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Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom gearing up to launch Megabox music service this year

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is preparing to launch his new Megabox music project before the end of the year, he said in a recent tweet. And, if his past projects are anything to go by, it will likely be the scourge of the music industry.

Dotcom, born Kim Schmitz, is currently fighting a legal battle on behalf of Megaupload, an online storage site that American authorities allege was a haven for pirated content. He is accused of facilitating large-scale copyright infringement and has been charged with racketeering, money laundering, and criminal copyright fraud. US officials are requesting his extradition from New Zealand, where he has lived for years.

But Dotcom’s new venture, which is described as a music service that empowers artists by allowing them to sell their music to fans directly, was first alluded to last year, before the raid on his home and his subsequent arrest.

In December 2011, he explained the goals of Megabox in a blog post penned for Torrent Freak.

“[Universal Music Group] knows that we are going to compete with them via our own music venture called, a site that will soon allow artists to sell their creations direct to consumers and allowing artists to keep 90% of earnings,” Dotcom wrote.

“We have a solution called the Megakey that will allow artists to earn income from users who download music for free. Yes that’s right, we will pay artists even for free downloads. The Megakey business model has been tested with over a million users and it works. You can expect several Megabox announcements next year including exclusive deals with artists who are eager to depart from outdated business models,” he continued.

In June, he confirmed that the project had not been abandoned, despite his legal troubles.

“You can expect several Megabox announcements [in 2012] including exclusive deals with artists who are eager to depart from outdated business models,” Dotcom said at the time.

Yesterday, he gave further confirmation in a series of tweets that the service will launch at some point this year.

“I know what you are all waiting for. It's coming. This year. Promise. Bigger. Better. Faster. 100% Safe; Unstoppable,” he said. “Yes... Megabox is also coming this year.”

Dotcom, who last month released a song attacking Barack Obama, looks poised to be Megabox’s first ‘artist’.