very own Keystone Cops, energised by the successful outcome of their Rambo exercises in the Ureweras, decided on an armed-to-the-teeth assault on you and your family’s home in Coatsville.

We weren’t too impressed either by your arrest, denial of bail, imprisonment for a month or the seizure by the Crown of almost everything you own. We’re addicted to that pesky legal principle that people are innocent till proven guilty. We hadn’t seen any real evidence of your guilt or indeed been acquainted with the specifics of the charges against you.  And we still haven’t.  

So I’m making an educated guess that last week’s finding by Justice Helen Winkelmann (Bless her little cotton socks!) in the High Court that the raid on your  mansion was illegal, the removal of cloned copies of your  hard drives unlawful, and the warrants for the seizure of most of your  possessions invalid, was greeted with joy unconfined across the nation.

And what really impressed me was that you didn’t crow about your victory. There’s no-one we admire more in Godzone than a self-effacing and modest winner.

But, oh dear, you didn’t keep it up. I can’t open a newspaper, turn on my TV or browse the Internet now without seeing you hamming it up with friends in the pool, fronting protest marches, hanging out with Flight of the Conchords, being interviewed by John Campbell or tweeting to your 46,607 followers (as of this morning and including me).

You’ve joined the celebrity circuit. I see you described in this morning’s Herald as the ‘hero du jour’. The phrase means ‘today’s hero’, in much the same way that ‘flavour du jour’ means ‘today’s flavour’. There’s a warning there for someone said to be ‘a master of PR’.

See, you had a couple of things really going for you – you’d been shamefully treated by the Americans and then by us, and you seemed to be a nice, funny guy. But your currency – the eccentricity, the stick-it-to-them attitude, the defiance of convention, the madcap behaviour – is in danger of being debased by over-use. A good rule in public relations is that less is generally more.

It must feel nice picking up 46,607 – probably more since I started writing – followers on Twitter in just over a week, when it’s taken the Prime Minister years to get only five thousand more than that. But I doubt that it had any effect on Justice Winkelmann’s decision or will have any effect on future court decisions either here or in the States. It’s a distraction, and not necessarily a helpful distraction in the long run.

I’m a fan. If you’re innocent of the charges made against you, nothing would please me more than to see you stick it to the bastards. It’s in that spirit and as someone who knows a little about our national psyche, that I suggest you cool it just a bit till all the verdicts are in.

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  1. I’m still nodding my head, up and down of course, I think a quiet country boy hero is easier to back than a plastic celebrity.

    The real questions here though are:

    who lets the dogs out ?

    Whose dogs are they?

    Who provided the circus with the initial news on and why did they do a beat up on him .

    Does John Campbell get better internet access than the newsroom staff, Why did it take so long for someone to establish that the raid was illegal, did someone not check this, overlook it perhaps, mmmmm?

    Why is the FBI working on behalf of the music industry.

    Why is there a helicopter at my wwwwww.’

  2. 2

    I’m not so sure about the impact in the U.S. I suspect political influence there is highly significant and thousands of Twitter followers could well be influential.

    BE: I doubt that the Americans would be too exercised about what New Zealanders think. On our trips to the States we’ve found that their knowledge of New Zealand is limited to Peter Jackson and Lord of the Rings. Knowing where New Zealand is was an entirely different matter.

  3. I totally agree with BE. Very well put (but then it should be by someone in the media!)

  4. BE

    Couldnt agree more you should be charging for that advice…

    Speaking of which what is going on with the Police , Crown Prosecutors can they not get one big case to stick?
    Time for a revamp along the lines of back to basics ,facts are required for convictions etc

  5. You’re right , Brian..the trick is to sense the public mood and adjust accordingly.. as surely as we all loved Johnny Key to bits, as soon as we sense someone being to high above the parapet the whole mood changes and the Kiwi penchant for the ” tall poppy” scythe comes out with a vengeance.
    Dotcom still has to beat his extradition to the States in August..if he clears that he’s home free…and he can open Dotcom burger parlours all over the nation !

    We all love the underdog esp. if he turns out to be a fat,happy kid who appears to love life !

  6. Dotcom seems to have some hidden depths, as a recent convert to the newly-deceased TVNZ7, which dug a bit deeper into the “Mega Conspiracy” via Russell Brown’s Media7.

    @Rob Pharazyn: I’d say we have the opposite problem right now – Social Darwinism.

  7. 7

    Who says the Twitter followers are Kiwi? He already has some very high-profile US supporters.

  8. Well the ‘public mood’ has certainly moved into ‘scythe’ mode against ‘Johnny Key’ if the same media with the same ‘polls’ that once made him ‘flavour du jour’ now portray him.

