By Sharon Tindyebwa
Kim Dotcom, the embattled founder of the now defunct file-sharing site Megaupload, launched a new site, Mega, at his ranch in New Zealand Sunday.
Dotcom touted Mega as the fastest growing Internet site with half a million users registering for the service in the first 14 hours, and more than a million unique visitors in that time, according to the Guardian.
U.S. federal prosecutors shut down Megaupload in 2012 and are currently trying to extradite Dotcom from New Zealand to faces charges for deliberately facilitating online piracy with Megaupload.
Mega is similar to its predecessor in that it allows users to store and share large files. However, unlike Megaupload, files are encrypted locally before the user uploads them to the site, so Mega can genuinely claim to not know whether files uploaded on the site contravene intellectual property rights.
Gizmodo is reporting Dotcom said he would co-operate with authorities, but even if Mega was to hand over all its data, since users are the sole possessors to the encryption key to their files, the identity of the users should still be protected.
Shaya Silber, a Toronto Internet lawyer with Zvulony & Company, told Humber News he could not comment on the particularities of Mega’s legal ramifications, but cautioned putting too much stock in the encryption feature.
“Copyright laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, making a blanket statement like that saying you won’t be liable for copyright infringement is very hard to say whether that’s accurate or not, because the laws are different in every jurisdiction,” he said.
The Motion Pictures Association of America, one of the complainants against Megaupload, was also skeptical that the encryption exempted Dotcom from liability.
“We’ll reserve final judgment until we have a chance to analyze the new project,” a company spokesman is quoted as saying by Reuters. “But given Kim Dotcom’s history, count us as skeptical.”
While no individuals have been prosecuted for copyright infringement in Canada thus far, Silber says it may soon happen.
“Going after people in the States for copyright infringement is a relatively new thing. We’ve seen it going on for a few years and just because we haven’t seen it yet in Canada doesn’t mean we won’t see it in the future,” he said.