Despite expectations to the contrary, Kim Dotcom's Mega has taken self-policing of pirated content quite seriously. While responding quickly to the emergence of Mega indexing and search sites that promoted illegal content by blocking their ability to search, they've also been pulling all files indexed by such search engines and have been complying with a wide variety of takedown requests within minutes. Yet links to apparently pirated material are still appearing on at least one such indexing site.
Megaupload's History Overshadows Mega's Attempts at Positioning
Given that storage in the cloud, encrypted data and the ability to share large files are a necessity for many business as well as individuals for reasons that include privacy and utility, the basic concept of Mega seems perfectly valid. A wide range of companies providing such services don't get the bad press and the negative assumptions heaped on Mega even though some are providing even more advanced abilities.
But given the uses of Mega's predecessor, Megaupload, to facilitate pirating of copyrighted material and an extended period of blatant disregard from both the company and its founder, it's understandable that there has been deep concern and a close watch by the tech media, cause that's how they make their money, and rights holders, because they don't want their ability to make money undermined.
Mega-Search.me Tests Mega's New Stance on Copyright
When a third party search engine appeared, Mega-Search.me, that facilitated access to both legal and illegal content being hosted by individuals on Mega, the initial media response was relatively muted with a focus on the technical details. But instead of this event initiating a storm of protest from rights holders and their proxies, Mega blocked the search engine from indexing the site within 24 hours.
A somewhat clueless writer for American Banker stated on February 1st:
"Despite Dotcom's claim that the site is 'the most legally scrutinized Internet site in the history of the Internet,' the company has fielded 150 copyright-infringement warnings since its launch on Jan. 20."
This is rather amusing given that RIAA takedown requests to Google have already reached the 10 million mark. Of course, there's a difference between hosting and linking. But Mega responded quickly to Mega-Search.me while Google has not only monetized its links to pirated content for many years but does quite well off even worse sins.
Mega Appears to Have Embraced RIAA-Style Overreach
In fact, Mega is taking such an aggressive stance towards Mega-Search.me and similar indexers that bogus DMCA takedown requests and links from noncompliant indexers have led to legal content hosted by Mega becoming unavailable to legitimate users.
Of course, bogus takedown requests will continue given that the RIAA and related rights holders have a long history of such misbehavior. Worse still, it appears that some unidentified entity or entities have been automatically submitting takedown requests to which Mega has responded by pulling files down within minutes.
Yet, at the same time, Mega-Search.me is still in operation and links to files that do appear to be in violation of copyright lead to files that appear to be available. I stopped at the point of seeing the link on Mega but it looks like this game will continue indefinitely.
Is Mega's Response Motivated by Dotcom's Pending Extradition Trial?
Understandably, Kim Dotcom and Mega are going overboard to please rights holders and their proxies not only to validate their new service but to give Dotcom a better look when his extradition trial resumes in August.
This is a smart move, especially since New Zealand's own security forces broke various laws in the process of spying on and apprehending him and recently stated that a separate case against Dotcom "overshadowed much of their work" in 2012. The government has revealed that the proceedings against Dotcom have been some of the most expensive in New Zealand's history and the Prime Minister has even apologized to Kim Dotcom for illegal wiretapping.
New Zealand's willingness to extradite Dotcom may well be weakened by a wide variety of political concerns, including how all this will play out in future elections, especially if New Zealand's citizenry views such actions as playing lapdog to the U.S.
Will Kim Dotcom Get Richer in the Process?
If Kim Dotcom gets to stay home, it's quite possible that he will institutionalize RIAA-style overreach and/or help improve available technologies for identifying pirated content. If the latter's the case, Dotcom may end up even richer.
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