    I would add that Kiwis appreciate genuineness and honesty as well as fairness. Thats a troika ‘Johnny Key’ seems to be increasingly unfamiliar with.

  9. Kiwis like humble under dog. I agree that Kim Dotcom is at ISP f over exposure in our eyes. Some seems to be f his own making eg TVNZ 7 while other aspects, not eg swim nvitr

  10. Krim Dotcom’s popularity is proof of most people being stupid.

  11. I, for one, will freely admit that my like for Dotcom is based almost entirely on my hate for his opposition and their actions – and I agree that I’m probably not alone on this.

    This whole saga highlighted and brought to the fore the issue of smaller governments ‘rolling over’ for the US government and Dotcom is right – it is scary. I’m so glad the tide is turning in Dotcom’s favour – if only to send an indirect message.

  12. less is more? I sense a stomach stapling coming on…

  13. I am an almost fan of Dotcom. I liked his pool party it showed spontaneity and provided some evidence that his persona isn’t manufactured. This is also the time of twitter – connect have fun and tweet it back. I don’t mind any of him on protest marches (I think more NZers should be politically active) or meeting Flight of the Concords (I would love to do that) but I would hate him to become a NZ celebrity. It would amount to an instant dismissal of anything that he might stand for. For me I want him to be a subversive online hero of the the geeks – just not a celebrity or worse yet a NZ celebrity.

  14. the CIA started pushing us around and demanding your extradition to the States to face the (pirated?) music.

    The CIA Brian.Do you know something the rest of us don’t? Or have you been chatting to Bob Harvey.After all according to him the CIA murdered Norman Kirk.

    Or did you mean the FBI ?

    BE: Whoops!

  15. We don’t like the idea of another country pulling our strings especially a country whose lifestyle, healthcare, education, criminal system etc etc etc rates way below us in almost every area.
    It looks like a set up and if followed Americas lead, he’d be gearing up to sue for loss of earnings. As it is, we’ve introduced some copyright laws that have so far only protected American artists and been paid a nominal amount by the American Govt to act as police for American music industry lobby groups. Where did that fierce independent streak that made us declare to the world ‘NZ is nuclear free’ go?

  16. Our police do seem to be an amalgam of the Keystone ‘Kops’, Inspector Clousseau, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and self-styled Rambo wannabes.

    They just don’t seem to know the basics when it comes to rudimentary police work. Like — checking the boot of a husband’s car, properly checking a storm water drain, learning how to shoot straight, knowing to put back-up in place when conducting bugging ops, retrieving one of their fallen colleagues etc, etc.

    Our boys need to learn to walk before they run. Don’t swoop in on someone’s residence, with all the macho bravado of an L.A swat team to effect an arrest of a civilian at the behest of U.S. Hollywood moguls. You look more than just faintly ridiculous.

  17. I dont agree with excessive wealth.Its not how I would like to see the world.I dont agree with the actions taken against DotCom.There are others doing similar if not exactly the same as he has been doing.I do not see the same actions taken against them.Perhaps NZ is seen as an easy target.The file swapping that goes on lacks ethics but so does the excessive profiteering by, in many cases the music industry.Rather than arresting people a viable solution for all involved needs to be found.

  18. I think it is naive for us to be supporting Dotcom. The guy has made his money by using the internet to access other people’s property gaining a cut for himself in the process. Therefore he is a thief. Yes, a very personable one, but a thief none the less. You cannot upset the Americans more than to steal property from one of their revered capitalist corporations. We would quickly lose our sense of humour if some Mexican popped up taking a slice out of Fonterra’s worldwide operation. Our reverence for this man is misplaced, just as the public marvel at some criminal who steals $50 million from a bank. Yes, our police are amateurish, but in this case they are correct. We should back them in this, because guess who is paying for this charade? Us. And by the way this Twitter is for twits. Thank you Doctor, yes I will keep taking the medicine.

  19. @Rick ” I think it is naive for us to be supporting Dotcom…’

    Agreed. It’s a mistake to portray this guy as some kind of folk hero or a latter-day Robin Hood. He might be robbing the rich, but he ain’t giving to the poor.

  20. People become folk heroes for different reasons and giving to the poor is not a prerequisite. Although by donating $500,000 to the ChCh earthquake appeal and paying around $1m for the Auckland fireworks, Dotcom pretty much scores brownie points from me.

    Regardless of how you view copyright infringement there is correct methodology to follow when you’re taking legal action. 75 cops with illegal warrants, helicopters and guns was just plain wrong and most kiwis hate that. Our keystone cops made a right old mess of things (again) and that was always bound to backfire on the state.

