It's hard to ignore a man like Kim Dotcom. Leave aside his obvious distinguishing features like his sheer mass, he's also been around for a lot of Internet business, including some more controversial ones like his earlier Megaupload, which was taken out by United States prosecutors. But Kim Dotcom is back with his new Mega service, with a big press conference / launch party in New Zealand over the weekend. While this isn't a Megaupload redux in the truest sense, it's certainly got a lot of eyebrows raised.
When the press conference / release party begins with Dotcom roaring "Mega is going to be huge and nothing will stop Mega!" before a helicopter flies overhead and fake police officers start rappelling down the side of the mansion, it's a safe bet that, indeed, he's got something big up his sleeve, and not his upper arm.
Certainly, Mega drew plenty of attention, with half a million users signing up for the service in the course of just 14 hours. Additionally, Mega looks to offer many of the same services that Megaupload did, with a full 50 gigabytes of free cloud storage available to its user base, and larger quantities of file space available on a paying basis. This actually represents space much, much larger than many of its contemporaries, including Dropbox (News - Alert) and Google Drive, but Mega steps things up even further by allowing for a simple drag-and-drop interface for its uploads.
Image via Shutterstock
But what distinguishes Mega from Megaupload? Comparatively simple: Mega boasts a new encryption and decryption feature that gives the users the only key to uploaded files. The company has, essentially, no idea at all what's being uploaded, and that's led to not only Mega billing itself as "the privacy company" but also to a note of assurance that, this time, Mega can't find itself under the same gun as Megaupload. If they don't see it, they can't be held responsible for it, and thus, only the users can be held responsible.
There's plenty at stake here; based on reports from prosecutors, Dotcom pulled in "tens of millions of dollars in revenue" while filmmakers and songwriters and the like lost a somehow much more concrete figure of "around $500 million in copyright revenue." This is of course a figure that could be easily disputed--chances are those people getting their songs and films and such free from Megaupload weren't planning to buy them in the first place--and for Megaupload's part, Dotcom still insists that requests to remove links were complied with at every turn.
While indeed, pirates are likely to have a bit tougher time with Mega than with Megaupload--the encryption keys would have to be published along with any links--some wonder if, perhaps, Mega isn't being designed as a honeypot to lure the unwary rather than as a new way to share information and, indeed, copyrighted material. Given that U.S. prosecutors have, as yet, remained quiet about Mega's existence, referring questions to a court document in which Dotcom promised to not start a Megaupload-style business until the criminal case against him had been resolved, there's no way to tell just what Mega actually is: Trojan horse or friend to the community.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman