Eccentric internet multi-millionaire and controversial file-sharing kingpin Kim Dotcom is thumbing his nose at the authorities once again: this time, launching a new version of his massive shut-down data-sharing site which offers more features, elaborate security, and increased user capacity.
The newly launched Mega is the successor to Megaupload, a defunct file-sharing site shut down almost precisely one year ago when United States and New Zealand prosecutors collaborated to build an anti-piracy case against Dotcom. Unlike Megaupload, Mega offers "super-encryption" and larger storage capacity. It offers up to 50 gigabytes of cloud storage – far larger than any other competing service, including Dropbox and Google Drive. Just one day after release, the site is already down due to overwhelming traffic that has exceeded their server capacity.
The business model is simple: allow users to register an account and upload files and share the links. The site made money off of advertising and paid accounts with increased capacity. As any avid internet user will tell you, Megaupload was a pirate haven stocked to the gills with any kind of free, pirated, or illegal content a user could possibly want – though it quickly complied with copyright infringement complaints by removing files and deleting users. Dotcom is slowly but surely winning a case pressed by American prosecutors in Virginia to extradite him for profiting off of piracy; Megaupload argues that since they were not directly involved in distributing content illegally, they are not liable for any damages or criminal charges.
Mega is off to a big start, complete with a ridiculous launch party featuring dancers, smoke machines, and a meticulous recreation of last year's police raid on his $30 million New Zealand manor. The lavish affair began with helicopters flying overhead the guests, deploying faux SWAT officers who rappelled down the side of his house.
According to Dotcom, all encryption on the new site is user-end: meaning that Mega staff is actually incapable of viewing any of the data stored on the site without the users' decryption key. This supposedly releases Mega from any legal liability for copyright-violating uploads or downloads through the site – an argument that the content industry will no doubt challenge in court at some future date.
For Dotcom, however, any court battle is a fight to be relished, not scurried away from. In a recent interview with The Guardian, he explained his minor disappointment that the current charges against him were unlikely to even end up in an extradition hearing.
"We want to expose what has happened here. We have a lot of information that shows the political interference. We feel that what happened here was manufactured to destroy Megaupload, and we want to show that," Dotcom said.
You can see the Mega launch keynote speech here, complete with a bizarre array of half-dressed dancers and a raucous talk by Dotcom.