‘Mega’ file-sharing site, successor to Megaupload, to come from Kim Dotcom


An entrance to Megaupload's office at a hotel in Hong Kong is seen in this Hong Kong government handout photo released late January 20, 2012. (HANDOUT/REUTERS)
November 1, 2012

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom announced Thursday that he is starting a new hosting Web site as a successor to the file-sharing site that was shut down by U.S. prosecutors in January.

Reuters reported that Dotcom believes the new site, dubbed Mega, will face no threat of being shut down by U.S. officials, because none of the storage servers, Internet backbone or domains used for Mega’s operations is based in the United States. The service will launch on Jan. 20.

On Twitter, Dotcom mocked U.S. officials who may be looking into the new site, which is currently just a holding page with some information about the service.

“All FBI agents pressing reload hahaha..... We see their IP addresses. LOL!!!,” he wrote.

Dotcom has also made other changes that may help avoid charges similar to those that led to a high-profile raid on his New Zealand home in January. The new service works through users’ browsers, rather than by dedicated software. Reuters reported that this encryption system will shift some responsibility for content onto users themselves.

“You hold the keys to what you store in the cloud, not us,” a message on the Mega Web site reads.

Dotcom told Reuters that content owners who fear their copyrighted material is being shared illegally may get “direct delete access” to accounts if they agree not to hold Mega liable for infringement.

Last month, the prime minister of New Zealand, John Key, apologized to Dotcom for the raid on his home — conducted in conjunction with an investigation from the FBI.

“We failed to provide that appropriate protection for him,” Key said, according to the BBC. He also said that New Zealand authorities had improperly spied on Dotcom.

Dotcom still faces an extradition hearing to the United States in March.

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice released a filing that could be important to Megaupload users wondering whether they can recover the information that was stored on the company’s files when it was shut down.

The filing relates to a pending hearing between DOJ and Kyle Goodwin, who sued in an attempt to recover his data from Megaupload servers owned by the Virginia-based Carpathia Hosting. Goodwin had stored backups of files he used for his business with the service. He lost his original files and was planning to recover that data from the service when it was shut down. He filed suit against the government for the return of his data with support from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The government suggested that Goodwin must do more than simply say he used the service in order to recover his data.

“[If] mere use of the service was sufficient to create a legal ownership interest in servers leased by Megaupload from Carpathia, then there could be hundreds, if not hundreds of thousands, of ‘owners’ of each and every single Carpathia server. Such a result is absurd,” the government said.

The court may need to hear the testimony of several witnesses to suss out the issues in the case — something that could be avoided, the filing said, if the court decides Goodwin doesn’t have ownership over the property.

The filing also suggests that the cost of finding and returning a single user’s data, determining what, if any, information violates copyright law and returning the rest may not be feasible. The government suggested Goodwin explore other recovery methods, such as trying to retrieve the information from his own hard drive.

In an interview with Wired, Goodwin’s attorney said she believes the process suggested by federal prosecutors would be too difficult for the majority of Megaupload users.

Related stories:

Megaupload warrants ruled illegal by New Zealand court

Carpathia: No ‘immediate plans’ to delete Megaupload data

Petition protests Megaupload data seizure

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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