The always-controversial founder of Megaupload, Kim Dotcom, announced plans earlier today to launch the Mega service, a service that would replace his recently raided and shut down service Megaupload. While on the surface, differences between the two would seem superficial, there's actually quite a bit going on under the slight name change.
While Dotcom himself--formerly Kim Schmitz--is still facing possible extradition and up to a 20 year prison sentence for his Megaupload site in the United States, the new version simply cuts out the United States as much as possible. Dotcom described the new service: "The new Mega will not be threatened by U.S. prosecutors. The new Mega avoids any dealings with U.S. hosters, U.S. domains, and U.S. backbone providers and has changed the way it operates to avoid another takedown."
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Additionally, Mega is said to use a new kind of encryption system that would keep knowledge of what was being uploaded completely out of administrators' eyes; essentially, only the users would know what they were uploading. The new Mega, according to Dotcom, "encrypts and decrypts your data transparently in your browser, on the fly. You hold the keys to what you store in the cloud, not us."
While this might sound like just an end run around the system, Dotcom had some words that may keep pirate uploaders off the site, suggesting in an interview with Reuters (News - Alert) that content owners may be allowed to access users' uploaded files in exchange for holding Mega harmless around the actions of its users. Currently, Mega will be free to use, but how long it remains that way depends on the actions of investors, as Dotcom called for further investment to help keep the site up, running and free for users. Mega itself is set to officially launch January 20, 2013, a year to the day after his arrest over Megaupload.
The Megaupload affair has been marked by scandal and controversy since its inception, with the New Zealand government recently issuing an apology via Prime Minister John Key, and both the raid and the accompanying seizure of assets involved in the Megaupload raid were both declared illegal by New Zealand courts.
The issue of online piracy is one that will likely never truly go away. Lawsuits, arguments, and new technologies designed to both facilitate and end the idea will continue to emerge for some time to come. While Dotcom's new service may prove to just be a new kind of piracy facilitation system, it may well prove to be a useful service for a lot of users out there looking for a fast and easy way to make cloud storage happen. Cloud storage--including that of Megaupload--has proven useful for a lot of users, especially for artists like photographers who need to move materials from the field back to where they can manipulate the results later.
The end results of Megaupload, and Mega, will fully play out in the coming days, but perhaps Kim Dotcom has finally hit on something worthwhile.
Edited by Brooke Neuman