The German businessman known as Kim Dotcom is now back in the public eye, launching a new file share service called Mega. This comes one year after the rotund entrepreneur was arrested for his part in founding Megaupload, another file share service that had U.S. prosecutors claiming billions of dollars worth of piracy was taking place between users. They shut the site down and arrested the man at his palatial New Zealand mansion.
What will be different this time, one wonders? Granting an interview with the BBC, Mr. Dotcom said his new venture was a unique cloud-based service offering private and secure file storage, insisting “Legally, there’s just nothing there that could be used to shut us down. This site is just as legitimate and has the right to exist as Dropbox, Boxnet and other competitors.” What he is also offering is 50GB free storage for anyone who signs up. It was obviously enough enticement, as just hours after the launch, some 250,000 people had already signed up. Part of this must be down to the enormous amount of publicity the garrulous German has accumulated, and also the blossoming desire on the public’s behalf to shed their aging external hard drives for “the cloud.”
It is slightly odd that as Mr. Dotcom is awaiting extradition to the U.S. with a judgment due in March, his customers have been so eager to climb onboard – what happens if this site is also seen to be contravening the law, and its CEO is found guilty (the penalty is for a lengthy prison stay, apparently)? He is already fighting a legal battle to return information to the users of the confiscated Megaupload site, so imagine where your files will be if they shut this one down too. The interesting point is really what the authorities and the entertainment industry can do about the never-ending deluge of new technology, presumably taking their profits. These web geeks will always be one step ahead, so they have no choice but to find new ways to appeal to the public and earn a dollar from their content. That is the true battle.