  21. 21

    rick, your allegation is simply false. Dotcom didn’t access anyone else’s property (whereas Google certainly does).

    I don’t know if he has violated any US copyright law but I do know that issue is far from clear and depending on how the courts rule many other internet and cloud services may be affected.

  22. Wake up Alan Wilkinson. If you think people make $50 million a week without accessing other people’s property then I suggest you restart the Values Party perhaps with a new set of values.

  23. 23

    Rick, I think people whose first resort is rudeness have little credibility but time will tell.

  24. 24

    Mr Edwards I said this weeks ago in your first article on Kim Dotcom, you directly, ferociously argued against my suggestion for him to quiet down.

    With TV3, TVNZ, The Herald etc reporting everything he does/says, I suppose in their goal to seek out new stories, that people in the media are not able to judge the relevance of new material as well as others and need to really up their game on that. Quality over quantity

    BE: ‘ferociously’? But you’re right I did disagree with your point then. I think the whole ball game changed when Helen Winkelmann ruled the whole police conduct unlawful and the warrants invalid. I thought Kim should chill at that point and if you go to Twitter or NBR you’ll see that he agrees.

  25. 25

    Yes ‘ferociously’ as it did seem more than just an admonishment.
    Ive just read what Kim said, i dont think he will be able to “step back and chill” though as he sees himself, correctly or incorrectly as a crusader. Its not his fault the media is now also repeating what he says on twitter but hes going to have to learn to control himself. I’ll be disappointed if he gets himself eventually perceived as a ranter.

    BE: ”
    “Yes ‘ferociously’ as it did seem more than just an admonishment.” Dear God!

  26. 26

    Apart from Kim Dotcom becoming the new NZ folk hero and rightly deserving of such an accolade and being desperately in need of such a figure – sorry George, it’s been too long. We needed somebody new to fill the misty gap in time from when we all got in behind (supported) your exploits and wished you well that you would continue to avoid the blundering attempts of the law to re-incarcerate you.

    Anyway, what bothers me the most in this Dotcom affair, apart from a huge abuse of his human and legal rights, is the willingness of the NZ Government and the P’lice to bend over backwards to accommodate the wishes, more likely the demands, of the FBI. That and the sycophantic manner of our prime minister an his equally obsequious pals to bend over in an unseemly pose to allow the representatives of any country – especially the US, to insert their wishes deeply into our countries compliant leadership and even more galling is that these over eager leadership then look around behind them advising the aggressor that it would be fine if they were to push even harder. This is forelock tugging taken to a new depth of servility.
    I know that we are a small country, but does our leadership need to act so relentlessly like we have this massive inferiority complex that seems to underpin the belief that might is right and so therefore by the very nature of our size and geographic location we must always therefore be wrong.

    So help us all during the PPT negotiations.


  27. 27

    Justice Helen Winkelmann is a hottie! Is it OK to say that about a judge?

  28. I agree with most of what you say Brian. I felt very disturbed by punishment (confiscation of property, jail etc) happening before Mr. Dotcom was convicted of anything in a court of law. Surely that makes us all vulnerable if the police can do that. I don’t mind about Mr. Dotcom’s outgoing behaviour. People like him make interesting reading compared to one’s ordinary self – who is admittedly one-third the size of Mr. Dotcom and living in a house maybe one-twentieth the size of his mansion. My house is reasonably well-stocked with the goods of This World that I need to enjoy my modest lifestyle, and I don’t begrudge Mr. Dotcom his lavish lifestyle, or material possession. I just have concerns about NZ sovereignty etc, if police can just confiscate property on suspicion that a crime has been committed.

  29. “I’m a fan. Like most fans, my admiration for (Dotcom) isn’t entirely rational…”

    You should have stopped right there. Dotcom’s PR machine is the best I’ve ever seen, and the full story about this guy hasn’t even begun yet.

  30. John Campbells story on Dotcom the other night was awful. He didnt at all mention that dotcom had a sawnoff loaded shotgun in the room with him, no wonder the police went in there guns hot. Remember Jan Molenaar?

  31. John Campbell stopped his program tonight to bring breaking news on the Dotcom case. It was nothing of the sort, maybe breaking news if it was his boyfriend

  32. The Dotcom PR machine rolls on (he even got the Conchords involved, f’ heaven’s sake!) with would-be’s ands wanna-be’s clinging to it. It will end in tears for some.

  33. Yes definitely for John Campbell, he should of listened to whats John Banks said about him being a married man.
    The thing that annoys me most is that the media are giving him a free ride, its not Dotcom that annoys me at all, i can just turn off his publicity stunts.

  34. Although i do think his publicity stunts makes him seem a bit tryhard like Dai Henwood